1. Fantasy Lover
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    Fantasy Lover New Member

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    YA Fantasy Novels

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Fantasy Lover, Mar 28, 2013.

    I was just reading another thread about how another writer here seems to be having the same problem as I am having, and someone replied, "If you want to market it to YA you need to have more exciting elements and less world building."
    It got me thinking....to those of you who are teens, and the like ;), what would be exciting to you in a fantasy world?
    What should be more and what should be less explored to you?
    What would you personally like?

    Let me know what you think.
     
  2. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    That sounds like my comment. What i meant by it is that nowadays young people don't like to read stories that need a log of thought to understand or a lot of backstory to remember. What they want is mostly epic romance for girls and homeric heroes for boys. Sure there are teens that will read George Orwell or Jules Verne for pleasure, but the majority prefer the equivalent of literary fast-food.
    So if you want to write YA fantasy for the masses, the safe way to go is a romance that transcends social casts (eg the princess and the squire, the king and the servant etc) with action and a strong-but-not-too-strong villain. Mostly cliche subplots.
     
  3. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I think this has always been the case, unfortunately. Possibly even more so back in the day, when people were less educated and thus simpler in taste. If anything because of the mass population, there would be more teens now-a-days that would be interested in reading in-depth, well built fantasy. But as far as getting published is concerned I cannot argue with a single word you just said.
     
  4. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I prefer to read books that have less back story information, and books that are not too simpler to other books. Just focus on characters with stuff that most young readers can relate to, and have to drive the action. Too much details can slow the reader down.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're seriously underestimating the YA audience - teenagers think, they think A LOT, in fact. Take Harry Potter - would you say there's "little" world-building in that? His Dark Materials is another very elaborate trilogy and the world-building in that one's superb. Hunger Games is also YA and it's got some of the most complex themes and realistic characters I've seen in a long long while. Would you say the world there is "shallow"?

    And all of these ones I've mentioned touch on extremely deep themes - Potter has a lot to do with death, His Dark Materials is about God and religion, and Hunger Games about justice and political oppression and the apathy of society today in the face of severe human suffering. Can you tell me any of these is "shallow" and falls in the category of "literary fast food"?

    My own novel is a YA and the themes are second chances, redemption, and desperation. About the evil that we see may not be what it seems and people are not as we think they are, but they're deeper than that. Are any of these "shallow"? Should I be afraid now, because they're not shallow, that I shall not be published? Rubbish. I would not write anything else. There would be no point in investing 2 years of my life to write about something I do not care about, just so I can keep it all very shallow. I do not want readers to read my work if my work was shallow - I would be far too embarrassed. Books should make people think and feel, and especially the minds of teenagers need to be nurtured so that they can grow up and become thinking, creative people. Entertainment and depth are not mutually exclusive.

    Don't patronise your audience - if you try, people will know, and even if you get published you'll know you haven't given your work your best shot. You do yourself, as a writer, a disservice. You do your writing a disservice.

    Write something that you're gonna fall in love with - if you the author does not or cannot fall in love with your own book, no one else is gonna. Write what you're gonna love, and you'll find someone else out there who'll love it just as much as you. But don't refrain from writing something because you fear no one will want it. You're a writer dammit - if you won't believe in your own work and believe that the world is gonna fall in love with what you've written, you're just setting yourself up for failure because you'd have given up long before an agent takes you.

    It's not that in YA you must do less world-building, but the way you write about it must be different. You can afford fewer large chunks of description, but if you write it well enough you'll be able to slip in just as much detail. It's in how you write about your world that's different between YA and adult novels, not in the depth of the world itself.
     
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  6. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    What you say is all cool and dandy, but not what the OP asked. What was asked was what teenagers like, not what they should like or could like. I have not read His Dark Materials so i don't have an opinion on it, but the Hunger Games series was a big pile of BS in more ways than i care to describe (almost as bad as I am number Four was), and Harry Potter didn't involve much world building as it was all based on already existing landmarks. If you take Hogwarts out of the equation it is all set in very real London locations. And creating a building does not world building constitute. Neither are the mechanics of magic explained or most other world building aspects for that matter. I will agree that the setting was nicely done but it was by no means a world building project.

