1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Why a lot of good writing is happening in YA

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steerpike, Oct 29, 2013.

  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I appreciate the link, but I had a hard time sorting through all the fluff, perhaps because I could not relate to the author.

    This made sense to me, "unrelenting emphasis must be on character and event, and not the brilliance of the author’s viewpoint." But it seems it took him a dozen paragraphs and I'm having a hard time finding anything else in there.

    Any chance you could translate it for one (me) less articulate than another (you)?
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    What I understood is to write YA he had to dumb down his books and focus more on firsts and the excitement/stupidness of a teenager than on what would a smart and practical person do.

    The moral: write not for yourself but for your audience.
     
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  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Apparently this article wasn't dumbed down sufficiently. I'll give my take when I'm not on my phone.
     
  5. Michael Timothy
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    Michael Timothy Member

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    This is a great article. Personally, I believe that what the author says can really extend to any genre. Interesting stories do not come from characters making smart, practical decisions, and smart, practical decisions are not the exclusive domain of adults. Thinking in this way, that in all cases teen = dumb and adult = smart, really limits approaching a story, and it's what's led to the sharp divide between YA and "everything else," so to speak.

    I agree that a story featuring adult MCs is going to be tonally different, but I think the main point stands.
     
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  6. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Interesting... almost. I understood what the author was getting at (I hope), which is basically that writing YA taught him to take the focus off of himself and his ideas and more on the character arc and the action of the story. It taught him a bit about writing economy in that everything that goes into the story must do it's work. I agree with @GingerCoffee in that this article, though it is a blog, had an excess of fluff about his experience that I really didn't care for, and all he really said was that YA is successful now because it's less about the writer's pretensions and more about the character and story. In effect, he's implying that this should be the case of any genre. If I had to summarize the key take-aways, I would say they are:
    • Focus on characterization and action
    • Make every sentence do it's own work
    • Detach from the work so you can give your readers their experience
    • Different genres require different skills (voice, style, etc.)
     
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  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @Andrae Smith
    I think you're right.
     
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  8. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I really like this point and couldn't agree more!

    And Thanks @A.M.P. At least I know my Critical Reading class is paying off! (That may have been surface-level comprehension, but then this is not a crit. reading assign. :p)
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's a tad rude, hopefully not what you meant? By all means, wait 'til you have a full sized key board. Perhaps I was trying to be too polite, looking for something in the piece that I couldn't see and giving you the benefit of the doubt there was actually something there.

    I get it, write for your audience, but who doesn't know that? I didn't think that was the whole message.

    First the author says, "My natural book voice, apparently, is that of a 9-year-old." That doesn't sound like someone who needed to learn to dumb anything down.

    This paragraph, IMO, amounted to a different type of purple prose: ramble under the pretense you are actually saying something:
    I don't agree at all that the YA audience gives a rat's behind about locked braces, unless perhaps if you define YA as Juvenile, which this author has blurred more than once in the piece.

    Surely I'm not the only one who doesn't have a clue what this is supposed to mean: "...my editor didn’t cut for content. ... What he did was set pretension barometer twice as strict as adult fiction’s and started deleting every time the arrow ticked over."

    For an example of what that paragraph is supposed to mean we get, "I’d fight for precious phrases: “A teenage reader can understand ‘the curious uplift of dashed hopes.’" I wouldn't write like that for the YA audience, it's as purple prosey as it gets when writing YA.

    Going through the rest of the commentary, I get nothing else. Schrefer's claim he writes in a 9 yr old voice is inconsistent with the round about, trying to be clever, way he's written his thoughts on his editor's slicing of Schrefer's work.

    So if all this guy is saying, write for your audience, he didn't need all those rambling purple paragraphs of literary pretense to say so. Again, perhaps I was giving the OP the benefit of the doubt there was something else there.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    And with that, you have written a much better commentary, to the point and with something to say. It's no wonder I could not relate to what Schrefer had to say, it would never cross my mind to write like he apparently does in the first place.
     
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  11. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I don't think @Steerpike meant it that way. I think Steerpike meant that the author went a little overboard with this blog entry. The author should have kept it clean and clear to make his point.

    I'd say that is a worthy message for many new writer!

    I agree with the other specifics you point out! This guy should have toned it down and taken an opportunity to practice his editing skills. It wasn't too hard to understand, but personally didn't care for certain elements of the article.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  12. GingerCoffee
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    Thus the question mark. But I don't equate 'clear and concise' with dumbing anything down.
     
