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Five Tips for Writing Young Adult Fiction
by Kim Baccellia
Young Adult novels have changed a lot in just a few years. I’ve learned a few things by reviewing this genre. Just because there’s a teen in a book doesn’t mean it’s YA. Once I was in a critique group that got offended when my heroine used the f-bomb or if my scene had edgy material. Some of my favorite comments included: She’s too mouthy and disrespectful. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be like this! I can’t believe you actually wrote that!
Needless to say I’m not in that group anymore!
Here are some tips I’ll learned on my own writing journey:
- Know the genre. By this I mean, go out and read some current YA books. A lot has changed in last 20 or 30 years. Think FOREVER by Judy Blume was shocking? Recent YAs are edgier and deal with such sensitive subjects as abuse, drug use, suicide, and even incest. Also reading up on current YA will help you with the voice.
- Read up on the trends in YA. Yes, agents and editors say don’t write to the trends but I feel it’s important to know the market. What is hot right now? Will vampires wane any time soon? Some trends I’ve seen with my recent YA Books Central reviews include fallen angels, werewolves, paranormal romances, characters with super human abilities, ghosts, urban fantasies, and steam punk. Yes, this can and will change but reading up on the recent trends will help you get a better feel for this genre.
- Join a critique group. This is a huge must. Not only will other writers point out parts of your story that need to be strengthened, it also helps to have people who aren’t family read your work. And I really think by doing this you grow as a writer.
- Join SCBWI. Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators helps you with local conferences, schmooze’s, and get togethers where you meet fellow YA writers. Regional SCBWI groups can set you up with a critique group too.
- **A great suggestion from an author on Facebook: Spend as much time around teens as you can, and absorb their speech and behavior patterns. Teens disdain adults who try to write in their voice if they don’t do it spot on. Find out what’s important to teens. What do they want to read?
- And finally, Just write the story. Don’t be like those who say they want to write and have excuse after excuse why they can’t. Face it, if you don’t write, the story won’t be written.
Kim Baccellia has always been a sucker for the paranormal. She blames it on her families’ love for such things such as having picnics at cemeteries, visiting psychics, and reading her mother’s copies of the daily horoscope. She even had her own horoscope column in middle school, which was a big hit! Kim’s other works include the poem, “My Father”, which appears in the anthology Mind Mutations, published by The Sun Rising Press. Her essay about the adoption of her son, Finally, Our Turn, appeared in Adoptive Families magazine. Her YA multicultural fantasy, Earrings of Ixtumea, is published by Virtual Tales and available now at Amazon. A member of SCBWI, Kim is currently writing the sequel to Crossed Out, her latest paranormal young adult fiction novel. She’s also putting the finishing touches on an upper MG fantasy No Goddesses Allowed. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.
You can visit her website at www.kimbaccellia.com.