Tag Archives: Contemporary YA

11.45: Elemental Issue, with Desiree Burch

For November, our elemental genre is “Issue,” and we were joined by actor, writer, and comedian Desiree Burch. The Elemental Issue is similar to the Elemental Idea, but the type of idea being explored is a point of social conflict, like racism, teen pregnancy, or corporate greed. Authors writing Elemental Issue stories raise questions for the readers.

We talk about how to go about writing these without sounding preachy, and without writing polemics.

Soundbite Moment: “The more specific a work gets, the more broadly it relates to other people.” —Desiree Burch

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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Read a magazine, ads and all, that is outside your personal cultural context, or realm of interests

Extreme Makeover, by Dan Wells, narrated by Brian Troxell

11.33: Crossover Fiction, with Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab, who also writes as V.E. Schwab, joined us in Phoenix to talk about crossover fiction—in this context the term means books that target a given demographic but which have a much broader appeal, or books which straddle the line between age demographics.

We discuss some good crossover examples, and how some of the boundaries work, and then we cover some of the techniques we use when writing crossover works.

 

Credits: this episode was recorded live at Phoenix Comic Con by Jeff Cools, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Write a story about a book that cannot be read until you are dead.

Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal, and also narrated by Mary

Writing Excuses 10.24: Hooking Younger Readers

We are often asked questions about the young reader markets, and while there are numerous professionals writing, editing, and publishing for that demographic, we haven’t yet had an in-depth discussion with someone who really has their finger on the actual pulse of a group of those readers: a school librarian.

Kiley Snyder, Media Specialist at Discovery Middle School in Indiana, joins us to talk about hooking younger readers. Five days a week she hands books to the very people for whom you’re trying to write (sometimes she even gets those books back from them.) We ask her about reluctant readers, about the common elements she sees in the books that hook her students, and about the power of shelving.

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You’re going to have to leave the house for this one: Visit a library, and tell a librarian three books you’ve loved. Then get a recommendation for something outside your regular genre. Then read it.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik, narrated by Julia Emelin

Writing Excuses 8.25: Middle Grade with E.J. Patten

Eric Patten joins us for a cast on Middle Grade fiction. His series, The Hunter Chronicles (Return to Exile and The Legend Thief have both been released) is delightful.

As Dan points out, there’s no faster way to start an argument among publishers, editors, and authors than to ask them to define “middle grade.” That said, Brandon’s definition is pretty helpful. Paraphrasing:

Middle Grade books are those which a school librarian gives to a child, rather than the child buying it for him or herself.

Nevertheless, we argue a bit about the fuzzy line between YA and Middle Grade, and we recount where we were getting our books at that age.

Eric talks to us about how he writes Middle Grade, and how it differs from writing YA, specifically with regard to the process of change. We cover some of the escapist elements, and how they differ between the age groups. We also talk about simplifying things without “dumbing them down.” Eric’s Return to Exile comes in at 115,000 words, which is more than twice what most Middle Grade books weigh in at.

Production Trivia: While this was not the last one recorded, this episode is the last one to air from our 2012 mega-session. Back in May of 2012 we recorded forty-plus episodes in the course of five days. Our hope is to never, never do that again…

Episode What Now? (Yes, yes… the number that Mary says at the beginning of this episode is not the one that this episode actually uses. Producer Jordo and byline-writer Howard disagreed on the episode order, and Howard neglected to tell Jordo that he’d made a snap decision while wielding admin access…)

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Write a Middle Grade book with a four-year-old protagonist.

The Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan, narrated by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren

Writing Excuses 7.42: Contemporary YA Fiction

Debut author Janci Patterson joins us to talk about contemporary young adult fiction. Her first book, Chasing the Skip, hit the streets October 2nd, 2012, and while Janci writes fantasy, this tale has no fantastic elements in it. Apparently bounty-hunting is plenty exciting without adding magic.

We talk about the genre, the research Janci did, and some of the essentials of a good character drama. We also discuss how Janci starts with the pitch before outlining, let alone writing drafts, and how this process has helped her write books that are easier to sell to agents and editors.

Finally, Janci talks to us about breaking in, and why she took the path she did.

Audiobook Freebie! Legion, by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Oliver Wyman

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Pick a place where teenagers are not typically allowed, and put a teenager in that place.

Chasing the Skip, by Janci Patterson. It’s not currently available as of October 14th, but it’s coming real soon.