A great blog posted by Chuck Sambuchino - Guide to Literary Agents - chock full of useful information for anyone out there writing for the Young Adult market. If you don't currently follow Chuck's blog (or Tweets for that matter!), then you really need to Get. On. It.
I relate to all of the rules, particularly #5 - always remember who your target audience is and the fact that they lead the way in trends.
Keep on top of what you see out there in today's market - I often find that going to my local mall is an invaluable resource for this. Watch where the teens shop, see what they're buying, listen to how they talk - of course, don't do this in a creepy way! And don't forget to channel your inner teen! You were there once - remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time? Get your heart broken? Be the center of gossip - or be the one to start it? Friday night football games?
After all, age is only a number.
5 Rules for Writing YA
Posted by Chuck
1. The life of the story depends on the writer's ability to convince the reader that the protagonist is one of them. Teens despise fakes. You must know kids well enough to channel their voices, thoughts and emotions.
2. Don't condescend to your readers. Young people won't abide stories that suggest their turmoil or idealism will pass when they "grow up." Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club, says, "I'm a big believer that kids are smarter than we think they are ... I think kids can handle complexity and nuances, and the advantage to writing that way is that the book appeals to both teenagers and adults. Don't deal with young people by trying to push them in one direction or another. Deal with them where they're at now.
3. Read, read, read today's YA fiction. A word of caution: Don't emulate your favorite authors, but learn from them,. You'll want to create work that is truly your own. The benefits to reading what's already on the market are phenomenal. It will familiarize you with what's selling, how kids today talk, what they wear, what issues concern them, and so on.
4. Silence your worries over commercial considerations. This allows you to concentrate on your primary objective, which is to tell your story. Keep your artistic integrity—your ideals—ahead of how commercially successful you want your book to be. If you focus on writing the best possible book, commercial success will follow later. The significant rise in the success of YA novels has opened the way for a multiplicity of categories, and just to give you an idea, I've listed some alphabetically: adventure, chick lit, comical, fantasy, fantasy epics, futuristic, gay-themed, historical, multicultural, mystery, religious, romantic, science fiction, sports and urban. If your story doesn't fit into any of these categories, you may have to invent one. Consider it an opportunity.
5. In your new world of YA fiction, erect no concrete barriers, wire fences or one-way signs. Instead, forge new paths. The YA field welcomes innovators. What will your contribution be? Think fresh. Remember that young people are trendsetters—they're always looking to differentiate themselves from others. It's how teens forge their own identities. Don't be afraid to push the boar out as well. Coming up with a fresh idea will set you apart from the pack and might be the thing that sparks an editor's interest in your work.
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