Guest Post on Writing YA
by Heather Christie
Matt Haig, author of The Humans, says, “There is only one genre in fiction, the genre is called a book.” I wish this were true when trying to sell a multi-generational book to a big publishing house. The storied literary New York City gatekeepers want books that fit into a clear genre boxes. When my novel, What The Valley Knows, was on submission, the feedback came back again and again, saying the writing was polished and fast-paced, but the book blurred the line between YA and adult fiction, and therefore would be too hard to sell for a debut author.
My intention was not to write a Young Adult novel. Instead, my book fell into the genre by accident. Initially, it was narrated from six points of view: four adults and two teenagers. Through the revision process, the storytellers narrowed to two teenagers (seventeen-year-old Molly and her boyfriend Wade) and one of the kid’s mothers (Molly’s mom Ann), making it more YA than anything else.
The irony is that my teenage beta readers love the mother’s point of view and my adult readers enjoy the kids’ perspective. My hope is readers will embrace this book as a good story and not care too much about which category label it wears. Nevertheless, should you be setting out on a the journey of writing your first YA novel, you’d be wise to consider the following parameters:
1. Make your main characters/narrators young adults. Keep the pesky grownup opinions off the page (excuse the pun).
2. And then create an easily accessible narrator, using either a first person or a close third person voice.
3. Keep the pace fast with lots of action. Think high concept, i.e. a summary you can pitch in a succinct premise. For example: The Fault In Our Stars—A dying girl falls in love with hot boy. They go on a trip. Have sex. In cruel twist of fate, boy dies while the girl lives.
Good luck! Happy writing. Please check out What The Valley Knows and let me know what genre you think it belongs in ☺!
What The Valley Knows
Publication date: January 25th 2018
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Millington Valley is a quintessential small Pennsylvania town: families go back generations. Football rules. Kids drink while adults look the other way. High school is a whirlwind of aspiration and rivalry, friendship and jealousy.
When smart and pretty Molly Hanover moves to town and attracts the attention of the football team’s hero, Wade Thornton—a nice guy with a bad drinking habit—longtime friendships are threatened and a popular cheerleader tries to turn the school against Molly.
The young couple’s future is shattered when Wade, drunk, wrecks his truck and Molly is thrown through the windshield. She wakes from a coma to find her beauty marred and her memory full of holes. As she struggles to heal, she becomes sure that something terrible happened before the accident. And there is somebody in the valley who doesn’t want her to remember.
Heather Christie grew up in rural Pennsylvania and, at age seventeen, took off for New York City in hopes of becoming a movie star. Flash forward several decades, a couple degrees, a bunch of cats, two kids and one husband later, she's back in Pennsylvania writing her heart out and chasing dreams again. She loves to read, run, drink tea, and make Sunday dinner. Follow her blog at www.HeatherChristieBooks.com and say “hello” on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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