Writing Young Adults Novels That Break the Age Barrier

January 25, 2018 at 7:30 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Society, Ways of Living, Writing, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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Here is a comment that was made on my blog post, Tori’s Book Review

I’m writing a book for YAs that might extend the age of readers into their early twenties. I could use some tips on YA writing. Any suggestions.  Christine

 

I’m not sure I can give Christine, or anyone for that matter, much in the way of tips on writing a book for young adults (say 14 to 30 and beyond). What I will do is write briefly about my own approach to writing them and hope that will help.

Like Christine, I want my book’s readership to extend beyond teenagers to adults of all ages. One way I try to do this is by being as real as I can be. My current novel, Thursday’s Child, deals with a couple of difficult issues, issues that have always been a part of growing up, of finding our place in society, and of dealing with the bad things that happen as well as the good..

For me, the characters are paramount. Readers are looking for characters they can identify with – even when they live in a different time, as mine do. Teens, and adults too, have similar desires, needs, hopes and ambitions for their lives, as well as similar obstacles to overcome to achieve them. Each person will see and approach them from their own perspective, but the basic issues remain: among these, are love and loss; fairness and tolerance; acceptance and understanding; freedom and equality to pursue one’s goals.

I don’t write comedy or fantasy or satire. I write about the world as it is, or as it was at the time of which I am writing. I find that a character and an issue come together for me and then I write that character’s story. All the characters begin to ‘speak to me’ in such a way that I can do that.

I think authenticity is of major importance in writing for anyone, not just young adults. You must be true to and honest with your characters, your themes and your future readers. For me, authenticity comes when I draw from my own knowledge, experience and understanding of the world and of people to create a person of flesh and blood and everything else that goes with it. I want that character to live an authentic life with authentic experiences. When I am writing, I am living my character, I am there and I bring (in this case) her into the reality of her world. I may not have experienced exactly what she goes through, but I have lived and observed life more than enough to be able to write it.

If, in our writing, we create real characters in real situations, with real problems they have to deal with and joys they can experience, then I think that book  we write, although primarily aimed at young adults, will resonate with older readers too.

My first novel, Ben’s Challenge, was written for twelve to sixteen-year-olds, but I have received many comments from readers of ten to ninety years of age about how much they loved it.

Christine, I hope you can get a similar response to your writing. It is possible, so go for it.

 

If you wish to purchase Thursday’s Child on Kindle, click here to pre-order. It will be available for download on the 1st of February. If you’d like to read Ben’s Challenge, click on the cover photo at the side.

 

© Linda Visman

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Keep Your World Real

February 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 1 Comment
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If-people-winked-in-real-life

In the real world, people and their inter-actions are not ruled by laws that say this, or that, must happen. Instead, we live in a world where anything is possible and most events can never be predicted with any certainty. We cannot even go with the balance of probabilities all of the time – although we hope that the odds will work out as we want them to.

 So it should really be the same when we create our stories, the characters and their worlds, and the interactions between them. We must make it all look real. The reader should expect the unexpected, and yet feel that the story has been worked out by Fate.

 However we cannot, in reality, toss all the ingredients together as we do with a salad, and then hope our story will somehow play itself out as we wish. We have to make it happen; there is nothing else for it.

 We must make it appear that events occur as they would in everyday life, that the uncertainties and the surprises we all experience are reflected authentically. We do this by the use of techniques and tricks, not by a random assemblage of characters and events in a certain setting. We, as writers, need to make ourselves aware of what these techniques are.

 As Robert Graves says, we have to tell lies to make our readers believe that the story we tell is true.

 The Devil’s Advice to Story-Tellers

Robert Graves

 Lest men suspect your tale to be untrue,

Keep probability—some say—in view.
But my advice to story-tellers is:
Weigh out no gross of probabilities,
Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of
Known instances of virtue, crime or love.

To forge a picture that will pass for true,
Do conscientiously what liars do—
Born liars, not the lesser sort that raid
The mouths of others for their stock-in-trade–
Assemble, first, all casual bits and scraps
That may shake down into a world perhaps;

People this world, by chance created so,
With random persons whom you do not know—
The teashop sort, or travellers in a train
Seen once, guessed idly at, not seen again;
Let the erratic course they steer surprise
Their own and your own and your readers’ eyes;

Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair)
Motive and end and moral in the air;
Nice contradiction between fact and fact
Will make the whole read human and exact

Robert von Ranke Graves novelist, poet, soldier & scholar

 Born 24 July 1895 Wimbledon, England

Died:  7 December 1985, Majorca, Spain

(c) Linda Visman

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