Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's the Great Space Coaster .... Get on Board!

Remember that show? Some of you may be too young, but it was a regular morning show at my house growing up. I loved the little stick figure named Leroy. And of course the catchy tune at the start of the show. What does it have to do with my post today? Absolutely nothing. Just thought of it ... At 3am crazy things go on in your brain...lol.

Earlier in October I posted some on the webinar I did with kid lit agent Mary Kole. Today, I'll share with you what I learned on the YA market. Not everyone is a YA writer, I realize, but even if you've ever considered it, this is great info:

YA  -  * Two kinds of YA, including readers ages 12 and up, as well as 14-16 and up.
           * Word count should be between 45k-90k
           * Anything goes! (paranormal, dystopian, contemp, etc.) Just write what's in your heart.
           * Don't be edgy for the sake of being edgy
           * YA is about authenticity and relating to your readership
           * Teens have a very sensitive BS monitor (they know when it's not realistic)
There were some questions on the paranormal romance category--why it's so popular and if it's going to last... 
Mary said teens (especially girls) have a romantic obsession and these stories allow them to live vicariously through fiction. These stories have lots of action and fights. Paranormals allow teens to explore the dark side of humanity. It's still a very strong category, even if it may seem overdone at the present.

Still lots of room for contemporary (yay for me!). But contemps need a strong voice, with bigger and darker conflicts. Teens don't want %100 happy ending anymore. It's all about the bittersweet endings. Teens realize life is more complicated.

If you are writing YA, keep in mind the teen mindset:

* They go through lots of firsts (love, conflict, being a hero)
*They feel everything intensely (all those new feelings are rocking their worlds)
*There are many highs and lows everyday
*They're in the moment. Relationships are very important. (all kinds--friends, love, parents)

 (One of the best teen movies ever, Pretty in Pink. I know, so 80s, right? What can I say, I grew up in the 80s)

Best advice from Mary:

Be authentic. Do research with real teens. Don't preach or moralize. Pay attention to the guidelines for age range. Really get in their heads.

And here is what she says separates hopeful authors from actual authors:

* Character
* Voice
* Authority (notice word author in authority)

Identify these elements and transfer them to your own writing. Writing is an art/craft that takes time.

As I've learned since my first story. Yikes! I started off writing YA, then dabbled in some other areas, now I'm back to YA... it seems to be where my heart is. It's such a sensitive time in a person's life, and I love the idea of helping to mold young minds.

What about you? Why do you write the genre you do?


Rachael Harrie said...

Great post PK, and some really useful info. Sounds like you had a great interview with Mary. Thanks for sharing her insight :)


Mohamed Mughal said...

Ah, teen movies from the 80s....remember "The Breakfast Club?" Classic stuff!

The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

More good advice and insight, as usual. Thank you.

I don’t even know what genre my writing falls into, let alone the reasons. I keep on being told it’s important though, so I better give it some thought one day.
The enigmatic, masked blogger

Jen Daiker said...

Molly Ringwald is the best girl ever! I loved watching those movies growing up and I can relate to her in so many ways so when I write I really think about her... I suppose she is sort of my muse!

I'm a Young Adult author, I would say fantasy & thriller are the two I fall under within Young Adult.

I always wondered about the word count, it's so a range depending on what you write but it was nice to know that all three of my novels fall within the word count you listed! Yay!

Tracy said...

Growing up, I sooo loved me some Duckie!!

I like writing in the paranormal genre, and the story I'm working on now is my first YA. I didn't set out thinking "I want to write YA", but I'm a character driven writer...and the characters in this story insisted on being teenagers, so who am I to argue?

I agree with the emotional part of the writing. Teenagers have a tendency to be truer to their feelings. They're still trying to figure them out so they haven't learned how to put some of the damper on them that we do as adults...which can make writing a story from a teen POV quite exhausting. But I love it!

Quinn said...

Great info and important things to remember.

I write YA and ... I'm not entirely sure why. I read pretty much only YA. So that could be why. Teens have less obligations -- life doesn't get in the way as much -- so they can have crazy paranormal or fantastical adventures. There was never a moment though when I actually sat down and thought "what genre should I write in?" It was just a given.

LTM said...

I love MK--she gave me some super feedback on BNN over the summer. And I guess that's why I write YA--I have a romantic obsession and I like living vicariously. LOL! :D

great post, P!

Melissa said...

Awesome post. I need to keep all of this in mind!

The Golden Eagle said...

Excellent post. I'll have to remember it!

I write Science Fiction--I love creating new worlds and people, plus science is one of my favorite subjects.

Pk Hrezo said...

Glad this was helpful! It was to me too. Mary Kole is on top of her game.

I loved The Breakfast Club too! John Hughes films rocked!

Great to learn what everyone's writing. :) Thanks for your comments!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

I'm a YA lover, definitely-reading AND writing it. I love it so much because you can do practically anything (as you mentioned).

Jennifer Hillier said...

I can hear the entire Great Space Coaster song in my head... :) I used to love that show!

Ditto Pretty in Pink. I was a big Molly Ringwald fan.

Why do I write thrillers? I suppose because they're the books I most enjoy reading. (Wish I had more original answer for you.)

Lola Sharp said...

I grew up in the 80s too...it was a great time.

I always loved 16 Candles...Jake. *sigh*

Wonderful tips. :)

Regina said...

So many interesting and great points. She is spot on with the BS meters in teens because I have four of them. I love to run stuff by them to see what they think. Yes everything is so up and down from one minute to the next.

One day Kim is your best friend and the next day she is the back stabbing biznatch that just snatched your boy. This is so true. I see it all the time.

P.S. It is great to know that there is another 80's girl out there like me. Rock on! :D

The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Pk - Just read your comment on another blog and thought I'd come check you out. Like your blog, so I'm joining. Great to meet you. Happy Writing :-)

Anonymous said...

I like action adventure with realistic scifi as a backdrop. There has to be murder and great villains with psychotic allusions (or dillusions) of grandeur. I think its just as important to have a a good reason the villain is doing what he is doing, like greed, revenge, etc.