I read a lot of books about writing. Each one is different and contains some bit of information (or more than one) that takes me in my path to become a better writer.
The most recent one explores, as part of setting goals, passion. Part of it deals with the “one-sentence pitch.” (I’ve always heard it called a premise.) I wrote one before my most-recent in progress novel, “Four young teens whose goal is to each be ‘normal’ are beset by nightmares sent to them by a desperate other-being who wants to regain his freedom.”
Moving on from that, the book also explores goals as a writer to show how to give each story your own unique mark. Examples given:
“I want to write X stories with Y and Z. (I want to write sensual stories with suspense and intrigue.)
X and Y are what writer Z is all about. (Spunky heroines and slapstick comedy are what Jack Doe is all about.)”
I wonder how many of the authors I know use a formula like that. I think I write in several different areas, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love each of them. In one way, you can see it easily getting slated for one genre- sensual stories might put someone in romance, for example. It also works across genres to say that perhaps the action stories the author chose to write would have a sensual side.
I’ve been giving it some thought. I’m working on my own words to fill in X, Y, and Z, but I just haven’t found them yet.
“A YA novel is gritty and gruesome in a way that a middle grade novel never would be.”
While researching my latest novel, I came across this sentence. The “gritty and gruesome” part stuck with me; I really enjoy writing to the teen/young adult age group and part of the reason why is because of those two words.
I grew up reading Judy Blume. A lot of her more famous books covered life as a child, but there were also some books in there that talked about getting older and larger issues. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Deenie, and forever… are a few of those. She also wrote some novels for adults. In all of her books she treated her audience fairly and wrote the story as it needed to be told. I really respect her as a writer because of this, especially after listening to several children’s authors who believe everything must fit into their lowest category of sold books.
What I’ve learned from listening to writers and readers is that everyone has a limit of what they’ll read and enjoy. I understand this – it’s part of the human condition. I don’t feel like it should limit me on what I want to write and share because I also happen to publish young adult novels. One day I might write a picture book, but I don’t think that should limit me from putting a fist fight in another novel somewhere or mentioning that two (adult) characters had sex. It’s part of the story: leaving out those parts make a lot of stories weaker and less believable.
I love the genres I write. I would be ecstatic to become one of those names people think of when they talk about authors. More than anything I want to share the stories in my head, but I don’t want to limit them or pull my punches because I also write to a young audience.
I also don’t want to write a weaker story and say I had to because I also write for children. I’d rather take credit for my failings and say it was because I wasn’t comfortable writing the scene or that it went against my core values to take it farther than I did. If I market a book to an age group, I’ll fit that age group. If the book is to adults, then expect some adult content. I expect that of the books I read and I won’t give less to what I write.