I am holding a mug of hot cocoa with pink marshmallows bobbing and moshing together, some melting into my cup, others sticking to the sides. Do you remember what it tasted like the first time you had hot cocoa? Was it a cold day, or just for fun? Did you bypass the required cooling period and accidentally burn your tongues tip? What was it like to suck in your first mini-marshmallow and feel the sweet texture against the roof of your mouth?
Are you there? Did you drift away into a warm memory of snow on the streets and the promise of breaking in your new sled?
Breaking into our memories is one thing, but reaching back to the first times you experienced pieces of life, those are the memories that light my emotions on fire. This is an underused weapon in most genres. Although, one genre is lucky enough to utilize this weapon throughout every aspect of their writing.
Young Adult Fiction.
YA authors don’t glaze over first time memories. Their genre demands that they dive to the bottom of the memory pool and show us every emotion and decision their protagonists make during these precious moments of discovery.
- What memories are chosen?
- When you flesh memories out of your life and into your story, do they move your story forward?
- Do they deepen characterization?
- Is your voice unique enough?
- Do you truly understand your POVs volcanic relationships?
- How are you showing the sequence of events to the reader?
- How much emotion does your protagonist show, and how much are you leaving for the reader to feel for themselves?
Big questions to answer.
And if you succeed in finding the perfect emotional formula for your novel, there will be BIG REWARDS. *cough, cough…Hunger Games.
Speaking of exquisite examples of writing craft, let’s take a peek at an excerpt from Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games:
I hear Peeta’s voice in my head. She has no idea. The effect she can have. Obviously meant to demean me. Right? But a tiny part of me wonders if this was a compliment. That he meant I was appealing in some way. It’s weird, how much he’s noticed me. Like the attention he’s paid to my hunting. And apparently, I have not been as oblivious to him as I imagined, either. The flour. The wrestling. I have kept track of the boy with the bread.————-Collins, Suzanne (2009-09-01). The Hunger Games (p. 93). Scholastic Books. Kindle Edition.
Collins lets us watch her protagonist waffle between thoughts about the possible love/like interest. We get to know more of the POVs personality through these segments. What if she had just said, “I think that boy likes me, and, gosh, maybe I like him too!” BORING.
Gale’s eyes fastened on the bow. “Can I see that?” I handed it over. “Just remember, stealing’s punishable by death.” That was the first time I ever saw him smile. It transformed him from someone menacing to someone you wished you knew. But it took several months before I returned that smile.—————–Collins, Suzanne (2009-09- 01). The Hunger Games (p. 111). Scholastic Books. Kindle Edition.
She sure knows how to present the base of a relationship. A snarky – could be friend-flirty remark. In return a fresh description of a smile that takes us a step deeper into who Gale is. Then she tells us something HUGE about her character. Even at 14, this girl was cautious and stubborn. And as a bonus, Collins raises the question, what will those traits do for her POVs future? Thank you Suzanne Collins for also raising the YA emotional bar.
The most common first memory found in YA novels is that of LOVE. I’m not sure if it’s because when we are young we are able to feel love more? Or, that love itself makes us feel young again. Whatever it is, YA authors find themselves heart deep in first loves, first glances, first worry, first kisses, first lovers quarrel, first jealousy, first betrayal, and the biggest of all – first heart break.
Readers are attracted to the rawness that First Love brings to the story. The depth to which the author goes to show inside POV is like we are being thrown into our own youth to relive these cognitive adventures. Our brains start shooting endorphins. Poof!
The imagined reality of this teenage world is intoxicating. Who wouldn’t want to read YA fiction?
The audience of YA fiction is now surpassing anything publishers would have dreamed of 10 years ago. Literary agents are widening their submission guidelines to include YA fiction and it’s plethora of sub-genres. Authors like Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Harlan Coben, John Grisham, and Candace Bushnell are now pushing out YA series by the handful.
I refuse to let them have all of the fun.
So I ask you, “Are you ready to dive into the pool?” Because readers are out there. Out there waiting for their next emotional ride.
If you don’t write it, someone else will!
Happy Valentine’s Day, and THANK YOU for joining me today for my NEW ONLINE COURSE REVEAL! DrummmmmRollPlease?!?
77 Secrets To Writing Young Adult Fiction That Sells!
A class where I guide writers to find their own emotional formula for a successful YA novel. It’s a delicate process, and different for each story.
I never said it was easy. None of this is easy, or EVERYONE would be writing YA novels. But I do think I have found a few other secret weapons to combat the competition.
- Writer’s-eyes-only Interviews with bestselling YA authors, YA super agents, YA debut authors
- Dissecting Top Ten YA fiction from 2010/11 for a prime learning experience, exposing layers of writing craft that will get you sold.
- Understanding Highs and Lows of the emotional teeter-totter underlying your character motivations
- Focus your authentic YA voice: dialogue, framework, phrasing – sometimes the only thing between you and the top of the pile.
- Talk the talk and walk the walk: solid characters/ characterization from protagonist to the neighbor kid working the counter at the pizza joint
- Learning Do’s and Don’ts of writing warm n’fuzzy and hot n’steamy
- Maneuvering between the delicate fibers of teenagers and their guardians
- Pulling your reader’s psychological strings and manipulating the cinematography behind your POV’s lens
- Extra Extra! Are you up for the challenge of co-authoring YA with your son/daughter?
Read more about 77 Secrets To Writing YA Fiction That Sells: http://tiffanylawsoninmanisnakededitor.com/writing-courses-what-where-and-how/
Or, go to Lawson Writer’s Academy to register!
******Can’t wait till April for a writing challenge? Wanna start small?
Kicking off the 2nd Dirty Fighting Contest and I am judging!! To find out more and get prepared go to: http://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/dirty-fighting-contest-round-2/
Head on over and see what dirty fighting (writing) is all about. Make sure you click on the links to see our previous round of sling slangin’ kick a$$ scenes.
First prize gets their scene edited by me on St. Patty’s day! ** I’m sure there will be MORE prizes once St. Patty’s day rolls around. I’ll toss down a few green beers and who knows what I’ll be giving away for free?!!?
Speaking of FREE . . . Catch the S W E E T D E A L ! Register for Tiffany’s April classes and/or Margie’s March class by March 1st and you could WIN an 8-PAGE EDIT!
Go to Lawson Writer’s Academy to register!