1. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    Length of a YA Novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Elena Schmetterling, Jul 12, 2015.

    Just to be clear, I'm not asking about word counts. I'm asking how long a YA novel usually is in terms of days in the book.

    I've worked out the major scenes of the book, and when putting them together I'm just not sure whether a certain two/three fairly key scenes should happen on the same day, or they should be fairly separated. I'm worried that
    a) If they happen on the same day, the story will seem to move along too quickly.
    b) If they happen on different days, I'll need to add filler scenes of what happens say in the afternoon and evening (if the key scene happens in the morning or so) which will slow the book down.

    One possibility is a subplot. But I have no idea how I can incorporate one into my book so far, and with the book being in the POV of only the protagonist (and with no intention for this to change), I don't know how I'd pull it off. Are there any ways to solve this/dos anyone know the actual length in days of a YA novel?
     
  2. Topaztock
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    Topaztock Member

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    I'm writing something in the YA genre so I'm thinking about this a lot.

    The Spectacular Now, for example, takes place over months. We Were Liars takes place over years!

    For what I'm writing, I'm trying not to leave huge gaps, just because of the stream of consciousness narrative style. One thing that I have been thinking about is the moods that events leave people in and the contemplation everyone has in bed before they asleep. If there's a lot happening in one day, then you could make a point about that - The Worst Day Ever, type thing.

    For now I'd recommend picking the option that would get you to write now, and let yourself figure it out during the editing.

    :)
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't think there is any standard for this. The story should be over whatever timeframe fits the story.

    As for filling up the time, again it depends on the story. Skipping or filling hours in are both possibilities. I'm working on a short section of my book where something similar was a problem. The more I played with the scene, and thought about conflict I came up with things that happen during the time and I'm pleased with the addition to the story.
     
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  4. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Hi Elena
    This is a 'know your audience' decision really. YA are evolved readers so they can deal with events occurring in lengthier timescales. For example, the Harry Potter books cover a whole acedemic year without the need for padding to add a sense of time. Your decision then, on whether to condense into a day or stretch over days should, in my opinion, rely on whether the story is better over days, or over one day, rather than concerns of whether a YA audience will keep pace or switch off. If it seems better to you then it will to a YA audience who are more sophisticated than writers sometimes credit them.

    In all the YA fiction I've done I've realised that it is tone and sometimes content that you need to look out for, unless by YA your are looking at the young tip of the edge. And even then I've discovered that 10 to 11 year olds are sat at home reading Stephen King and Stephanie Myers!
     
  5. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tomorrow When the War Began, if memory serves, takes place over a couple of weeks, maybe up to a month. Each of the other books in the series seems to follow the same pattern. Altogether, the seven books cover (I think) about a year.
     
  6. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I think it's less a matter of how much time elapses and how much time feels like it passes. You can glaze over three months with a single line or you can spend a third of your story in one evening. The timeframe is dependent on the plot. How much time does your story need to take up?
     
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  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm befuddled. Why would you need to add filler scenes? There's no need to fill all the time that a novel covers--you can just jump to the next meaningful scene.
     
  8. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    Thanks, will see which bits need to occur faster and if others require more time in the novel.

    I'm just going to find it really uncomfortable writing something happening on one day, then skipping to the next day, then skipping to another day. Introducing each chapter would be a nightmare.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, I doubt that even one percent of novels avoid that sort of skipping. I'm not saying that it's impossible for yours to be the one exception, but I am saying that skipping fictional time is a skill worth acquiring.

    Introducing the new time can be as easy as

    Walking into school the next morning, Joe...

    Joe didn't find out he was wrong until American History that afternoon. The girl who sat in front of him...

    Joe tried to avoid his parents for the rest of the day, but his father caught him sneaking in the back door. "So where did you have dinner?"


    And so on.
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I haven't read a lot of recent Ya - I have a huge collection of 80's Ya. But I have yet to see an author filling in a day just to fill it in. Usually they do a scene, end it on the most important note ( it could be a conversation in a lunch room ) and start the next chapter where ever they need to. Usually with whatever information has been hinted at in the past chapter.
    Say two nerdy girls are arguing in lunch over who will ask out a football player. One dares the other one to do it the next day after the football game. Now why bother finishing out the day? Or showing her at home stewing. Why not start at the football game the next day where she can stew and be afraid and excited and have it more pertinent to the reader.
    Connect the scenes by logic and need. If it feels it's going to quickly add a small subplot or more dilemmas to make the goal harder to achieve.
    Subplots usually happen to other side characters. Not always but that's what I've noticed. Maybe give a side character a problem/goal that they can discuss and work through.
     
  11. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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    I was aware that of course you don't need to write every minute of every hour in a YA novel, however I've spotted the reason for my thinking so - when I looked over the plot I had, I felt things slowing down in the middle. There seemed to be assorted, clunky scenes, not really linking up - and this was because the beginning of the novel had passed far too quickly, and the middle was extremely slow in comparison (which was why I wanted to add scenes to "fill it up").

    I'm now working on getting the pace right.
     

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