Sunday, August 18, 2013

Writing Tips with a YA Twist

Writing tips are everywhere. Writing advice, courses, webinars, everything you can imagine is floating out there on the interwebs. Not all of it is helpful. But what I almost always find valuable are quotations from the modern and classic masters. Some I’ve read before, but usually I stumble on new ones too, which help freshen my mindset and think of things differently. I’ve taken some helpful, logical, maybe obvious but always inspirational quotes (that you may or may not have already read somewhere) and I’ve added my own YA-themed commentary, just to give them that extra UMPH!

“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.” –Will Self

I saw a girl in a used bookstore once. She was no more than thirteen, but was chatting confidently with the workers, wearing a black skirt, boots and had a funky bag. I immediately wanted to pick her up and plunk her down in a dark yet quirky YA story. She was so unique; I wanted to craft a story around her. I wasn’t two steps out the door before I was tweeting about her. But, I failed to make a note (whether in notebook or phone) about the intricacies about why she was so interesting. Next time, you can be sure I’ll write it down.

“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” –W. Somerset Maugham

One word: Twilight. No, I jest! But seriously, stories aren’t about the words as much as they are about the characters, their relationships and their actions. What do I remember about the Twilight series (having read it almost 5 years ago)? I don’t remember how many times Stephenie Meyer wrote the word “eye.” (Though I do know it was a LOT.) But I do remember the fierceness which Edward and Jacob both loved and wanted Bella. I remember Bella standing up for those she loved. In the end, I remembered that Meyer is a great storyteller.

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” –Virginia Woolf

Writing YA is a great way to bare that misunderstood, acne-riddled, lonely teenage soul. Dive into the depth of your own secrets. Let fear take over your heart then put it all on the page. Tapping into your own angsty adolescence might just be the catalyst to discovering the truth of human emotion and motivation. And if not, at least you can say you tried.

“It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” –Jonathan Franzen

So log off Facebook. Close out Twitter and Tumblr. Get off Google and Goodreads. Stop reading that blog—wait, after you finish this, please… But, unless you’re researching (which does not include Wikipedia) the internet is the black hole in which word count goals are lost. Great intentions or not, open that browser and your productivity levels will plunge like an angel falling from the sky.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Basically, less is more. People often think that editing is about fixing and adding and explaining. But it’s not; it’s about paring down the story to the bare essentials. It’s about leaving just want is needed to tell the story, tell it well, and get out. Don’t bog down the reader with conversations about homework, clothing, dinner dates, study sessions, basic teenage day-to-day life, unless it is absolutely (underlined and highlighted) essential to the story.

“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” –Edgar Rice Burroughs

Therefore, you must write. Daily. A lot. As much as you can get down. Just keeping going. Don’t stop! And someday, the words may be good. Great, even. And not only because the more words you have, the more the odds are in your favor, but the more words you’ve written, the more experience you have as well.
May the odds be ever in your favor! (I promise I didn’t select that last quote just so I could say that. Mostly.)

Now, get writing!

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