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    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Wrapping a Novel

    So I’ve been out-of-sorts lately. In fact, I texted my husband yesterday and told him I was out-of-sorts. For the rest of the day, he texted me back, asking if I was “sort-of-in” yet.

    “Sort-of-in” is a great way to put it actually. When I was on the migraine meds I was sort-of-in a fog. I lost a week and a half chasing words around my brain, only to have them fly away whenever I got close.

    Finally I decided to take a break from the medication since it turns out I’m pretty miserable without my ability to catch words. Things have been better, and though I’ve had headaches ever since, none of them flared into migraines.

    I'm preparing for a conference next week, trying to assemble all the proper tools writers use to try to sell their work. One sheets, synopses, proposals, hooks and one lines. These tools can be tricky. On the one hand it’s vital that an author be able to convey in succinct fashion what her story is about. On the other, it’s hard to boil down a ninety thousand word novel into a paragraph.

    I’ve also done my homework, checking out agents and editors and what projects they're looking for. That prompted a brainstorming session with my personal novel doctor, my brother. Then yesterday, as I struggled to pull together the beginning threads of two story concepts, I realized why I’ve been so frustrated.

    I’m not creating. It’s like I’m wrapping a ceramic vase carefully in packing peanuts, the right-sized box, and the perfect wrapping paper that will say to the intended recipient, “I know how to make a package look pretty.” But I'd rather be sitting at the pottery wheel, my hands covered in clay, forming that vase.

    But I’ll get back to the creative process soon enough, and knowing that will get me through the polishing and presenting—the whole “I know how to use scissors, make a nice crease, and exercise restraint when it comes to tape” thing.

    But since I’m thinking about trying my hand at a YA novel, I wanted to ask a question of the women out there. If you’re twenty or older, what draws you to a young adult novel like The Hunger Games or Twilight? Since many YA titles cross generations, I think it’s reasonable to find out what readers my age expect from those titles. Is it the nostalgia of teen topics like first love? The freedom from the boring responsibilities of adult life? The possibility of a more unique adventure than you might find in adult fiction?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.


    Daphne said...

    I have thought about that question in relationship to those books a bit. What if Bella or Katniss had been older? What if they were in their early twenties instead of thier mid-teens? How would that have changed the books for me? Honestly, the fact that they were YA books was a hindrance. It made me hesitate before choosing them. It wasn't until they had enough popularity that I did, and even then I felt a bit like I shouldn't.

    I did want them to be older.

    It is the vulnerabily of "first real kiss" and "first epic love" (really there is nothing quite like it) in a YA that draws you in, I think. The fact that the main character is in a simular position to the reader - they are discovering the amazing story too.

    Linda B said...

    Well, I admit I haven't read Hunger Games, and I have absolutely zero interest in ever reading Twilight. But I write and read YA fiction I suppose first of all because I love teenagers. I love how smart and funny and daring they are. They aren't weighed down by regrets or fears and they throw themselves into situations that any sane adult will avoid. They're not afraid to make mistakes or to say what they think. Yet at the same time they're so vulnerable and so worried about criticism and about not fitting in or not being "cool" or not being noticed. I think we all relate to stories about teenagers because we've all been one. We remember what it was like--all the angst and the fun and the intensity of young love--and we don't mind revisiting those memories if it's someone else who's experiencing those things.

    Evangeline Denmark said...

    Daphne, I like what you said about the main character being in the same position as the reader. After all, readers of YA probably go to a story to experience something new and a teen protag is on the verge of discovering life. You have the feeling that those discoveries will be bigger and brighter in YA simply because the characters have not had a chance to live as much.
    Linda, I love how you describe teens. As I was reading your comment I was thinking, "Yes, that's it exactly." To me it seems that teens are more willing to go on a journey, make mistakes, and ask "What if?" than busy adults who are weighed down by years of baggage.
    Thanks for your thoughts, ladies!

    Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

    For me it's always the emotional connection with the character, especially if they deal with things I can relate to (more the self-esteem realm than the 'I'm-so-popular-I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-myself').


    Tiffany S said...

    Well, I love ANY kind of love story. I'm a sucker. But there is something about first love and how naive and pure it is. And teenagers do things that would make adults look incredibly stupid. Or at least the things they do (as written in books) is acceptable because they are teenagers. If they were grown women and men, I'd probably want to slap them. Also, I love Linda's comment about the angst of the teenage years. I wouldn't relive those years for anything. So I guess I get to relive them through books and try to imagine that they were differnt/better than they were!

    Anonymous said...

    I read young adult (and upper grade children's books) because I like a good story. Books for young people are usually very well written and focus on the action, not pages of introspection or sex.

    Beth K. Vogt said...

    E, can't wait for the conference, roomie!
    OK--that whole YA question? You know I read Twilight under protest,right? Because somehow I found myself saying, "OK, I'll read the blasted book!"
    So I don't read YA. Heck, I hardly read fiction at all because I'm writing and editing so much.
    So I'll go with the old "What they said" line.
    But I always, always read your blog.