Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why writing books for young adults is so fulfilling

Source: Dwallsdotcom
There are many reasons to write books for young adults. For starters, they’re one of the best-selling genres around at the moment. But beyond commercial purposes, there are a lot of aspects that are extremely fulfilling for writers of all ages.

Writing young adult novels offers you the chance to embrace your inner teenager and make the most of your own immature ways. It provides the opportunity to relive your teens, complete with a happy ending— your own romanticized version of your adolescence as the plot of a series of young adult fantasy novels, with your alter ego as the star. 

You can rewrite your past with the accoutrements you always wanted and dramatize and embellish the facts of what really happened. You can attribute the protagonist with those supernatural powers you always dreamed of or the fairy godmother you coveted when you first read one of the original fairy tales, Cinderella. Or the evil stepmother, your choice.

What’s most fulfilling about writing young adult novels, whether you’re penning dystopian literature or science fiction and fantasy books, is that you have the opportunity to give your audience hope. Young readers savor being able to relate to the situations that many protagonists of young adult novels experience. While Katniss in The Hunger Games exists in a post apocalyptic world that we will hopefully never be able to truly comprehend, we can empathize to her burgeoning feelings for the boy she thought was her best friend, Gale, and understand the confusion she suffers through when she begins to have feelings for another, her partner in the Games, Peeta. Plus, the strength and courage Katniss exudes is inspiring and offers teenage readers the hope that they often seek when reading this multifaceted genre.

Another aspect that is very satisfying to writers of YA, especially those who pen young adult fantasy novels, is that you can create the most imaginative otherworldly settings and then still convey an inspiring message to readers. Whether it’s an elaborate post apocalyptic world such as the radiation-ravaged dystopias of Revealing Eden or Pure, the characters can still be real and embody human characteristics that readers of all ages can relate to and understand, and therefore, take away the message you want to share or the intention behind your writing. Few genres provide such a unique opportunity.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why paranormal romance novels?


It’s hard to believe that paranormal romance novels are still the highest selling subgenre of romance. One would think it’s purely the escapism factor, but with the influx of dystopian literature this year, even though much of it may have a depressing premise, the glimmer of hope most dystopian novels provide should be enough to overcome the undying obsession with vampirism and witchcraft.

Paranormal romance novels still subscribe to the hero as a knight in shining armor who rescues the female protagonist. While she may not fit the old school damsel in distress paradigm, she’s not quite the empowered female who survives an apocalypse to claw her way to some type of livable existence in a dystopian society. She’s not the Katniss or Eden Newman that we all kind of want to be deep inside.

The thing with some of the fantasy novels that are considered the best in the genre or have the highest sales is that they have these characters that possess imaginary supernatural powers that enable them to overcome tremendous obstacles and survive nearly any kind of attack to save their love. Meanwhile, the protagonists in novels that are dystopian tend to be real people with the skills, physical prowess and intelligence that may actually be within reach of most readers.

If you think about it, the supernatural powers boasted by characters in paranormal romance novels are actually a bit of a crutch. How strong is a character really if they’re able to fly at the speed of lightning, read their enemy’s minds and lift thousands of pounds with one finger?

It’s interesting that many readers consider to the best fantasy novels are those that have such little element of realism. We know that there are no such things as vampires and wizards, so perhaps fans of the genre prefer the purity of this type of fantasy. Maybe fans of novels that are dystopian prefer the mix, some fantastical elements with some elements of realism. It’s interesting to think about—which do you relate to more and why?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

End of the world books, steampunk and dystopian literature

The most popular trends among young adult fiction this summer include end of the world books, steampunk and dystopian literature. While none of these are necessarily new, each has been a niche genre among books for young adults for ages. They’re all at the forefront of the book world right now, possibly because of the fascination with the prophecies associated with 2012, Nostradamus’ prophecies and the end of the Mayan calendar.

Steampunk originated during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It typically incorporates elements of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, alternate history and speculative fiction. The name is derived from the settings that characterize steampunk—eras where steam power were widely used. These can include the Victorian era, as well as fictional, post-apocalyptic times and alternate histories. They often contain futuristic innovations and technology that people from each era may have envisioned. Popular authors who delved into these techniques include Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.  

