As part of her book launch blog tour to celebrate the July 26 release of the second book in her “The Inhuman Chronicles” series, Untold Promise, Caitlin Hensley graciously volunteered to take the reins and talk a bit about her genre, Young Adult, or YA. And now, I’ll get out of her way!
So, You Want to Be A YA Author?
by Caitlin Hensley
YA fiction was originally designed for teens ages 12 to 18. It was supposed to fit neatly in between books for tweens and books for adults. But it didn’t exactly work out that way.
These days, a lot of adults out there love reading YA, and the genre only seems to be increasing in popularity as time goes on. That’s great, but at the same time means that as a writer, you have to be careful with your book. Even if you know adults might read it, you’re not writing for adults. Writing YA means you’re writing for teens, and you have to keep this in mind.
Here are 7 tips to remember when writing YA:
1. The life of your story depends on your ability to convince the readers that you’re one of them. The majority of books for teens are written by adults, and sometimes adults think they’re “hip” and “cool,” but they’re really not. Teens despise fakes, and if they think your characters and story don’t sound young enough, they’ll put your book down.
2. Description is great, but it shouldn’t get too heavy. Too many reports about flowers and trees can suffocate the reader. Use just enough description to show the world your characters live in, but leave room for the readers to imagine things on their own.
3. The pacing of a YA book needs to be fast. Have too many slow moments, and you risk losing the attention of your audience.
4. Avoid using the latest slang, because that can date a book, and make people ten years down the road laugh instead of enjoying your story.
5. This really goes for all novels, but don’t use long, antiquated words that no one knows. People (not just teens) like to read without having to run to a dictionary and look up a word every two seconds.
6. Whatever else you do, don’t preach to your characters or your readers. Teens have a radar for this, and they don’t want you to try to force your opinions on them through your book. Also watch out for adult characters who are overly controlling; they should be used moderately, maybe in the form of a mentor.
7. To overcome the age barrier, keep up with the news, imagining situations from a teen’s perspective. Listen to conversations at the mall, get on Facebook, watch TV shows featuring adolescents, glance through teen magazines, and read YA books by other authors.
I hope these tips have helped. And remember, above all, to have fun while you write! 🙂
Caitlin Hensley has been telling stories since she learned to hold a pen, and is pretty much obsessed with writing. She’s the author of The Inhuman Chronicles, as well as the novelette Together Alone. When not typing frantically on her laptop, she’s usually dancing, catching up on reruns of her favorite TV shows, or getting lost in a great book. She lives with her family and a slightly nutty Chihuahua in rural Oklahoma, where she often stands outside watching the clouds for signs of tornadoes that might veer her way.