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Girl with horse.

Girl with horse.
I was like this girl. Long ago. On an Arkansas Ozark mountain, far, far away.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Read 8 Young Adult Novels in 10 Days (And this is what I learned.)

Cheryl Lynn gave me a gift certificate for Tidal Wave books in our writing group's Christmas gift exchange. (The perfect gift for me, thanks Cheryl!) In fact, the gift certificate was almost lost entirely as it nearly burned its way out of my pocket before I could make it to the bookstore.

Some of the books I bought were YA books. I also went to the library and checked out an armload of YA books with the help of my daughter Autumn and the fantastic children's section librarian, Jane. I've read several in the past, but felt I needed to read some more in this genre, particularly ones that have been very popular in recent years, as I am plotting out a Middle Grade or Young Adult book now. So I read 8 books popular with teens and tweens in the last 10 days.

Things I discovered by reading so many YA books all at once:

1) There must be sidekicks who are also kids in YA books. To be used as: *foils, *someone who represents
     the hero's "conscience", *the 'other half' of the actual protagonist's soul, *to do the bad things the hero
     can't do, etc.

2) Adult sidekicks are too weird to be useful.

3) There is less layering and far fewer subplots. (I already knew about the subplots.).

4) Things my writing group might chastise me for (in the spirit of good, helpful critique only) crop up in 
     amazing abundance in YA books. The number one thing that caught my eye, and which most of us would
     criticize in a manuscript: children who seem to be too wise, too witty, too knowledgeable, or too cynical
     for someone of that age group. The number two thing I see is...adverbs.

Any thoughts on that?


  1. Hmmm, that's interesting.

    I can see why the children would be too wise, too witty, too adult. We want larger than life hero/heroines. Maybe it works the same with YA? And that these ficitional kids can do/say/act ways the real teens reading them wish they could? Maybe its a matter of putting themselves inside the witty/wise skin of the imaginary teen.

    But the adverbs? I don't know.

    Do you think Wallace is going to fit within this subgenre like you'd hoped.

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  3. Having problems posting a comment on my own blog!
    Wallace is going to fit into a younger than adult genre, however, my muse is sending it out darker than I intended. So unless I lighten it, the story will be YA and not Middle Grade as I intended.

  4. As a writer, who is also a teacher, my guess about the adverbs would be that writers/publishers of YA novels are mindful of the fact that children of that impressionable an age are also still learning about language and language constructs - such as the use/function of adverbs, etc.

    I know, when I'm selecting a text for study or inspiration; to use in a class lesson, I'll go for a text that has an abundance of such language constructs and one that is rich with (quoting from UK program of study) "interesting and ambitious vocabulary."

    Don't know if that helps at all.