    I never once suggested writing something shallow just to make more sales. What i said was that if what you want is a YA best seller, it should be neither very deep nor extensive in its world building.
     
  7. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I've only read four harry potter books. I sort of grew out of them, and got very bored. BUT, it was definitely world building. You need to remember that most of the books take place almost exclusively in that one building, so that is the world. Rowling created, items, spells, drinks, pubs and factions that do not exist in our world. All fantasy novels are based on the real world to an extent, otherwise we have no point of reference. I'd say you're taking the term 'world-building' too literally. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is based in our world, but they go through the cupboard, or whatever (I haven't read that either), and they enter the world... Harry and his parrot get on the train and they are in the other world.

    Also, magic can never be explained, otherwise it's not magic.

    EDIT: I just thought I'd add, X, that you've read wheel of time, yeah? Jordan brilliantly explains how magic works, so to speak. Tapping into the true source, and the male and female entity, and all that. But it's still not technically explained, not like you can explain how a sword works at least... Like why do the entities exist? They simply do, because that's his world.

    Despite the lack of depth, the principle is the same for Harry Potter.
     
  8. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Just stick to simple world building. If you have to explain everything, explain in separate scenes as your plot focus on the main theme.
     
  9. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    That lack of depth is precisely what i am talking about. I agree that there are young people nowadays that would love a novel's attention to detail and the consistency of an author's world building concept, but they are not the majority by far. What i was talking about was what most teens want, not what all of them want.
     
  10. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Then what do what most teenagers want?
     
  11. Mell
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    Mell Member

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    I'm 19, so I suppose I still count as YA.. The most helpful thing I can say is READ those YA books that get on the bestsellers list. Analyze what they do, what they have in common that makes them so popular, if popularity is what's so important.
    I'm not sure you can put it down to a majority of YA not wanting in-depth world building. Personally, I love it, and I know so many other people my age and younger do, also. But then, there are many that love what I'd consider awfully boring, poorly written and cliche. Write what you want to write. There's no point trying to just write what you're being told to write. Plenty of YA novels that don't make the bestsellers list still get published, you might just have to look harder for someone to take more of a risk, and it might pay off.
     
  12. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    As a YA myself I can shed a bit of light on the subject. Themes such as oppression, justice etc etc, that often feature in some books aren't immediately gripping to most of us. There are some, myself included, that will discover these themes and become so impressed with the book, but in terms of getting your novel off the shelves, it will matter very little if it deals with important social matters or does nothing of the sort. You have to consider the fact that many YAs will be enduring through English Literature classes, where they'll analyse books, plays and poems to death and not want to do the same in their free-time reading.

    World Development matters more, though is not the thing you should be considering most. As with pretty much and novel and any audience, a good background and setting helps you get into the story more but it's not so much crucial. It does largely depend on the novel though, and what setting you're in.

    What does matter, however, is character development. In my experience, most YAs latch onto characters and it's this that really sells the series for them. Well constructed, relatable characters are what really drives sales as well as those who leave some sort of impact, being through impressive deeds, humour or other means.
     
  13. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I think an argument can be made that the YA population, in general, are easier to please. Less complex settings and storylines are alright and can pass for good, and let's face it - we all like our fair share of a simple, fun story that just says "Hey, accept these facts as they are and role with it!" It's what much of sci-fi and fantasy (some of the more popular genres in YA today) are based around - to just accept the information that's being presented to you.

    However, I don't think that this means that, as writers, if writing for a YA audience, you can just skip the details. I don't think that "aiming for young adults" is synonymous with "don't worry about the details; just slap some romance on it and it'll work." You shouldn't base your writing off of what worked for someone else. Stephenie Meyer was lucky; she wrote a series in which the main character has no personality, and therefore can be every girl in the world, and set up standards that are unbelievable. She didn't need an amazing, well-developed plot. She didn't have to have characters that were unique and memorable. So, does that mean that, because it's a bestseller, Twilight should be the mold - the standard around which every YA novel should be written? Absolutely not.
     
