Why pace is important
The young adult has the dopamine charged brain that leads to greater risk-taking. The adolescent is also under a good deal of pressure. They are dealing with study, new relationships and par-time work. Anything written for them must get to the point quickly.
Some of the risks we encounter
• Facing uncomfortable truths
• Laying self open to criticism
• Doing something you’ve never done before
• Holocaust risks
• Talking to someone you’re shy about
Risk-taking (of their own making)
• Gemma in Libby Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty – playing with magic.
• Lyra in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – always brave
• The relatively naïve girls in Judy Waite’s Game Girls become prostitutes
• Chamus in Oisin McGann’s The Gods and Their Machines flies aeroplanes and becomes an important pivot between three warring factions.
Danger imposed upon them
• Mrs Coulter / The Church in Pullman
• Snake right at beginning in Bray
• External war in McGann
• Aggressive man - potential for STD in Waite
Relationships between plots
This allows for another problem to gain momentum while one is solved.
E.g. Harry Potter: -
• Harry’s longing for home
• Harry being different from others
• Harry and magic
• Harry and friends
• Harry and other enemies
• Harry and Snape
A more subtle version
In Deborah Savage’s Kotuku:
The protagonist Charlotte comes to terms with who she is. She also:
• Finds the love of her life
• Understands some of the mythology that builds who she is
• Comes to terms with her friend’s death.
There is often something really huge at stake e.g. a relationship with the super natural, a strained relationship with a close family member, the need to save the world, an extremely risky life style.
Car chase moments
The “car chase” moment usually comes as part of the climax. There is often some sort of journey at this point in a YA novel.
Often a very immediate first person narrative is used. The present tense can also give more closeness. This is often the voice of a young adult a telling a best mate what is actually happening without overanalysing it. Thus the reader shares the growth.
And suddenly moments
• Twists and turns
• Cliff hangers
• Short sentences
• Short chapters
Look at how a YA book of your choice achieves pace.
Write two or three scenes of your work in progress showing a fast pace.