Writing for Middle Grades and Young Adult
- What are YA reading now?
- Don’t go where the market is now, because the market moves
- Plenty of fantasy
- Not much science fiction
- Duane: Not much science fiction is being written for those ages
- Hunger Games
- movie driving book sales
- Dystopia wave: 50 in the pipeline
- some are great, but many are just OK
- Is Dystopia overused?
- The adult author side-step
- One reason YA has often been the best of the scifi field is because they won’t put up with crap. They don’t want a 500 page introduction.
- A YA reader don’t have filters: they will either love it or hate it, but they won’t just tell you “it’s nice”.
- How do you write for YA?
- I just write a book, and the reader will find their own level.
- Any good YA book can be read by anyone from 10 to 99.
- But you do have to censor yourself a little bit: no sexually explicit scenes
- middle grades: 40k to 75k
- ya: 75k words
- adult: 100k to 120k
- 16 year old age is best protagonist age
- nancy drew: is 19 for all of the books
- need to keep the momentum up
- volunteered from audience: protagonist should be about 2 years older than the audience you are shooting for
- the adults in the novel shouldn’t solve problems
- the protagonist has to solve their problem
- but don’t make the adults be incompetent.
- Q: Prose style: Do we need to use simpler language or metaphor?
- Anna: can use any word, so long as the supporting text helps define it
- Q: Should YA deal with big issues: bullying, existantial angst, etc?
- Alma: there’s no reason to write a downer of a book, nor should you pick an issue and write a book around it. write your plot, and the issues will come up, and they should be addressed.
- Duane: Rob Thomas, wrote YA books, and really got the voice right.
- Q: Is romance too prevalent in the YA market?
- Duane: It can’t be romance for the sake of romance. It has to be written with a real plot.
- In a school situation, if one kid reads a book, everyone will read it. And if one kid likes it, the other kids feel pressure to like it too.
- Q: How do you go about getting YA published?
- With difficulty.
- Q: Have you written anything into YA that was controversial, that got pushback from editor or publisher?
- Anna: Yes. And I went with a different publisher so I could keep the creepier ending I wanted. You have to pick your battles.
- Agents are invaluable. They will help with battles with the editor.