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You may find this a useful checklist to work with after you have finished your novel.
Specific to YA novels
- Make sure that your novel is actually a Bildungsroman and that the protagonist has changed by the end of it.
- Make sure that your protagonist and any of his / her friends or peers look like a young adult. Consider also reading abilities and be very clear whether you are writing for a person with near-adult reading skills or for a person who has poorer reading skills but emotionally, physically and mentally is near-adult.
- Make sure the pace is fast.
- Make sure that the reader can engage in the emotions of the characters.
- Consider whether you want to push boundaries or play it safe and go for something which is “chicklet-lit” or something which resembles children’s or adult fiction.
- Leave some of the decisions about what is happening to the reader. The ending should be open but upbeat without being unrealistic. No “happily ever afters”.
- As your novel is primarily a Bildungsroman, it is likely to borrow from several other genres and have several adolescent themes in it. Real life novels tend to be just about real life. Your main character will probably be grappling with one major issue but will be facing all the other issues that young people face.
1. Make sure your story arc works. In particular, watch that the resolution is satisfying.
2. Set in a distinct time and place so that your reader can experience the story with your protagonist.
3. Remember that voice comes from you speaking consistently to a defined reader.
4. Show, don’t tell.
5. Write with the senses to produce good writing but don’t overindulge yourself.
6. Make sure your characters are rounded and believable. Know everything about them but see note 7.
7. Do your research – about your characters, about your setting, about anything else, and then write with that knowledge. Don’t try to cram everything you know into the text. Remember the Character Magic exercise. It works for setting and other things too.
8. Think about all the different types of narrative you might include.
9. Remember the place of dialogue. It must always push the story forward or show more plot. It is best if it does both at once. It must be believable and in character but it also shouldn’t be too natural.
10. Remember the difference between a novel and an epic.
Writing is mainly hard work with a bit of inspiration. Writing is mainly rewriting.