It was suggested to me some time ago that if I’m going to write YA fantasy I need to read it as well. I must admit that I love to read a variety of genres but YA isn’t necessarily my first choice. So why write YA? Because the characters that come to me seem to always be between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Also, I love writing about that time of life before we all get a little bit corrupted and jaded by experiences. However, I promised myself in the new year that I’d delve in and I have done just that. I’ve read several novels that are popular now or have been in the last few years and have discovered a few things.
- Not giving enough information before the dark moment (that’s three quarters of the way through the novel) is not only frustrating, but makes the ending feel rushed and the reader left with the impression that the story should have started at that moment.
Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it needs to be done at all. With the fantasy genre it seems anything goes these days and a lot of it is interesting and exciting to read. But if you find yourself with a quizzical look on your face at the end of the book and wondering what was the point, perhaps it shouldn’t have been published in the first place.
Don’t hint at the ending as a plot twist. I just finished a book where the character said in the first chapter that she had a dream which meant she was going to die.(This was her power – interrupting dreams) Though this turned out to be a twist in the end, to be honest I really lost interest in the story right away. I mean, why would I read a story and get attached to the main character if I think he/she is going to die in the end. I had to force myself to finish reading the story and finish two other stories before I found myself at the end that book. Though the twist was interesting it didn’t engage me right away and if I wasn’t committed to reading more YA fantasy I would have put it back on the shelf and walked away.
Build strong characters. There is nothing more exciting then being swept away by a rich, deep main character that take you for a roller coaster ride though their experiences. You want to love, hate and admire everything they do, and hold out the hope that they will survive at all cost and make it to the end.
Stay focused. Nothing is more annoying then a character going in one direction and taking you along with them, then out of nowhere there is a huge shift that becomes the focus. It’s as though the writer woke up one morning and realised they hadn’t made there point yet, so they’re going to bombard you with the theme they really want even if it seems to skew the plot and character arches in order to achieve it.
There are amazing stories for young adults out there, though it’s a hit and miss as I’m discovering. I think the best thing to do is start a story and if it seems to not be your taste, put it down and start something new. Life’s too short to waste on something you aren’t enjoying, even if it seems everyone else is.