Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's Up with YA?

The last manuscript I began writing started out as a contemporary romance, but after writing about 30,000 words, I decided it would fare better as a YA. You see, my story contains magical elements and let's face it, YA is way more open to the magical and fantastical than adult books.

The funny thing about switching from contemporary to YA is the very fact that I do not read YA. Well, I have read the Harry Potter (gasp...please don't write me emails) and Twilight (gasp...please don't write me emails) and The Hunger Games (gasp...please don't write me emails). But they are secular books, not in the Christian arena.

So, what's a girl to do? She downloads some free YA ebooks.

And promptly realizes that most YA books are written in first person.

Sigh, have I ever mentioned that I don't care for first person? One of the things I love about Christian romance is getting into the hero's head, watching him fall head over heels in love with the heroine. You don't get that in first person.

I'm told I need to write in the tense that makes sense for me and the kind of story I want to write. Well, that would be THIRD person, thank you very much! Surely young adults out there want to read from the hero's point of view like I do. It's a matter of making the story come alive in any tense you choose.

The interesting thing about YA is the wild variety of books out there for the age group. Check out the following:
Think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

I'm thinking along the lines of Gossip Girl or Devil Wears Prada

Your romance


Another fantastical/spiritual

A medieval timetravel!!!! (I HAVE to get this one!)

Um, the title says it all, huh?

Your Christian vampire book.
I think one of the cool things about YA is the "anything goes" atmosphere. Such a variety. Such a wild array to choose from. The sky is the limit when thinking up story ideas for the YA crowd. Romance, ogres, magic, spiritual gifts, vampires, chick cliques...you name it! What fun you can have while writing for the Young Adult group.

Have you ever thought about writing a YA book? If so, what ideas do you have? If not, what are you writing and why? 


This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is wife to "Pastor John" and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she loves books, gummy bears, thunderstorms, and writing anything that has to do with fun, faith, and forever love.


Helen Wakefield said...

Hi Sherrinda,

Yes! I am writing YA. I came to the same realisation as you ... most are written in first person, when I'm writing in third. I attempted some scenes in first person and ... bleh ... it wasn't pretty.

I started hunting for some third person YA ... the carter house girls series which you've got on your post is third person, even though Melody writes a lot of her YA in first person.

I'm in Australia, and I'm writing about a farm girl who moves to Sydney for her senior high school years, and finds herself faced with a whole new world to deal with.

Lindsay Harrel said...

Would you be able to write first person scenes from the guy and girl's perspective, labeling whose perspective at the beginning of each scene? Just a thought.

I've thought about writing YA. My first novel is about an 18 year old, but also about her mom...so I think it has some YA elements but probably is more for 20- and 30-somethings...although I think older high school students may find some of it relevant as well.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I wrote a couple YA novels back in the day but that was when I was a teenager myself. I haven't thought a lot about it since then, although I think it's cool the different kind of freedom you have with a YA novel. I'd love to write all those fantastical elements in an adult novel, but I don't want to write fantasy or speculative fiction. Maybe it could just be a new Christian genre, labeled under romance, but with more magical sub-genres? :) I'm not sure that exists yet!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Sherrinda,

Good for you! It takes courage to leap into another genre! And YA is so hugely popular right now, I don't think you can go wrong!

I don't much care for first person either, although once I got into the Twilight series, I got used to it. But I'm sure if your story is good, third person is fine, too.

For me, I think I'll stick with adult fare - unless someday I get struck with the right story.

Best of luck with it!


Jeanne T said...

Sherrinda, I've been working my way through the Hunger Games trilogy. They've become so hugely popular that I wanted to check them out. :) No, I'm not ashamed to admit I've read them. :) As for the other two series you mentioned, I haven't ventured there yet. :)

As for me, I write women's fiction. The story that came to me is a WF, so that's what I'm writing right now.

I don't know if my voice melds with YA. Kudos to you for making the switch! I hope it goes well for you.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Sherrinda, don't feel bad! I've read some HP books, and all the Twilight and Hunger Games books. One thing I've found is that the YA writing moves faster and has lots of hooks. It's actually a good take-away for writers of most genres (except maybe literary fiction, which tends to be heavier/slower moving). One thing I'd LOVE about writing YA is that it's SHORTER! 50,000 words is a-okay for that, where getting from 50,000 to 80,000 is quite a jump (to write adult fiction). I've definitely started some YA stuff, and I love writing 1st person, BUT I find it's harder than I thought to get back into that teen mind-set. I just feel that my burden right now is to write to married people. Though my brain still thinks I'm about 15 years old sometimes! Grin.

