>> Monday, August 8, 2011
I know, "K" for "kids" is a bit lame, but there's something on my mind and it won't go away. Humour me, A2Z4UandMe followers (there may just be chocolate in it for you).
Right now I'm working on a Christian YA novel. It's been excruciatingly fun, and not just because I get to think like a teen for awhile. I also get to chat for hours with my kids about the plot, characters, gadgets and scenes in the story. And I'm remembering how it felt to be fourteen - so filled with fire, attitude and a hunger for something more.
(Sheesh, catch me after a double espresso and I feel that way now, at 35.)
In the course of my writing I'm also reading a lot about the genre, including plotline, character creation and publishing tips. What I've read is that although YA novels are exceedingly popular right now, publishers are still looking for high quality writing that's different, fresh and full of attitude.
One blurb that struck my fancy was in the special Writer's Digest issue aimed at Children and YA authors.
The writer of the article noted that teens can spot a fake from a mile off. They are looking for a genuine voice, a relatable character and an inspiring story. This thought came from secular agents and publishers by the way, not Christian companies.
Kids and teens of all faiths are looking for the real deal. They don't want a sermon. They don't want a cardboard-cut-out lead that makes all the right choices. They want an MC with personality flaws, quirks and even strange vices (my lead has a passion for nachos and counts the hairs on his chest every Saturday morning - he has seventeen to date).
And they want to be emotionally bonded to that lead.
One thing that readers love about Harry Potter, Edward Cullen, Katniss Everdeen and Alex Rider is that they can cheer them on. Readers want to worry about the MC (or so the experts say). Sure they want to live vicariously and get lost in another world, but if they aren't emotionally invested in the main character all is lost.
And that's why kids and teens want honesty. Don't shy away from how people really are. Don't sugar coat. Give these young readers some credit and deliver characters they will care about, relate to and even fall in love with.
It's a tall order. But IMHO, the kids and teens of our communities are well worth the effort.
Always Typing Away on my MS,
thanks for the pics :0 - sxc/pOpsicle (teens hanging out) & sxc/hortongrou (wee girls reading)