Monday, December 2, 2013
Flick (spotlight, guest post on 10 Elements Every YA Story Should Have and GIVEAWAY!)
I am fortunate to have a guest post from Keira Des Anges, who has an intriguing young adult novel out. Here are some words of wisdom from the author:
10 Elements Every YA Story Should Have
by Keira Des Anges
YA fiction is hot. The books and movies sell millions worldwide, and luckily for YA writers, this trend doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop. Yet what is the key to writing a successful YA book? Here are some points to consider:
If You're 30, Don’t Sound Like It: Most YA fiction isn’t written by young adults, so it’s important to stay in character. If you’re 30, channel your inner 13-year old. A teenager doesn’t talk like you, me, or your office co-worker…although sometimes I wish they did!
Limit the Use of Slang: Too much slang is overrated. I have two teenagers and they use slang sparingly (and yes, I do eavesdrop when they’re talking to their friends). It’s okay to sprinkle some slang in here and there, but slang changes and will eventually date your book. ‘Fresh’ was in when I was young, but no one uses it now. 10 years from now, today’s slang will be obsolete. In order to stay current, less is probably more.
Don’t be Afraid of Big Words: Now that we’re limiting the use of slang, what type of words do we use? Personally, I think teenagers are smarter than we give them credit for. Yes, they’re reading for entertainment, but the wonderful byproduct of reading is exposure to words they’ve never heard before. Don’t force big words – it should flow – yet, don’t dumb-down the vocabulary either.
Know Your Audience: Understand what your audience likes to read. We all write books we enjoy, but we write for the readers; therefore, what they enjoy is of the utmost importance. Read other successful YA books, look on social media and research topics that are important to today’s youth. What you learn may translate into a great story both you and the readers will love.
Make the Characters Real: The characters need to be interesting; perhaps someone they can identify with. They want to live the fantasy, buy-in to the characters. That’s why they’re invested in the story. If the characters or story are too unbelievable, they lose interest…fast.
Pace the Story: This is probably the speediest generation EVER! They want things yesterday, or the day before. This is why pacing is so important. In order to keep the reader interested, the dialogue needs to be entertaining and the action must flow quickly. Everyone likes a little drama, but tweens and teens crave it more.
Identify a Theme: What is the theme of your story? Is it a person searching for his/her identity, a coming of age story etc? I think we have to guard against becoming too ‘preachy,’ but some type of lesson, or insight about the character’s development, is definitely helpful. Hopefully, the reader will walk away a little introspective.
A Little Romance is Helpful: Boys may not need it (and even this is debatable), but if your audience is teenage girls a little romance – even the slightest hint at one – is a necessity. It doesn’t have to be the focal point of the story, but I don’t know too many teenage girls that aren’t interested in dating or boys!
Talk to Actual Teenagers: Who knows more about being a teenager than an actual teenager? Yeah, we were all teenagers once, but that time has come and gone. Each generation is different. If you know any teenagers, talk to them. Find out what they go through, what is important to them, even what they like to read. Teenagers are a wealth of creative information that can make our story more believable and stronger.
Perhaps a Book 2, 3 or 4: Never rule out the possibility of a sequel. Maybe your characters journey isn’t over, so how the book ends is just as important as how it begins. If the readers really enjoy your work, they’ll be waiting for book 2 with bated breath!
I hope this information is helpful! Please leave a comment if you have any tips of your own.
by Keira Des Anges, a young adult novel
Leanna Matthews enjoys flying below the radar. She does well in school, has a few close friends and hides the fact she’s an astral-traveling telekinetic. But there’s no escaping her creepy dreams or Simora, the bizarre little spirit lady, who suddenly pops out of nowhere to warn her against keeping secrets and predicts an encounter with a sinister evil. For the first time in forever someone…or something…is on to her.
But life turns around when Leanna meets Piper one sunny afternoon. She’s inexplicably drawn to him, almost as if she’s been waiting for him to come. Forbidden to have a boyfriend, Leanna throws caution to the wind, lying to her family and friends to be with him, while ignoring Simora’s ominous message.
Yet Piper has a secret of his own. He is on a mission and Leanna, unwittingly, is the key.
EXCERPTOne of the fringe benefits of astral traveling is never using doors, and when Leanna walked straight through the wall into the brightly lit hallway, the hustle and bustle of the day seemed all but forgotten. Various medical personnel marched determinedly to their destinations and Leanna quickly dodged a team of doctors rushing down the corridor and the hysterical woman behind them. She moved out of habit really; even if they bumped her they’d simply melt right through.
She stopped by the nearest nursing station hoping to hear news on her aunt. But to her disappointment, the staff proved useless. They were more interested in Nurse Johnson’s fling with the new anesthesiologist than discussing their charges. Her mother was a medical professional; Leanna knew nurses were an integral part of the medical team. But these guys were worse than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy! Eventually bored of their gossip, Leanna made her way to the opposite end of the floor.
“Hey, Leanna!” Her name rang out clearly as she passed by the waiting room door. “Over here!” said the voice.
Startled, Leanna turned around to peek inside. Three people sat in the small, blue waiting area. Two women whispered animatedly to one another and a stoic looking man held a magazine, although his eyes seldom moved across the page. They didn't see her, so Leanna wondered who just called.
Then she saw her.
A little Indian woman, no more than four feet in stature sat in a green and purple, wing-backed armchair in the middle of the room grinning and waving madly at her. She looked no more than thirty years old and was dressed in shimmering gold from head-to-toe with a sheer, golden scarf draped over her bright, oval face and jet-black hair.
Tiny glittery shoes peeked out from beneath the frock and sparkled as brightly as Dorothy’s red slippers in the Wizard of Oz. Leanna thought she even resembled a munchkin, in a cute sort of way. Like Auntie, she seemed more real than anyone else in the room and her smile grew larger as Leanna approached cautiously.
“Don’t worry sweetheart, I don’t bite,” she said. The little lady patted a second green chair embossed with bright purple and orange polka dots, which mysteriously sprang out of nowhere, and Leanna sat down.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she beamed, greeting Leanna like a long-lost friend and clapping her hands excitedly. “I’m so glad you finally came!”
“Waiting for me? Why? Who are you?” Leanna asked, not quite sure she should be talking to her in the first place.
“Oh my! You don’t know me do you?” she giggled childishly. “I’ve been with you so long I sometimes forget you don’t remember.”
“Remember?” Leanna asked now thoroughly confused. “I’m sorry, what are you talking about? We’ve never met before,” she said apologetically.
“Oh Leanna, trust when I say I have been with you all of your earthly life, before and beyond,” the lady corrected. “Until now you haven’t seen me because it wasn’t time. But I have been with you as promised and kept watch over you. Which, I might add, has been quite a task considering your little adventures,” she said smiling again, taking some of the sting from her words.
Leanna frowned, studying the peculiar, little lady in the shiny clothes. She didn’t know why or how, but she did look vaguely familiar, like she might’ve seen her around; possibly in a dream. Somehow, Leanna sensed there was more to the story than that.
Flick (Amazon link)
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Book Video: http://youtu.be/J0iUsTkB--w
Book Video embed code:
Flick (Amazon link)
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