Best of luck as you enter this market!

Nancy Kimball said...

I've read HP, Twilight, and the first book of Hunger Games (couldn't get into that one as much). I've even been to Forks, WA =)
And I still love Jesus. =)
For the same reasons you gave I prefer third person, and cried a river when Meyer killed Midnight Sun due to the viral leak. If you're a fan and have read Midnight Sun, e-mail me at nancykimball at hotmail and I'll send you something I bet you'd like. =)
I can't write YA, haven't even tried, but I know its a great market. Best wishes!

Sandra Stiles said...

Don't ask me to give you titles off the top of my head but as a teacher who puts YA books on her shelf, there are a lot of them written from third person POV. You just have to read A LOT of YA books.

My YA "Steps to Courage" was written from third person POV. I prefer third person as well.

Sara said...

Being a teenager myself, I like to write YA fiction. I am currently writing a historical. My only hesitation with it is that many teens may not find the story all that interesting(even though a lot of teens like to write it).

When writing YA, do you have any suggestions to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, preferably on every page or so? Thank you so much!

Chihuahua Zero said...

I'm also a teenager, and I also read and write YA. Currently, I'm writing an urban fantasy.

Although I prefer 1st person, I find my story with elements that aren't typical of the demographic. For example, a male protagonist. Considering the ratio in the market...I shouldn't be worrying about it, but compounded with other elements...

Julia M. Reffner said...

I definitely think I'll end up writing a YA at some point. I like writing about issues plus I can see myself wanting to write something my own children would like.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Helen, your YA in Australia sounds wonderful! I have always wanted to go there, because it reminds me of being on an adventure. And what young person doesn't want to be on an adventure? Um, not that I am young, but I am definitely young at heart.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Lindsay, for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the book that I read recently that did as you said. One chapter was written in the hero's perspective and the next chapter was written in the heroine's perspective - and it worked!

Sounds like your book would work either way, but of course, it depends on the subject matter. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Cindy, YES! We need a new genre...because my story would definitely fit into that kind of category. Romance with a bit of magic...kinda like that movie When In Rome. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Susan, it seems like YA is a booming genre. The thing about YA is that I like to write the kiss. And in YA you probably can't have a whole lot of it. lol

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Jeanne, to me WF would be difficult to write. Deep issues...sigh, I would feel so inadequate! I am more of a light and fluffy kind of writer, I think. So I must be suited to YA!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Heather, you mentioned a good point! YA is a shorter book...around 50,000. I totally forgot to mention that, so thanks! And good luck in your writing.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Nancy, yes, I have read part of the Midnight Sun and really enjoyed what I read. I'll shoot you an email. ;)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Sandra!!! You are a teacher who writes!!! I love that! I work in the school district as a admin. secretary, and I have the utmost respect for teachers. Kudos to you!

I will have to check out your book...and read more YA to find some third person. Happy writing!

AimeeLSalter said...

I write solely YA and while I usually write the protagonist in first person (that's the voice that comes to me), I often write secondary POV's in third person, close.

If you're more comfortable in third, there's a way to write so deeply in the POV that the reader barely notices. And from the teens I've had contact with, they don't care two hoots what POV is (they don't even know WHAT it is, usually). They just know what they like. They like to be right behind the character's eyes.

If you can do that in third, go to it, I say.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Sara, I'm so excited to hear from you! A teen who writes is such an inspiration to me...someone who is passionate about books and wants to share that with others! Kudos to you!

As for keeping the reader on the edge of their seats, I think you need to keep throwing problems at your characters. Either physical, mental, spiritual, keep the tension up by adding more and more conflict. What does your character want in the scene? What can you put in their way of getting it?

Sigh...makes my evil laugh want to come out....mwahahahahhaa!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Chihuahua! (love your handle, btw!) Like Sara in the comment above, I'm just soooo super charged by young writers. I love it! Keep those stories coming, because one day, one of your stories will get into the right hands and voila...you will get published!

