Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A to Z - "Y" is for Young Adult (Write what I know?)

I like to read young adult/teen novels and would like to write these, since it is what I know. But is it really my forte?

Should you write what you know?

Yes. You should write what you know, especially if it's non-fiction. You are the expert.

In fiction, you should include things you are an expert on. Your hometown, the local flora and fauna, your favorite topics, random trivia, include these things in your book to teach readers something as well as add depth to your characters. Do you love chili? Maybe your character loves chili. Do you love bird watching? Maybe your character has an uncanny ability to identify birds or you can work some bird facts into your story. These kinds of details can add an extra layer to the story. Don't make it fluff, talking non-stop about the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies, but instead, use your knowledge to enhance a character or scene.

The genre of your book is up to you and your muse! Just because I like to read YA doesn't mean I can write it well enough to do it justice. I may be a better slice-of-life writer or fantasy writer than a mushy rom-com writer.

Also, if you are setting the story in a place you have never been, maybe you should go and get a real feel for it before writing about it. How a person feels about a place is as important as how it looks. If you can't go there, maybe your character only dreams about it, just like you, or maybe you change the world around the place so that it still feels 'real' but is not accurately so. Perhaps a futuristic Tokyo, or a cyberpunk Paris.

Write your real emotions into scenes. You know how it feels to be in their shoes, because you created their shoes! Your character's actions are either what you would do, or what you would not do. How does that decision to do one thing or another affect the outcome?

Then, write what you DON'T know. Use your imagination! Don't limit yourself to only what you know or what you want to take a trip and learn. You might not ever do it. Use your imagination, your research skills, and your talents to make readers experience the place. Let them feel what you would feel if you were there. Change just enough to suspend reality and put in the emotions that are distinctly human and so readers can relate to the story.

In answer, write both what you know and what you don't. Fill in the blanks with your creative talents. Stretch the story from the lies to meet the truth.

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