THE YOUNG ADULT WRITER’S JOURNEY
by Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds & Janet Schrader-Post
Finally, an all-inclusive book on young adult fiction must-do, don’t do and how-to. If you want to write a young adult novel, you need to read this book first. Coauthored by an award-winning YA author and an acquisitions editor, both experts on kids and what they like to read, this encyclopedia contains all you need to start or improve a career as a YA fiction author.
From an examination of the market, genre and its sub-genres, to mechanics and the business, everything is at your fingertips. This amazing writer’s resource is written in a relaxed and interesting style, with plenty of contemporary references and examples for clear understanding and easier application.
Most writing classes for Young Adult fiction and Middle Grade tell you the duty of your book’s opening is to hook your reader and to catch the interest of an agent. The truth is, that’s only one of the purposes of your opening. Too often we forget that, as Frank Herbert said in Dune, “A beginning is a very delicate time.”
When writing for young adults, you should know where you’re going, just as when you write adult fiction. Plot construction for stories with universal themes is the same in any genre. There is a plan, a plot, a diagram you can follow to create a satisfying read. Just as with painting, every artist who uses the same subject will create a different and unique work of art. So, using a basic outline to be sure you write a story that resonates to the inner psyche of readers is not a bad idea.
Some may argue that modern stories can’t demonstrate enough diversity when trying to fit the entire world into a single format such as The Hero’s Journey, but iconic success stories like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter stories and more don’t seem to mind. They’re hardly the same stories, are they? Do they seem like boring knockoffs to you? Millions of fans and dollars later…they are still growing their fan base. Lucas even spoke of Star Wars and the incorporation of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and appeared in his Bill Moyer’s series.
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What are your favorite and least favorite YA tropes?
This is the Wikipedia definition of trope. I had to look it up to make sure I answered the question correctly.
A literary trope is the use of figurative language, via word, phrase or an image, for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works.
I’m going to roll with the last part, the recurring literary or rhetorical device, motif and or cliché.
The current trend of using first person present tense makes me crazy. I think this can almost be called a trope. It sounds like a rough first draft. It’s extremely difficult to write correctly and rarely seen written correctly. I love writing in first person for short pieces or middle grade because you can connect so well with your characters. But for longer works with more complex characters, and more of them, I prefer third person past because you can be in several heads not just the one.
I don’t think I have a favorite motif. I love work that has humor in it. I like writing middle grade because for some reason, middle school kids and the problems they face, provide more room for humor. High-school kids are in pain, they’re suffering and there isn’t as much room for humor, though if you use creative characters and situations, you can find some.
I really love Science Fiction. I like reading it and writing it. I love interacting with animals in my books. Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds and I just wrote our first book in a fantasy series with dystopian overtones. We used dragons and I do love my dragons.
I’m not a fan of mushy romance in young adult fiction. I don’t think kids in high school have a clue about love. It’s a common topic in many Young Adult books. Girls are always forming a crush on one boy or another, but I believe most of it passes. They change their minds like they change their clothes. Boys entering puberty are lost in clouds of testosterone. They are only learning what love is and probably won’t discover true love until later in life. This is just my opinion and not necessarily fact.
The first Young Adult books I ever read were written in the sixties by Andre Norton and Walter Farley. I was a kid and I learned to love Science Fiction and the use of animals in fiction. I have a serious problem with some of the ways horses are used in fiction. If you’re going to put them in your book, please know what you’re talking about. Very few people own or ride stallions, almost no one. In Elizabeth’s and my most recent collaboration, Annabelle and the Jackal, there are mules and horses and none of them are stallions. Writers should know what horses can realistically do, because they can’t run all day, aren’t loving and kind, and only do one thing voluntarily and that’s eat. I’ve worked with them my whole life. I love horses, but I know them. And if you misuse them in your fiction, there are people out there who will know.
ABOUT JANET & ELIZABETH
Daughter of a Colonel, Janet Schrader-Post lived the military life until she got out of high school. She lived in Hawaii and worked as a polo groom for fifteen years, then moved to Florida where she became a reporter. For ten years she covered kids in high school and middle school. Kids as athletes, kids doing amazing things no matter how hard their circumstances. It impressed her, and it awed her. “How wonderful teens are. They have spirit and courage in the face of the roughest time of their lives. High school is a war zone. Between dodging bullies, school work and after school activities, teens nowadays have a lot on their plate. I wrote stories about them and I photographed them. My goal was to see every kid in their local newspaper before they graduated.”
Janet love kids and horses, and she paints and writes. Now she lives in the swampland of Florida with too many dogs and her fifteen-year-old granddaughter. She started to write young adult fiction with the help of her son, Gabe Thompson, who teaches middle school. Together they have written a number of award-winning YA novels in both science fiction and fantasy.
Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds knows kids well. She spent decades teaching teens and adults to write and improve their reading skills. As a literacy expert and certified coach, she helped both teachers from elementary to secondary and preservice graduate students learn to improve reading and writing instruction. She has taught at both the secondary and graduate level, everything from rhetoric, essays, and thesis statements, to poetry, short stories, and how to write a novel. She has learned to use both sides of her brain simultaneously, but enjoys the creative side the most, learning to play piano, draw and paint, and find time for her own writing since retiring from her “day” jobs.
A “true believer” in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, mythic structures, she uses that lens when considering manuscripts for Tell-Tale Publishing Group, a company she founded with some friends from her critique group a decade ago.
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The authors will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.