Urban fantasy sounds so intriguing, and I think having a male protagonist is an awesome thing! There's lots of guy readers AND girls like being able to get into a guys head and understand how he thinks. ;)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Julia, I think that is an awesome idea to write for your children! Writing something they would enjoy is such a gift! And who knows but that it may be your GENRE?

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Aimee, I have heard of others writing in first person for the protag and second person for the other POV. I don't know if I could do that, but I find the whole thing intriguing.

Deep POV is something have been researching more about and LOVE it! It makes such a huge difference in the feel of the story!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

I've read By Darkness Hid (the whole trilogy in fact. Excellent!) and Nightmare Academy on your list.

Most of HP, though only the last half of the last book.

I write YA, and POV has been my bane this whole WIP.

I finally decided to pare it down to the hero and heroine, but as it's not a romance (in the modern sense) I'm still nervous about that.

Tell myself just to finish and move on to the next thing.

I write YA because my source material is the myths and ballads I've loved all my life, and fairy tales are the original YA: Young people leaving the familiar and learning to function in a world much bigger than they.

As to first person, I think it comes to me naturally enough, but all the advice I was fed when I began this story (~6 years ago) was akin to, "If you couldn't see it on a movie screen it's not good writing."

Sort of show-don't-tell taken to it's logical conclusion (So maybe that was just me. My super-power is instant extrapolation).

One of the crits I got was that the reader didn't get into the MC's head enough, so I've toyed with first person (even rewrote the first few chapters, and they were well-received), but I've still got that movie screen (requirement) ax hanging over me, and I get wobbly over what's acceptable to tell, since a genuine narrator isn't going to detail as much as the author.

My main concern is with my hero-- being recently disenchanted (returned to his human form; I said this was a fairy tale, right?) I hesitate to make him too accomplished language-wise. How articulate can you get living alone for a couple decades?

On the flip side, it could make the two voices more distinct, and maybe I could let he get more savvy as the story goes on...

Now you've got me thinking there again...

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Amy Jane, I loved what you shared about your WIP. There is nothing better than fairy tales. I grew up on them and I still adore the modern "remakes". There is so much you can do with myths and fairy tales!

What do you feel more comfortable writing in? 1st or 3rd person? I think you should write in what is most comfortable! If you like 3rd better, go into deep POV to get more of a "1st person feel". I just finished Jill Elizabeth Nelson's book Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV and it is brilliant! Probably the best thing I've ever read about it. It's only 2.99 for the e-version.

As for your hero not being articulate...you could totally get by with him talking in super short sentences. :) Guys are big talkers anyway, right? lol

Good luck in your writing!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Sherrinda-- re: 1st vs. 3rd, I have an internal conflict because in first I get in the skin and become the character-- or maybe the character becomes me, and I find I'm afraid of showing too much of myself.

So that's been part of the challenge: I'm constantly told (by the writing community) to do what I'm afraid of, and sometimes I do-- but every now and then I realize I would try something stronger if I only knew it would all come out under a pseudonym.

Which my husband says he won't agree to. His grandad is a big fish in a small (medium?) pond (wrote the book *Last of the Bush Pilots*) and my husband wants another Helmericks on the shelf.

I can't tell how much is a fear of being exposed and how much is a fear of finishing (but then, I guess that's about exposure, too).

Maybe the road's this long because I'm not strong enough yet.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Amy, I sooooo understand the fear. Fear is such an insidious thing, paralyzing us to where we can't even function at times. I think sometimes I even fear success...then I'd really be a writer and have to put out books on demand! While I think it is a good thing to push ourselves past the fear, I don't think our writing should be something that goes against our conscious of what it right for us.

I'm of the opinion that our books speak some kind of message to others. What is the message your book is to speak to others? What is it in your life, your experiences, your heart that the world needs to hear and feel? Let that be your guide, allowing that part of yourself to be exposed in order to bless others. You don't have to expose your entire self, but whatever has been laid upon your heart to share.

What I find interesting about the writing journey is the different destinations each of us come to. We all ride the same bus, but sometimes others get off at their destination before we do. It takes some of us longer than others to get published, but that's okay. However long it takes, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the process!

Thanks for sharing, Amy! I love your heart!