Studying Up on YA Fiction

I’m narrowing down my focus for my next project: writing a novel.

What I’d like to do is write a young adult novel. I don’t think young adult novels are any easier to write than novels for adults. But somehow, in my mind, writing a young adult novel feels more straightforward. I think that perhaps the concept of writing a non-YA novel is tied up in my mind with obligations to try experimental forms of plotting. Whenever I try this in my short stories, readers wind up confused and unsatisfied.

YA seems to be everywhere these past few weeks. The July 2012 issue of Locus Magazine has a feature on young adult fiction with articles from writers and editors. And I ran across an excellent YA writer blog after looking at the list of writers accepted to this year’s Launchpad Astronomy Workshop

One of the best resources I’ve found is distraction no. 99, the blog of Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls. She’s been keeping the blog since 2006, and it is really interesting to look back at her earlier posts where she’s feeling those writerly doubts everyone has and then to look at her more recent posts and see the books she has published, the residencies and workshops she’s participating in.

I know that every published author was once an unpublished author, that they probably all felt doubt and uncertainty. But sometimes looking at a published author, it seems as if they were always successful. Awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant when they were two, and at four a fellowship to Yaddo. So it is extremely helpful for me to see the arc of a writer’s career. To hear the voice before, and not just the voice that’s buoyed by their hard earned success.

But it’s more than just the scope of Suma’s blog that I find helpful. She also has a wealth of great posts. Two of my favorites are:

She also hosts tons of really excellent guest posts on her blog from other YA authors. My favorite so far is the “Turning Point” series, where authors describe what set them in motion on the path to becoming published. There’s also a series on “What Scares You?” and “What Inspires You?”

I’ve checked out a few books from the public library on writing fiction for young adults, but so far they’re uninspiring and geared towards complete novices. I feel like I’m getting so much more helpful and timely information from Suma’s blog than there even exists in book form. I hope she keeps blogging for a long time, and that the archives of her journal stay online if she ever decides to stop.

Do you have any suggestions for great online or print resources for writing young adult fiction? What YA books should I absolutely read?

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4 thoughts on “Studying Up on YA Fiction

  1. Ashley Cowger says:

    Have you read the Weetzie Bat books by Francesca Lia Block? They're collected together in a book called Dangerous Angels–highly recommended YA. They're very strange, but awesome strange. I really think you'd like them. I also recommend A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle (the author of The Last Unicorn). I'm not sure if A Fine and Private Place is technically YA, but it has a YA feel to it for me, and it's AMAZING.

  2. Jenni Moody says:

    Thank you for the recommendations! I haven't read either of those, even though I bought A Fine and Private Place after seeing Peter S. Beagle at DragonCon many years ago. I'm going to put it next on my reading que – you've got me excited to read it! 🙂

  3. gothougeekly says:

    I've really tried over the years to read YA fiction, but I've ultimately decided it's not for me. I see a lot of stuff that's either dystopian — think Hunger Games or Divergent — and/or so full of angst that I get bored — think Twilight. Not that those are the only choices, but I did the whole terribly-significant-relationship thing as a teen and don't feel the need to revisit it in every book I read.

  4. Jenni Moody says:

    I bounce off of some YA fiction for the same reasons. I think that there's a movement within the YA community to have more stories that don't feature romance. The July 2012 issue of Locus Magazine has a feature on YA Fiction, and I really liked this observation by Sharyn November: “we also need more female leads with true agency – yes, first love is a keystone, and love triangles are a perennial, but sometimes the most intense love of all is a person and his or her particular passion, be it career, art, or physical activity.”

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