Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Secret to YA Novels

Ssshh, please don't tell anyone that there's a formula to writing novels. They'll think we're hacks.

So I've decided to study the YA books (that's YOUNG ADULT for all you 1.5 new readers who think I'm speaking in CIA code) that we all covet and adore. Anyways, the thing I'm doing is writing very, very short chapters that end just-like-that. Like you've walked into a door or fallen off a cliff, but not in any violent way.

Because teenagers have the attention spans of ants. This is not a knock. They just do. I still do and I'm an old teenager. So in order to write to them, for them, about them, I keep my chapters VERY short.

Not like this [      ]. But like this []. Seven pages max.

Eight is too much, but you can slip in a few here and there. Just don't go crazy.

Four are ideal.

Two-three are Super-Ideal-Plus.

And, then the cherry on the chapter-cake is when it just ends. Ever see those poor soon-to-be-dead soaps where no one says "Bye," like normal people in real life do?

Example: "Jackson, are you serious? You boinked Jenna and now you want me to forgive you?" And he says while staring at her no less: "Yeah."

End of Scene. End of phone conversation. End of chapter.

That's how it works. And it keeps people tuned in, especially teens. Go see for yourself. They do not say "goodbye, or have a nice day, or Bye, bye." They just end it.

I hope this is helpful. I'm not saying goodbye, but gotta go! (Slams door behind her.)

Long time, no post

So here's something to check out. My friend, Victoria Wilder's website about the brain. It's filled with information that many of us artistic types (crazy?) will want to understand. There's even a section on brain mapping. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How a backyard project is like editing a novel

You always end up doing and spending more than you thought you would.

You gasp in shock when you see those ginormous, ugly sentences that grew like weeds in your manuscript. You down a caraffe of coffee or sangria, then mercilessly rip them out, savoring your new-found power.

You find fresh, brilliant ways to clean your tome and yard, and search for meaningingful angles to unique paths that will maintain the integrity of your intention. Okay, that's a load of cow chips. Let's just say you plow ahead like Scarlett O'Hara, vowing to nevuh, evuh go hungry again. Then you trip on a rock and crack your head open. You have five epiphanies in a row (que up any Jonas Brothers song), go forth, and remove the rot. 


You scour the universe for the perfect words and trees for your novel and backyard. You refuse to give up until you've found them. Wait. Stop. You only want natives, not Swahilian pines. Don't want to confuse agents, editors and readers, do you?

Writer/gardner nirvana, baby! Choices! You're a choices-whore, too? Yay! But don't use too many $10 words when the dollar-ones will do. (Dollar-ones, get it? =p) You reread Strunk & White and return to the nursery with your buckarooski, aka, Golden Ticket.
Que Enya. Now you see unicorns. You see little green men with loads of story-telling potential. Precisely what you've been looking for. Remember, there's nothing wrong with funk and creativity. Don't religiously follow the rules lest your novel sound like the back of a Wheaties box. (Apologies to all WB Writers. I've been there, yearning to bash my clients' heads in. I know the blood, sweat, and shots that go into making a decent ad campaign with legs and steroid-chomping athletes.)
 When stumped and overwhelmed by feelings of stupidity, ask the cat. She is SAGE. She knows all. I'm not kidding. TBC...