Wednesday, February 15, 2012

YA Fiction Tips for All Genres

There are times when the young adult sections of the bookstore or library are ever so much more enticing.

I wasn't sure what component held me bound to YA fiction until I interviewed a college freshman. 

She showed me a stack of regular fiction books waiting to be devoured then confessed to spending the last of her treasured dollars last week on a YA fiction book. She finished the YA book first

Seizing an interview moment I asked these questions:

Why do you like reading young adult fiction books?

**Quick Reads 
I can pick up a young adult book and read through it in a couple of hours. I probably can finish the book late in the same night. While I enjoy longer regular fiction stories, I don't always have the time to finish the book or read what happens next the next day, or possibly the week.

What makes a young adult book different from a regular fiction book?

**Fast Paced
The action is fast throughout the book. Thrills and spills like a roller coaster from the first page to the last. I can't help but flip the next page until I reach the end of the book. 

Regular fiction books have fast paced portions, which I like, too.

**Less Description
"Young adult fiction spend little time on description. I don't really care what the etchings on a sword looks like, get to the battle. Keep moving. Yes I want to know the setting, but within reason. Don't bore me with details." 

"The authors usually write like we speak, but every once in a while a word is thrown in that I don't know. I like that. I can figure out what the word means by the context. 

"In the regular fiction books these types of higher vocabulary words are a norm. Sometimes I want to be challenged by reading the regular fiction, but other times, I just want to chillax (chill + relax) and move through the story."

"Young adult books are more conducive to humor. Authors will use analogies that make me laugh. 

"Regular fiction tends to have more serious tone- not that serious is bad. It just depends on what mood I'm in at the time. There are funny regular fiction stories, but that's not what I'm talking about. Humor is woven into most YA books, not in regular fiction.

Well then, at what times are you in the mood for a young adult fiction read?

When I'm tired, I want something fast to read. If I am depressed I need humor and less effort to read through a book. If I want something nostalgic I might read something YA. Just because I choose to read a YA fiction over a regular fiction doesn't make me adorakable, it simply means I want a good, humorous, fast paced book that will take no effort to enjoy.

What does adorkable mean?  

"It's like a high school student who walks around wearing a Gryffindor scarf...adorkable."

How many adults will pick up a YA book for the same reasons? Lots.

I know many adults who've read Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, The Hunger Game, Anne of Green Gables, and etc.

As a young adult Christian fiction writer, I've picked up a few tips from today's interview:

  • YA word count is usually between 50,000 and 60,000 words. Now I know why.
  • Pace is quick. Breaths in action are needed but are not to be noticeable.
  • Minimal descriptions. Paint a vivid picture concisely.
  • Season with regular snippets of humor.
  • Seed the story with higher vocabulary
I know not all of you are YA writers. So tell me, how can you incorporate some of these components in your fiction genre?


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This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary lives in Montana with her husband and loves to hear from her three college kids. She writes Christian young adult fiction (pirate tales, missionary and Bible adventure stories).
She thinks of writing as: Stepping into Someone Else's World.
To learn more about Mary, visit her blog


Naomi Rawlings said...

Interesting thoughts in YA, Mary. I think your interviewee reads it for all the reasons I generally stay away. But it's fun to compare. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Interesting post, Mary! I just started writing a YA, so this is great food for thought. And I didn't know that YA was generally 50-60,000 words. Cool beans!

chihuahuazero said...

I was talking about YA last night and it took a nasty turn but this is a reminder of why I love the genre.

Julia M. Reffner said...

Adorkable, I love it. I just started a YA, too, like Sherrinda so I'm looking for all the tips I can get.

Naomi, That's what I think is so neat. So many different perspectives.

CO, thanks for stopping by. Glad to have a YA lover here.

Casey said...

Great post, Mary and great things to learn for our own fiction and how to apply it to our stories.

Sherrinda, I didn't know that either. Interesting. :)

Lindsay Harrel said...

Love your thoughts here! I think I tend to write like a YA writer, in that I don't put a ton of description in. Maybe I should put in more, but I do like the bent toward action over description.

And I'm ashamed to admit, I read each of the Hunger Games books in one day...when I had other work to do. (Hangs head)

Casey said...

Lindsay, wow, one day? Those things aren't thin either. ;-) I don't write YA, so I don't have a lot of knowledge to go off of, but it seems a little description goes a long way with YA. It's so important to choose the RIGHT description above all. Especially since you have such a short time span to work with.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Mary, this was great. I read YA here and there, too, and for all those reasons. I enjoy writing humor in my stories, probably because it gives that reader a break in tension and I like reading humor myself. Great post!

Lindsay Harrel said...

Yes, Casey, I'm a fast reader. I need to go back and re-read, because I'm sure I missed things in my frenzy to get to THE END!

Unknown said...

Mary, very intersting post. Now I have a better picture of what makes YA, well YA. Thanks for defining it in my head.

I think one thing I can incorporate into my writing will be vivid, concise descriptions. Still working on writing tight.

Lindsay--wow! One day! I finally began the Hunger Games about a week ago, and I'm still trying to finish it. I've been having dreams about the story. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I haven't read the Hunger Games yet, but I really want to!

Jeanne, that's a great thing to incorporate into writing of all genres--especially the "writing tight" part. You don't have to write YA to want to keep descriptions concise and appropriate to your genre. That's definitely a skill I'm still trying to master :)

Ruth Douthitt said...

Hey great tips!! I am writing a Christian YA book right now and needed these tips. I do plan on putting the action right up front. I need to cut down on descriptions and add more "adorkable" moments.

I appreciate this post! Thanks!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Great post on how writing YA is applicable to other genres ... particularly dialogue and humor.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Ruth, sounds like you have a plan! I love those "adorkable" moments. All the best on your story!

Beth, you're right. Takeaways from writing YA are definitely applicable to other genres. Gives us an excuse to read YA more often, right? :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I tell you readers, the Writers Alley is a super gang. I asked for help with hosting my post today, had an important family event to attend.
Thanks for all your comments. And thank you Alley cats for helping me.

Don't you just love "adorkable" and "chillax" for descriptors? I love learning new words from teens.

Pepper said...

This post was purely adorkable!
And so insightful.

I think one of the reasons I like Mary Connealy's books so much are for the same reasons that young lady in your post mentioned.She's not YA, but she has that fast-paced feel.

Those tips you listed gave me all the more reason why I should write YA :-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Come over to the dark side, Pepper. buwahahahaha.