Friday, January 23, 2015

Writing Young Adult Books

One of my pen names writes YA (young adult) books.  Her name is Kyra Myles, but you probably already know this from past blog postings.  Why did I create such a pen name?

At the time I created Kyra Myles' name, my two daughters were teenagers.  There wasn't much out there for them to read that wasn't smutty in nature but geared toward their age range (YA is for ages 12 and up).  I've found that a lot of girls' YA books have explicit sex scenes and swearing, when the readers are very innocent and know nothing of such a world.  They read that stuff for the 'wow' factor.  I didn't want my girls reading those books, so I created the pen name of Kyra Myles.

My first book was Angel 911: bullied, about a girl who is bullied at school.  As it turns out, she has a guardian angel who helps her, because the bullies are demonic, especially the 'lead' bully.  This is part of a series of books.  It's the basic good vs. evil scenario.

I also write many of my YA books in first person (taken from the viewpoint of the main character). Therefore, the narrative is all about 'I' and 'me' when written.  Some readers don't like this, but personally, those are my favorite types of books.  I use that point of view for many of my Andie Alexander books, as well.  Why?  Because I can really get into character in my head when I write like that.  I'm not an outsider seeing what's going on, but am only in one person's head for the entire book.  Thoughts come more naturally for my characters when I write like that.

I did a bit of research on how to write YA books and came up with the following:

  • Think like a teenager, not like an adult.  
  • The main character (the protagonist) should be older than 12.  Kids read 'up' but rarely 'down' in age.  So a kid of 12 wouldn't read a book with a kid who's 12, but would read about a kid of 14, for example.  Thus, the main characters need to be older than 12.
  • Talk like a kid, in narration and in dialogue.  This can sound like an adult, but have bits and pieces of 'teenager' talk in it.  Hang out with some teenagers and you'll see what is appropriate.
  • Overemphasize things, as teenagers do.  'Everybody in the world was staring at me.'  Now, that's really not possible, but to a teenager, it feels that way.
  • Write short--short sentences, short paragraphs, and even shorter books (70,000 words and less).
  • There should be lots of inward conflict.  First person lends itself really well to this.  The more drama, the better.

So, writing a YA book is different than writing other books, but in some ways, it's the same.  I just think like my kids, who are filled with drama, even into their 20s, and voila, it comes out in my books.

Have a great week!


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