12.29.2010

Why I Write for Young Adults

Today is my birthday, *throws confetti* so I thought that, instead of a typical “Julie post” centering on a specific writing technique, I would post something a bit more philosophical, addressing why I write Young Adult fiction. My birthday seemed a proper occasion to discuss the reasons why a writer who has moved beyond her own “young adulthood” might continue to write about characters in their teens. Tucked in with my “reasons why” are a few “reasons why not.” In other words, YA isn’t for everyone. In explaining why I continue to write for young adults, maybe I can help other writers see why YA might be right – or wrong – for them.

Reason #1 – Teen Protagonists Rock

Why are teen protagonists so fabulous? I could list dozens of reasons, but here are my favorite characteristics of teens, in no particular order:

  • They are still discovering who they are. They can do something incredible and not seem to be acting out of character, or be going against everything that has defined them for the past ten years.
  • They aren’t jaded yet. They may think they are, but their ideas are still flexible. Compare your favorite teen hero to his or her parent to see what I mean. Katniss did things in THE HUNGER GAMES that her mother could never have done. Well, maybe her mother could have done those things, before she’d been broken by life. In other words, back when she, herself, was a teenager.
  • Teenagers are resilient. Their young bodies bounce back. If Haymitch survived some of the physical challenges Katniss survived, the writer might lose some credibility. Imagine Dumbledore in Harry’s place and I’m sure you can see what I mean.
  • One of the universal truths of humanity is that we all started out young and na├»ve. We all were children once. We all were teenagers. The experience of seeing the world through young eyes is universal.
Read the rest of the post on my group blog, Let the Words Flow, here.

12.24.2010

One More Christmas Song!

My husband wrote this song years ago at the request of our son's elementary school music teacher. She knew that Gary was a singer/songwriter, and she was looking for an original tune for the kids to sing at the holiday concert. We finally got it posted on youtube this morning, so I thought I would share it with you all. HAPPY HOLIDAYS to your families from mine. :)

Holiday Song Parody - Let Us Write!

Happy Holidays, Guys! I had to share this with all of you. This little parody of a famous holiday song was written for all of us writers by Savannah J. Foley and sung by Susan Dennard, two of my terrific colleagues at Let the Words Flow. Enjoy!

12.20.2010

Point of View - First Person, Third Person, or Objective?

There are few decisions a writer can make that will have a stronger influence on their story than the choice of point of view. The point of view (POV) from which a story is told answers more than the simple question, “Who tells the story?” It determines “How much is the narrator allowed to know?” and “To what extent can the narrator perceive the characters’ thoughts and emotions and share them with the reader?”

There are four basic choices when it comes to POV:

1.) Third person omniscient

2.) Third person limited

3.) First person

4.) Objective

THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT may appear to a writer as the simplest means of telling a story, because the reader can know the thoughts of all the characters and therefore the writer can take the reader to any scene in the story and reveal as much – or as little – of the story as needed. Unlike third person limited or first person, the writer isn’t tied to what a single character sees or experiences.

Here’s an example of a scene from the classic story Hansel and Gretel told in third person omniscient POV. Italics are used to show the places the narrator conveys knowledge of a character’s thoughts or feelings:

“Hansel walked ahead of Gretel; after all, he knew he belonged in the front because Gretel was just a girl. Gretel dropped breadcrumbs behind her as she went, knowing that her bumbling brother couldn’t be counted on to find his way home from the outhouse, let alone from the middle of the woods.

Ahead of them, an old witch waited, her stomach rumbling at the thought of what a delicious dinner the two plump children would make.

Read the rest of this post on my group blog, Let the Words Flow, by clicking here.

12.07.2010

On Making Time to Write

You may have noticed that I haven't posted on this blog since before Thanksgiving. I have had a myriad of obligations keeping me away - I was sick, there was the holiday, I got very busy with some freelance editing work, and I was asked by my agent for some revisions to a manuscript.

But through it all - sickness, editing, revisions - I still spent SOME time every day writing. Yes, revisions count as writing, but in this case, since I'd already started a new work-in-progress, I felt that I needed to keep working steadily on that draft. So as I pondered this neglected blog, I realized a perfect topic for a post would be how to make time for writing when you can't seem to make time for anything else.

(This will be a short post; as you know, I SWAMPED!)

1.) Decide that your "writing career" is your first priority. This may sound like an impossible dream, and if you make sure the laundry hamper is never overflowing or that every PTA meeting is attended, then, yes, it will be an impossible dream. I use the word "priority" because priorities are our own choices. Granted, that day job that expects your attendance isn't a negotiable priority, but the laundry, the dusting, the PTA meetings - they all need to be weighed against your need to write. Sometimes, you just have to let the hamper overflow for one more day. That's a decision you are entitled to make, because you are a writer.

2.) Make sure that your family understands that writers can't spend all their time in the kitchen or the family room. This is one of the toughest ones for me to follow. When my husband comes home, sometimes he wants to watch TV. (Shocking, I know!) Depending on the program, in some cases he'll watch with the set on "mute" so I can work. Other times, I pick up the laptop and retreat to the bedroom to work. Does this make me feel like a bad wife? Sometimes it does. Sometimes I think I should be more attentive to my spouse. But when my son has homework to do, I don't feel "neglected" because he retreats to his bedroom to get away from the TV. After all, homework is a priority. So is my writing.

3.) Learn to work in short bursts. Every one of us would love to have eight uninterrupted hours to spend getting that problematic chapter just right. Unfortunately, sometimes thirty minutes is all you can steal from the day. One way to get the most out of that thirty minutes is to think about your writing even when you are not actually writing. That way you don't spend the first half of your thirty minutes figuring out where you left off. Keep your novel in your head. Work through that plot twist while you fill the dishwasher. Then, head to the computer, and get a full thirty minutes of meaningful work done. It may not seem like much, but you have moved the manuscript forward.

What methods do you use to carve out a piece of your life to write? Please share them in the comments!