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June 2012

Why young adult novels are so compelling 150 150 srvvsa

Why young adult novels are so compelling

Source: womanaroundtown.com

While young adult novels are typically geared to those in the 12-18 age range, they’ve become increasingly popular amongst all age groups and genders—it’s no longer surprising to find middle age readers frequenting the young adult aisles of your favorite book store. In fact, it’s become the standard.

Readers embrace books for young adults regardless of their age because the themes and issues addressed are relatable for everyone. Readers of dystopian novels, paranormal romance novels, and science fiction and fantasy books are especially fanatical, as many books for young adults cross the boundaries for a satisfying mix that usually offers a message that everyone can identify with.

The diverse topics explored in young adult novels expose readers to unfamiliar aspects of their world as well as other cultures, while examining deep issues in a nonthreatening way. They offer a chance to empathize with the book’s protagonist and other characters, while learning the importance of relationships, sources of conflict and methods of resolution. In addition, readers see how the characters cope with situations and tragedies, and evolve as a result.

Often times, readers will be inspired by the message in these books. For example, many popular dystopian novels feature an empowered female protagonist who overcomes wide-ranging obstacles to survive in a world or situation that’s basically considered hopeless. The outcome of these novels gives the reader a glimmer of hope and ideas for coping with similar situations in real life.

Readers who fall outside the conventional demographic for books for young adults may not be facing issues such as peer pressure, losing one’s virginity and drug experimentation—however, nearly everyone experiences these situations at one time or another, most likely during the coming of age period. So while they may not be relating at this exact moment, they can apply past experience to empathize with the themes and even use some of the fundamental aspects of the message in present day. This element also adds to the escapism factor of reading, allowing the reader to reminisce about days gone by, past accomplishments and past relationships.

Even when a book takes place in an otherworldly setting, like what you may find in science fiction and fantasy books and paranormal romance novels, young adult characters will typically still deal with the issues of adolescence and crossing the threshold into adulthood. Some great examples of this include Vampire Academy, The Host, Revealing Eden, Bitten and Graceling.

Command of the Genre 150 150 srvvsa

Command of the Genre

Whether your goal is to write young adult fiction books or end of the world books geared to a more adult audience, one of the most valuable talents you can have is a command of the genre. Even if you want to blend several genres or cross the boundaries with different pieces, fully understanding the conventions will make your work stronger and more compelling.

Genres are classifications of stories or art forms, such as film or books, that are marked by distinctive style or content, and defined by pre-existing conventions. These conventions may include: 1) setting and location, as with dystopian literature set in a post apocalyptic world, 2) narratives, 3) character, as with young adult books, and 4) themes and issues.

While there are not set rules exactly, strong knowledge of the genre you seek to write will allow you to benefit from the patterns set by other successful examples as well as how the fundamentals of dramatics play out in your work. The best thing to do when you’re starting out and as you continue to write is to determine what you want to write and then read a multitude of books in that genre. Don’t limit yourself to just one or two authors, even if they are the most successful or bestselling; read many of that genre. For example, if you want to write end of the world books, you should read the gamut of authors in that arena, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides to Richard Matheson’s I am Legend, Stephen King’s The Stand, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and everything in between.

Reading many books of one genre allows you to absorb the dynamics that work best for the audience. This also helps you to understand what type of characters the audience relate best to and will invest in—this will, in turn, help you to create the most interesting and identifiable characters for your own novel.

Fans of any particular genre, from dystopian literature and horror to science fiction and fantasy books, have certain expectations. Being a part of the audience for a period of time lets you know and understand what those are so that you can deliver and even exceed your reader’s expectations—in other words, you’ll have command of your genre. So focus in on the genre you want to write and start reading as much as possible.

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Strong female characters in young adult novels 150 150 srvvsa

Strong female characters in young adult novels

Katniss Everdeen, Eden Newman, Bella  Swan—if it weren’t for some of these strong female protagonists in young adult novels, teenage girls may still be looking for that fairy tale ending of being rescued by their knight in shining armor—on a white horse, of course.

Beautiful as those fairy tales may be, there’s nothing like having a strong female role model to look up to. Even though protagonists in paranormal romance novels may have supernatural powers to help them out, or the heroine in one of the many popular dystopian novels was born with survival instincts that would have made even a cave man look weak, the strong women portrayed give us all something to aspire to and be inspired by.