  14. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I guess I can write a crappy story too and aim it at teenagers. It sounds like they are still learning how to read and they can't handle stories with complex stuff. But teen books can still be original and smart. I'm tire of the bestselling teen books being copy cats of Twilight and The Hunger Games.
     
  15. Darkhorse
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    Darkhorse Member

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    I reckon the thing is with YA success story is that they don't try to do too much. That way they can target the majority of the teen audience who, for the most part, are just progressing into reading as a hobby. There are a lot of teens who want world building, but they would have read from a much younger age, progressed through the dumbed down stuff. However, there are definitely far more teens who are more interested in a simple easy to read book, with a good hook and decent plot, than the other kind. My hope is that these teens if they stick with reading progress to more advanced stuff.

    Btw, I don't think there is anything wrong with the books that are currently popular amongst teens.
     
  16. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I agree with this 150%. I think you will notice - as I did, throughout high school and the beginning of college - that all those who read the Twilight series and loved them, when asked what other books they liked, either couldn't name any, or could only name other bestsellers. While teens who didn't read or who read and did not like the Twilight series could name other books they liked that were more obscure and whose titles I honestly can't remember. That's the difference here. The "bestsellers" are bestsellers amongst the entire teen population, not just the ones that read and develop more of a taste.

    But no, I don't think there's necessarily anything with (all of) the books that are currently popular in the YA department. I've read some very good ones.
     
  17. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Get cash 101: appeal to the lowest common denominator. Surely you'd rather sell one hundred million copies to morons, and be criticised, than hailed as a genius and sell 10.

    Paddling about in the pool of my three million dollar home, I wouldn't lend a single thought to whether my readership preferred Meyer or Orwell.
     
  18. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Well, personally, I write because I love it, and am not going to attempt to make a career out of it. Would I love it if I could be read by a huge group of people and if my books were bestsellers? Of course. Who wouldn't love that? But does that mean I'm willing to ditch quality for the sake of trying to make a book the masses would blindly love because they don't know any better? No. I'm not going to half-ass a novel in the hopes that I could be the next Meyer. I'm going to put everything that I've got into it and hope that a few people pick it up and read it.

    I'm not trying to be hailed as a genius; I'm sure I'm not going to be a classic author that people will be reading for generations. I'm not trying to portray some hidden message. But I am trying to write well and to develop my thoughts and ideas so that they're the best that I can make them. If my world is too over-developed for a couple of dim-witted sheep that don't want to take the time to think about what I'm writing, and for that reason I don't become rich and famous, than so be it. I'd rather work my ass off at my job and write what I love on the side than half-ass a couple of novels that may or may not pass a publishing house to become bestsellers.
     
  19. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I don't think Twilight was a half-assed novel. It's most likely the very best Meyer could do. People who do this invariably wind up with crap. I think it was Mathew Riley who said he test-read a poet's would-be-best-seller manuscript. He literally did just that, wrote what he thought people wanted, and the result was steaming pile of... The best you can do is all you can do.
     
  20. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I'm not saying it wasn't Meyer's best attempt. I'm saying that, just because she's a bestseller doesn't mean her under-develop, flat characters and weak plotline should be emulated and set as a standard for other YA writers.
     
  21. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I would laugh if the Twilight books will become part of high school class reading assignments for literature. Kids need to read smart books so they can become smart. Flat characters and predictable plots don't help a lot.
     
  22. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    While I'm not a teen I can definitely remember what I preferred to read back then. I didn't read very many YA novels because I felt a lot of them lacked the substance I wanted in a book. I read a lot more books that were geared toward adults because they had much more depth. I'm not saying all YA fiction was shallow it was just more difficult to find YA fiction that had what I was looking for in a book. I don't think you have to cram a ton of drama into a book or dumb it down to make it appealing to teens. Readers are definitely individual and everyone will probably want something different. Worry more about writing what you know and writing something that is compelling than catering to any particular group. :)
     
  23. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What are some things that YA books lack sometimes? Is it mostly the characters or the depth.

    When I read some YA books, I assume that I fully learn about there characters based on how much information I get. I never thought of what could be missing after I read the book.
     
  24. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    And yet you started what turned out to be a ten page thread saying that is what novels should be.
     
  25. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    That was a mistake.
     

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