Technically considered a subgenre of science fiction, end of the world books are concerned with the end of civilization, resulting from an apocalyptic event or existential catastrophe such as a nuclear war, pandemic, extraterrestrial attack, natural disaster, supernatural phenomena, zombie outbreak or some other cataclysmic event. They've become a very popular theme among books for young adults over the past year.

Dystopian literature and end of the world books are very similar. Dystopia is the opposite of utopia—a society characterized by squalor, poverty, oppression, dangerous conditions, and often times, a struggle to survive. Dystopian novels usually extrapolate elements of contemporary society and integrate political messages and thought-provoking circumstances. End of the world books are typically set during or directly after the apocalyptic disaster, which is common with dystopian novels as well.   

What books from each of these genres have in common most recently are strong, feisty female leads empowered by the struggles they encounter in their world, whether it’s a post apocalypse world or an otherworldly setting. Good examples of this among dystopian literature include The Hunger Games and Revealing Eden.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Inspiration for young adult novels

Where do authors get ideas for writing young adult novels? Many writers are so prolific, it seems that they have a never ending source of stories in the back of their mind. That’s true for some authors, but for others, it takes a little digging to reveal the stories they need to tell.  

Probably the best source for the premise of whatever you want to write, whether it be young adult fantasy novels or dystopian literature, is your own life. We’ve all had unique experiences as well as similar ones to others in the YA age range during particular phases of our lives—regardless of which you write about, you’ll be able to share your own unique perspective of situations that all readers can relate to on some level.

Many writers of young adult novels are way past the years of adolescence. While it could seem more difficult to write for a younger audience, it’s actually much easier. It’s easy and can be inspiring to write about past experiences, since you’ve been there and done that. Even if you’re writing young adult fantasy novels that take place in an otherworldly setting, it’s the perspective of the protagonist that you can relate to, even when they live in an imaginary world.  

As many writers and instructors say, “write what you know.” You’re only stealing from your own life, and when time has past, your insight to the situation is enhanced. Think about your own adolescence and what your biggest issues were, what types of relationships and friendships you had, and how you felt about your family. Now that you’re older and a little wiser, you can probably figure out why certain dynamics were the way they were, why particular situations occurred, why others acted a particular way and why you reacted the way you did.

Going through this thought process will truly enrich your story, the depth of the characters involved, and the insight and emotions of the protagonist. Even when you’re writing science fiction and fantasy books or dystopian literature, you’ll still be able to give a realistic, and most importantly, a unique perspective for readers to both relate to and enjoy. Plus, it can be a very cathartic experience for writers to delve into their past to create a new version of their teenage memories.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trends in Young Adult Fantasy Novels


Young adult fantasy novels are one of the most consistently bestselling categories in the book world. The trends of what’s popular are constantly evolving, most likely because readers get more and more discerning with each new release. While series such as Twilight and Harry Potter set a precedent for paranormal romance novels, some readers seem to have grown tired of vampires and wizardry, though core fans of the genre will stay loyal to their love of magic.

During the past year, dystopian novels have surged in popularity. Is it the predictions of the 2012 apocalypse that readers are relating most to, or is it the strong, empowered characters that attract readers and reel them in? While yes, the Miami zombie news and Mayan prophecies incited a little bit of hysteria about the possibilities of an apocalypse this year, we’d like to think it’s the compelling protagonists that have increased the appeal of dystopian literature.

That idea actually makes the most sense because even when young adult fantasy novels are built upon storylines with paranormal elements, they’re still the ones readers are clamoring for the day they’re released.

Librarians all over the country report that the popularity of dystopian novels doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. While it seems that the fascination with an apocalypse may fuel the desire to read end of the world books, what sets the bestsellers and award winners apart is their combination of fantasy and real issues that are relevant to teen’s lives.

