Tuesday 18 June 2019

Other characteristics of the Young Adult Novel

The author relinquishes control.  The reader decides.
There tends to be no “happily ever after”.
The novels are multi-genred and multi-themed.
If you call the genres and themes “traits”, YA novels tend to have more traits than novels written for adults and than those written for children.


What endings often look like in YA

There will be some sort of stasis.
The protagonist has usually grown.
There will be a future with a lot of possibilities.
The ending is often open to interpretation or simply open-ended.
It will often be upbeat.
The reader has control over deciding what has actually happened.  


Possibilities at the end of stories

         Malcom Rose: Jordon Stryker Bionic Agent  -  Will the bionic parts of him be enhanced?  Will this mean the even more demands will be made of him? There are many possibilities. 

         Tabitha Suzuma A Voice in the Distance Flynn lets Jennah go. They may get back together again.  

         Rich Wallace’s Restless Story of a ghost.  He realises he will reincarnate again. We are less sure of what will happen to his little brother. 

 Mystery within texts

         David Almond’s Skellig No one is sure what Skellig actually is.
         Sara Grant Dark Parties Throughout we’re not sure what the Protectopshere actually is.
         Beverley Birch’s Rift The whole text is imbued with a sense of mystery.
         Teri Terry Slated From the outset in this book the reader has to ponder what is the actual meaning of being “slated”.


Examples of genres

     historical fiction
     the paranormal
     science fiction
     science fantasy


Examples of themes

         global issues (cloning, nuclear war, climate change for example)
         near futures
         inclusion issues
         peer pressure
         risk taking


Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate Wars (first published 1974)

     One genre: real life

     Six themes: putting the world right, peer pressure, relationships, sexuality, religion, risk-taking     

     Seven traits     

Gillian Cross Phoning a Dead Man (2001)
     Two genres: thriller, Bildungsroman (in ordinary sense as well as specific young adult type)
     Five themes: relationships, risk-taking, otherness, exotic, disability
     Seven traits  


Paul Dowswell’s Eleven Eleven (2013)

     Three genres: Bildungsroman, thriller, war

     Five themes: identity, otherness, peer pressure, risk-taking, romance

     Eight traits              


Creative Writing Exercise

Revisit the final scene of your novel.  Have you made it as open-ended as possible? Consider the following:
  • ·          Can you be a little less explicit and only hint at the outcome rather than describing it exactly?
  •          Think about how the story is going to carry on.  Which questions can you leave for your readers?
  •          Do you need to include some sort of epilogue so that a follow-on story can be created?
  •          Make sure your ending is not “happy ever after” but has hope in it.

Extra Exercises

Reworking other scenes

Look at some of the scenes you have already created. Consider the following.
·         Can you create a cliff-hanger at the end of each scene?
·         Can you leave some mystery for the reader to solve?  You may know the answer to the implied questions mentioned above. After all, you have worked hard to create the characters and the setting.  However, this works a little better sometimes if even you don’t know.  So now, can you let your characters and your setting  go a little? Can you allow them to keep something from you?
·         Can you contrast your mysterious scenes with some more grounded, realistic scenes? Consider what Birch does in Rift. This will enhance the perception of mystery in the reader.     

Working on new scenes

Re-examine your characters, your setting and your plot points. Where can you create mystery for the reader?  Make a list. Are there some things that you are prepared not to know? Or at least, not to know yet?  Just like your reader, you will have to make up your mind eventually.  Take a little care, however, that nothing becomes illogical. If there is a hole in the plot, for example, there must be several satisfactory explanations as to why.
Now identify two or three scenes you could write where you can give a considerable amount of control to your reader.
Enjoy writing them!  

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