1. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    Writing for young audiences

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sophia_esteed, May 1, 2011.

    Not thinking of writing for young children.
    More interested in writing for teens and young adults.
    Thought I would model my books on the books I've read for teens and young adults, but when I sent the work to the publishers, they told me it wasn't fit for publication into their catalogues.
    So I guess there were problems either with my writing style, or about the themes I mentioned or the way I treated them or because it was too long...
    Anyway, if I'm planning of writing for teens and young adults, what should I watch out for, and from where should I start to research from? Style, language, themes, lenght, taboo arguments...? :confused:
    This is just to get me started, to get the generel idea.
    I'm also planning on reading how-to books on the subject.
     
  2. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    I know that the length should be between 60,000 and 80,000 words long. No longer. There are exceptions though but they are usually written by established writers.

    I'm not sure on content though. I would read, read, read as many books as you can from the YA category.

    Did you ask for the reasons why your manuscript wasn't suitable? They should give you a reason and some advice if you ask.
     
  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    There may have been problems that you would've had if you wrote for adults (e.g. plot, structure, characterisation etc.) in your novel which is why it was turned away, but I don't know. If you haven't already, I'd get someone else who can be critical on it (you could even ask someone in the teen/YA age group) and get their opinion on it. It may help you.

    Anyway, read as much teen/YA fiction as you can. What makes them popular? How are they appealing to the teen/YA audience? Analyse them and find out about the styles and themes, and how they deal with them. Think about what teens/YA do, what they like, dislike, what troubles them. This will help with a theme such as identity, first times etc. You can't swear (I think) and you have to be careful with things like knives, guns, sex etc.
     
  4. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    Just wondering, did you have any beta readers for your manuscript?

    It took me a year to edit and rewrite parts of my novel after my beta readers pointed out stuff I rejected at first, but then sank in.

    Now, I have a complete manuscript which I have polished to the best of my abilities with not one single word I can find needing to be changed. My beta readers also agree.


    Also, sometimes the problem lies in the query letter/synopsis. Unless you are confident in your writing to create a near perfect query letter/synopsis, you must have someone to read them over to get an unbiased opinion if they are good or not.
     
  5. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    @JMTweedie: Did you ask for the reasons why your manuscript wasn't suitable?
    No. They're very big publishers in my country, so I can't write them back.
    But thank you for pointing out the number of words. I didn't know the lenght.
    And I guess my work is a lot longer, being more than 100.000 words long.
    @tonten: Just wondering, did you have any beta readers for your manuscript?
    I did have a friend of mine who read it for me as I was writing it, but we're both unpublished writers, so it's likely what made sense for us back then might seem problematic in the eyes of more professional readers.
    @Eunoia. I'll look into the things you pointed out for me. Thank you.
     
  6. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    House of Night is a YA novel and at one point their was a page of F-bombs and S-bombs lol
    It depends what end of YA market you're writing for. Preteens 11-13 or Teenagers and young adults 14-19 (me thinks)
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    On one hand, you don't want a 10-page-long graphic sex scene in a YA, but you don't have to avoid it alltogether, either. For sex in a YA book, if it's crucial to the plot (date rape, pregnancy or other sex related themes YA people deal with), make it between a paragraph and a page, and try to imply when you can.

    On the other hand, don't sugercoat it. Don't make things cheesy and unrealistic to the point where hardcore gang thugs say things like "Aw, shucks" and "Oh heavens" when things go wrong.

    Also, make your dialogue is realistic. Other details are important too, but dialogue especially. Spend some time in places like malls and movie theater lobbies to listen to the way teens talk. (In a non-stalker way.)
     
  8. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    I was thinking I would try the 14-19 market. Genres like sci-fi/fantasy.
    I'm not thinking of inserting sex scenes, but what about romanticism?
    I mean, things like a boy dating a girl, going out together, kissing (in a romantic way), and then at the end of the book maybe showing them as grown-ups with a family, pretty much like JK Rowling did in the Seventh Harry Potter where we see Harry and Jinny taking their children to platform 9 and 3/4 for their first trip to Hogwarts.
    Other things I might need to insert if I'm writing sci-fi/fantasy are wars and battles.
    In how much wealth of detail can I write? How do I deal with violence?
    I wouldn't want to be explicit, but also not to the point they're fighting and it isn't spilled even a drop of blood. Also, I'd need my characters get wounded if it's crucial to the plot.
    I read some fantasy/sci-fi YA novels which deal with war/battles and I know you can insert them, and your characters can get wounded, but I'm unsure just how much I can go into detail while writing such scenes.
    Some book I read were really detailed, but is there a point I shouldn't hit while writing a YA novel?
    Another aspect I'm struggling with is plot. For the most part the YA books I read had a pretty simple, straightforward, linear plot. So, does that mean I must be careful not to complicate the plot too much? Not to insert too many characters? And what about flashbacks and flashforwards?
    I'd say these are pretty much the problems I've encountered so far.
     
  9. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Lemme try answer some of your questions as a teenager myself...
    Yeah that's okay, but if your characters are teenagers, getting to that stage is going to tough as teens usually got through breakups and fights..
    You can include blood, maybe slightly mentioning it but I don't think I would want a detailed description on how the muscle was disfigured and there was fungi growing on it :p...yeah you get the point.
    14-19 year olds aren't dumb lol, we can handle a complicated plot and a lot of characters, if done well. Flashbacks, maybe scene break then do it? Other members will probably suggest better, but does it really have to be flash back? Why can't the past of the characters be weaved in?
    Never heard of flash forwards, unless you mean time skips? I usually time skip with scene breaks/chapter breaks.

    I hope that helped.
     
  10. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    hmmmm....I too was wondering the same things in my writing....thanks for asking...and thanks for all the answers, it answered most of them anyways:)
     
  11. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    Thank you. Your answer is really detailed, it'll help me a lot.
    I too wasn't thinking of inserting anything too crude when writing about war/battles/wounds, but I was wondering if I could use a little blood.
    Flashbacks, I would use them only a little, to take a sneak peak on the past of major characters without having to take a long detour building it up into the main story.
    As for flash forward, I was thinking of an effect like opening the book maybe with a scene that'll come much later in the book, like in those movies and serials where you're shown the character experiencing something very dramatic and then you're taken back in time to be told how the story unfolded up to that point (like in Alias, MI:3, some episodes of Supernatural...). But that isn't necessary, I was just wondering.
     

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