  13. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Yeah, I'm sorry. >.< I got a bad habit of trying to clarify things to hopefully assuage misunderstandings. I know you probably saw that too, (thus the question mark). :p
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    What I got from this is that YA fiction is not better or worse than adult fiction. It's just different. And you need to have a different mindset when writing YA. I can agree with that, though it applies to all writing.

    Also, as a YA writer, the fact that he's arguing for writing YA is expected.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    I don't mind that you get this guy and I don't so don't take this wrong, I'm just pointing out why the piece did nothing for me. I wouldn't have said more than that except I thought there must be something there I wasn't seeing.
    I don't put 'awkward embarrassed about a first kiss' in the YA genre, I would put that in about the age 12 and under genre. Shy, sure, less than confident, OK, but dorkily worried about locked braces, who would consider that YA in the first place? Maybe that's the problem, to me the 'adult' in YA does not say 12 or younger.

    I'm not sure how you can say that paragraph was straightforward. It took you 3 words. Like Andre, you are clear, Schrefer was not.

    All you need do is read the commentary. Like I noted above, it took you 3 words to say what it took Schrefer paragraphs of stuff to say. I don't mean the usual purple prose with forced adjectives, adverbs and clauses. I am talking about a version of it where one writes all kinds of junk phrases trying to sound creative and sophisticated and instead it
    comes out as clutter.

    The sentence was, " My natural book voice, apparently, is that of a 9-year-old." If that is the case it contradicts the need to dumb anything down, it says it was more dumbed down than he realized.

    So what did he say then that was more than, you need not be afraid of offending the YA audience but don't write anything too esoteric? Seems to me it could have been said in less that a paragraph.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There is a lot of good work going on in YA, and plenty of bad work, as elsewhere. I agree he is saying give the reader more credit, which is good advice across genres. Many writers don't follow it, especially when starting out.
     
  17. Steerpike
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If I might take this discussion in a different direction? I haven't read the article in question, but I have read through this entire thread, which seems to be about targetting your writing towards a specific age-group. In other words, writing so that age group will become interested, stick with the story to the end, and probably be eager to read (buy) more of what you produce?

    If you happen to know a teenager, it's probably more instinctive to just pretend that person is sitting in front of you, and you are telling them your story as you write it. I think you'll create the correct tone immediately. Visualise this person hanging on your every word. Instead of thinking : "What would a teenager like to hear?" just work with your 'real' teenager. How would they react to a statement like : the curious uplift of dashed hopes? (They might be more sophisticated than you think, by the way.) What do they want to happen to their favourite characters? How do they feel when you do 'bad' stuff to their favourite characters? What gets them excited? What bores the arse off them? Watch their faces, listen for their reactions.

    I had a curious experience using this technique. Because I used to tell stories all the time to my younger sister when we were children, when I wrote my adult novel I also pretended I was telling it to her—she was a great audience. When I got all finished writing my first draft, however, I couldn't quite put my finger on what was 'wrong' with the tone - until I realised I'd been 'telling' it to her as if she were still 9 or 10 years old! When I did my first complete edit, I pretended I was telling it to her as an adult instead, as she is now, and it was amazing how fast the tone lost its childishness.

    It's a strange technique, but it really works. (For fun, try telling the same story to your 80-year-old auntie, and see how it comes out differently. And it will...)
     
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  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I respect that you like the original. I like your Ginger version better. Hopefully that says something about my YA heart and mind. ;)
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    Now that link is worth the time it took to read it.
     
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is Harry Potter a typical YA adult book? If so, sorry, I see little intellectual merit for adults reading Y,A, just as I see little intellectual merit for adults watching Pixar or reality tv. Its just easy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  22. GingerCoffee
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    Not sure what you are basing "merit" on. Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games all appealed to a very wide age range that included the typical YA audience.

    Reality TV is in a different category and Pixar in a different category than that. So again, I don't know what you mean.
     
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  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Intellectual merit. Sorry for not clarifying. That's my bad. Will edit above
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    OK but I'm still confused by this post. How are you applying intellectual merit to the discussion of the YA genre?
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Literary snobbism in many forms is found on writing forums from time to time. Literary v. genre, this genre v. that genre, and so on. The point being made seems to be that if something is designated YA it can't have any intellectual merit that would warrant an adult to read it. Which is nonsense, of course, but I predict futile to argue against :)
     

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