A Professional Editor’s Tips On Writing Young Adult Novels
There are more young adult novels in the market than the intended audience could be bothered to read, and you obviously want your story to fall into this category.
So how do you ensure that your Pulitzer-worthy novel gets its rightful place on that bestseller rack? In the spirit of Christmas, we’ve decided to help you out with some tips—straight from our professional editor and proofreader, Sasha’s mouth!
Having combed through manuscript after manuscript of everything from wizards to vampires—including those with extra fetishes (if you know what I mean!)—she has a thing or two to tell you aspiring authors out there:
1) Think like an adult; write like a teen
This is crucial right from Day 1 since it’s going to basically shape your entire novel-writing process. Nothing needs to be dumbed down or simplified, but it still needs to be authentic enough for a teenager to read and relate with.
This probably deserves a blog of its own, since authors can (and usually do!) mess up more than one thing. Dialogues are the driving force of any novel, says Sasha, and need the most attention in a YA novel. So, keep it as catchy as you can! Additionally, keep an eye out for dialogue formatting (or you could ask us to—*winks*).
3) Maintaining time and space
More often than not, authors end up introducing flashbacks in the narrative or even skipping to a completely different time and space without any prequalification or explanation whatsoever. A reader should be able to tell exactly when and where the story is taking place, always!—exclaims Sasha.
4) Well-rounded characters
Aside from being relevant, your characters also need to have distinctive personalities. And it’s no good saying ‘She was a strong-minded woman’ when her actions or dialogues don’t reflect the same. Ensure that each character has an appropriate backstory and maintain that uniqueness throughout.
5) Narrative inconsistencies
Switching between character perspectives in a novel is something that YA authors have been dabbling in for a while now (Veronica Roth, Stephenie Meyer, Pittacus Lore, etc.). However, you’ll notice that the story doesn’t shift from Edward’s to Bella’s point of view without forewarning. On the same note, don’t switch from the first to third person perspective—it’s rather disorienting. Similarly, skipping between times or progressing the plot unnaturally also count as narrative inconsistencies that one must be highly wary of!
6) Keep away; trends ahead
If there is one more novel involving a tragic love triangle, some dystopian place where they segregate people based on random factors, or just some vampires/werewolves sparkling or whatever, we’ll cry. In fact, we already might have, considering just about how many there are! It’s hard, but try to come up with something original and watch how the authenticity of your story takes it to the bestseller list in no time!
7) Avoid repetitiveness
Sasha points this out as a multi-fold problem since repetition can occur in dialogue tags or even as character traits. For example:
“I’m hungry,” he said.
“I’m thirsty,” he said.
“We’re bored by what he’s saying now,” we said.
You could instead try using “he quipped”, “he groaned”, “he said with a chuckle”, and so on.
As for reinforcing character traits through repetition, there’s no need to keep saying “She was a strong-minded woman”. If you’re a good author, your writing style coupled with the dialogues and narrative assigned to the character will convey her strong-minded nature anyway!
8) Abrupt and inappropriate reactions
If someone were mad at you, their eyes wouldn’t resemble the embers of coal or be as red as a mad animal’s eyes. Trust me people have written things like this, says Sasha with a rueful smile. There’s nothing wrong with being a little dramatic or poetic with your writing, but it needs to be organic and just the slightest bit plausible.
For instance, if someone points a gun at you, it’s unlikely you’ll stand there and say, “Okay then!” You’ll freak out and run—just like your characters should be doing!
9) Keep it lit; keep it real
Lastly, but most importantly, just write from your heart instead of what you think you ought to be writing. Teenagers today have extremely sensitive BS detectors, and if you’re not careful, you’re going to end up triggering them! Write to excite; write to provoke thought; write for fun—and Sasha assures you your readers will have fun too.
Of course. Your novel will always be a step away from perfection if you skip editing and proofreading. It makes a world of a difference, and you should always remember to allot time in your schedule for the same. So if you need a professional editor, PaperTrue is always here to help you!
All the best, and do let us know how your tryst with Young Adult Novel writing goes!
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