Writing the Breakout YA Novel

When I first started to write my manuscript, I didn’t think about what genre it would fall into. I didn’t really care, I just wanted to tell my story and knew I could figure out the rest later. I don’t think it does anyone any good to write a story with a specific genre in mind, or a lesson they want to teach someone, or to follow a current trend.

Trends change, it’s pretty much impossible to guess what the next trend will be and the current one will probably be dead before you can publish the novel you are working on right now. No one likes to be taught a lesson by a novel, particularly teens, but we all learn something anyway. If it’s a good story then we enjoy it and when we think about it later we realize we learned something. But have you ever read a story that was blatantly trying to teach you a lesson? Like “Don’t do drugs, kiddos!” those aren’t fun. I think a perfect example of this is the movie Charlie Bartlett. It was funny, entertaining, and interesting… until the end became a blatant moral lesson about how kids shouldn’t do drugs.

Yeah, I agree, doing prescription drugs when you don’t have a prescription is a bad idea. Duh. I figured that out from the rest of the movie, being blatantly reminded that at the end just made a five star movie fade to a three star one. I’d rather read/watch a great story that has a moral lesson to be learned subtly on the side.

Plus, if you write your story without any of those things in mind, you open up the possibility to surprise yourself with what your finish product turns out to be.

I’ll admit, I got into researching the market place and the publishing business later than I would have liked. I wish I had started it years before I did. When I first started to test the water and see what was going on I invested a lot of time in Writer’s Digest. Reading their blog, their magazine, their writing books, and all that fun stuff. I’ve bought a tutorial or two (which used to be WD webinars) but they always came with a package deal, so I didn’t intentionally buy just one of them.

But last week I signed up for a live webinar event and it finally happened today. It was an hour and a half webinar called Writing the Breakout YA Novel and it was hosted by literary agent Holly Root. By the way, that’s a name you should know. She’s an extremely active, high up, literary agent. You’ll probably want to query her if you write adult or young adult fiction. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of the webinar (other than a query critique by Holly Root — which I’m so excited about!) since I had done a lot of research in this area already.

I’m glad I attended it, though. It was nice to hear how the YA market is growing and there are still a lot of opportunities in it now. Even though the traditional publishing business is in the midst of change because of technology advances and such (and no one is for sure what will happen to it). Most of the fellow writers I talk to on a regular basis are indie self-published authors and they aren’t that reassuring when it comes to the traditional publishing place. I love all you indie writers, of course, but usually you went indie because you have little or no faith in the traditional publishing market (or you are disenchanted by it). To each their own, as I always say, but going indie isn’t what I want. I’m not ruling it out, but I’ve always wanted to go the traditional route.

A third of the webinar was new and interesting to hear about, another third I already knew but it was still nice to hear Mrs. Root’s take on it, and then the last third of it… I may or may not have gotten distracted by interior design ideas. Of course when I got distracted I was still listening and taking in what was said (I’m brilliant at multitasking at least that’s what I tell myself). I don’t know what it is, but if I’m not multitasking I feel like I’m wasting time. Except, of course, when I’m writing. Though, I’m always listening to music/watching a movie/tv show at the same time… In less I’m revising, then I’m usually just listening to music (if anything).

I digress, my point is this: the YA market is a live, thriving, and to hear that makes me happy.

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