The best examples of this are the current bestsellers, many of which are considered some of the best fantasy novels of all time. For example, in The Hunger Games, Katniss deals with many coming-of-age issues alongside her struggle to survive. In Revealing Eden, Eden struggles with self-acceptance and self-image as she tries to outwit a government that classifies her as the lowest of the low and her mate-rate brands her nearly impossible to find a mate. Among paranormal romance novels, in Twilight, even though Bella is in love with a vampire, we can relate to how she feels when she first moves to a new town and how it can be difficult to understand young love. 

The best fantasy novels of today are those that combine the elements that are most relevant and on the forefront of society, which drive the content of many end of the world books, and those that allow you to fully understand and empathize with the protagonist. It makes sense that dystopian literature is leading the pack right now, but authors beware, the characters will always be the most important element of the story.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Young adult novels —bringing characters to life

Writing realistic characters in young adult novels can be challenging to do when you’re no longer between the ages of 12 and 17.  It’s important for those awkward adolescent years to be brought to life in an authentic way if you want your book to be a success. 

Whether you’re writing end of the world books or paranormal romance novels, there are a few key traits that your protagonists and other characters should possess—one of the most important is attitude. While characters may be extremely different from each other, especially when their story is based in settings as different as what you’d find in dystopian literature or a contemporary love story, some themes and issues will be common and recurring. They will evoke certain attitudes that will be similar across the board, such as rebelliousness, anger, frustration and insecurity. 

When writing these characters, you want to let the audience see them evolve and make mistakes from time to time. For an extreme example, the protagonist in a series of end of the world books may be focused on developing her combat skills so she can survive an apocalypse, but during the process may decide on whether she believes that others are potential enemies or allies. She may make a life-changing decision that goes against everything she ever believed in as a child.

A common behavior among protagonists in young adult novels is a struggle for self-awareness and identity. Young adults are coming-of-age and trying to learn who they are, what they like and dislike, what’s important to them and how they want to be perceived. As a result, they may try on different identities, looks and friends in a desire to experiment—they may be a red meat lover one day and the next decide they want to become a vegetarian. They may practice with a band for a year and then decide they don’t want to do anything with music anymore. They may think they know their stance on drugs and alcohol, and then may succumb to peer pressure in an unexpected situation.

While protagonists in dystopian literature may experiment with different personas just like any teenager would, they may also try on different political and spiritual attitudes that may not even be in the minds of real world teens. The possibilities are literally endless and offer an opportunity to really have your protagonist experience a significant and dramatic arc throughout the novel.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why write books for young adults?

There are several compelling reasons to write books for young adults. It’s a fresh, ever burgeoning genre that is easy to adapt to and lots of fun to write. Yet there are other reasons that motivate authors on deeper levels and often result in a sense of unparalleled fulfillment.

Besides the fact that the market is flourishing, many authors choose to write young adult novels because it gives them an opportunity to wield influence upon a demographic that is still impressionable. The adult market may enjoy everything from the classics and paranormal romance novels to science fiction and fantasy books, but their attitudes and beliefs are already formed and difficult to sway or affect.

Many of the teenagers who read young adult novels seek characters that they can relate to and an understanding of what they’re experiencing in life. They want to feel like others have experienced or are going through the same situations and experiences that they are. Books for young adults give readers the chance to live through the experience with the protagonist and see how they handle everything from drugs, peer pressure, sex and racism to surviving an apocalypse and saving the world. While the latter two situations are typically fodder for science fiction and fantasy books, when blended with the young adult genre, the protagonists will face issues common to young adults, despite their otherworldly settings.

Another common reason that authors write books for young adults is that it gives them a chance to rewrite their own teenage experiences. If prom sucked or teenage years were spent covered in acne and despair, an author can write a totally different experience and live vicariously through their protagonist. Someone who never dated during high school can write a series of paranormal romance novels where they live out their fantasy of dating the hottest guy in school and ending up happily ever after once they’ve overcome an array of supernatural obstacles. On the flip side, if high school was a breeze or possibly too normal, writers can raise their protagonist in a coven of witches or a castle in an imaginary land of demons and fairies.

The best young adult novels give readers hope by helping their characters go through their experiences and ultimately survive. While this is an amazing experience to be able to provide readers with, it also brings the responsibility to offer unbiased ideas and viewpoints.