While it may seem something new to readers of young adult novels, strong female characters have been around for ages. While Scarlett O’Hara may not have exuded physical strength, she had the survival instincts of a mother lion protecting her cubs from an onslaught of bloodthirsty wolves. In Little Women, Jo helped her sisters mentally survive the war and even cut and sold her beautiful hair off in a moment of strength and selflessness. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood humanizes her female characters by giving them agency against their subjugation. Even in Memoirs of a Geisha, Sakamoto Chiyo, a poverty-stricken girl from s fishing village rises to the top ranks as a geisha, surviving through war and emotional despair to achieve the life she always dreamt of.

Now the strength of women in books is more surface and all encompassing. All of the new dystopian novels and end of the world books seem to have female heroines who are young, sexy and capable of killing off their enemies with the ease of a warrior. No longer does a woman in these books have to depend on the physical strength of a man to save her—she may even be able to do it better than they can.

In paranormal romance novels of recent years, the female protagonists may be blessed with magical or supernatural traits that make them stronger, or as with Bella, they grow physically stronger due to a transformation or character arc.

What’s integral, however, and what will hopefully not be lost with this trend towards kick a&% heroines is that they don’t lose that inner strength that made female characters so compelling throughout the history of literature. Perhaps these characters need to be created in a more realistic vein, with some powers but maybe not all the prowess of her male counterpart. Or maybe if they’re that physically strong, we can witness their emotional arcs of becoming strong in other ways as well.

In reality, women are complex, with strengths evolving from all aspects of their physical, mental and emotional well-being.  We have flaws and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Let’s hope authors remember this and create female heroines who we’ll still be able to believe in, relate to and be inspired by.

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Tips for Writing Paranormal Romance Novels 150 150 srvvsa

Tips for Writing Paranormal Romance Novels

Paranormal romance novels are hot as ever—more are being made into films or televisions shows, installments are churned out incessantly and conventions are teeming with fans. Yet with so much competition, how do you write one that stands apart from the rest?

A sub-genre of romance with roots in Gothic fiction, paranormal romance novels may focus on the love story yet take place in a sci-fi or otherworldly setting. They are very similar to science fiction and fantasy books, in that the love story often feels like more of a subplot as the ultra-imaginative settings can drive much of the plot. While the genres often blend together successfully, there are some elements to writing paranormal that set it apart and can, at times, make it more difficult to do well.

When writing supernatural and horror themes, it’s important that the mythology is solid and well thought out. While the sky is your limit, especially when writing young adult novels, the history still needs to be thoroughly established. While the Twilight series was clearly about vampires, author Stephanie Meyer still created her own particular brand of vampires with their own unique mythology.

A good practice for all types of young adult novels is to write full bios for the main characters. When writing paranormal romance novels, it’s good to delve as deep as you can when creating their “culture.” Delve into the origin of the supernatural characters’ powers and weaknesses. How many of their kind are there? Are they good or evil? What motivates them? Are their powers obvious to humans or are they hidden? What causes them to lose their powers? Do they have emotions similar to humans? What do they like and dislike? Answering questions like these will add layers of complexity, both for the characters and the plot.

While vampires and wizardry may be losing some of its allure, readers still flock to the paranormal. As with science fiction and fantasy books, originality is essential to the appeal of paranormal romance novels. Competition is fierce, and unless your vampire story is extremely innovative and told in a way that’s never been done before, readers may pass your novel up for one of the extremely popular dystopian novels saturating the market right now. Make your concept as fresh and new as possible. Tell it from a different POV, create a society like no other or find another way to make your novel shine with originality.

Trends among young adult fantasy novels 150 150 srvvsa

Trends among young adult fantasy novels

In the past few years, there’s been a surge in popularity among young adult fantasy novels. There was a huge boom in paranormal romance novels with all the Twilight fanfare, spurring a multitude of vampire novels that seemed never ending. Yet now readers seem to be losing interest in vampires in wizardry, but not necessarily in fantasy—sales of post apocalyptic fiction, dystopian novels and end of the world books are booming.

While young adult fantasy novels grow increasingly popular in the publishing world, readers are growing more and more discerning with each new release. Readers aren’t just looking for supernatural elements that serve as obstacles to the romantic storyline anymore—they want to read about strong, empowered characters who they can relate to, even when the story lines have paranormal or magical elements or take place in a post apocalyptic world.

Librarians from all over the country report that the popularity of dystopian novels is continuing to rise. Books that combine fantasy with real issues and concerns that are relevant to teen’s lives are the most in demand. For example, in Twilight, even though Bella is in love with a vampire, we can relate to how she feels as a newcomer to Forks as well as her instant attraction to Edward and the impediments that stand in the way of their young love, even though they’re fantastical. Despite the fact that the obstacles are Edward’s undead attributes and doomed fate, the storyline has elements that are relevant to the lives of modern day teens, and are, therefore, compelling to the young adult audience.

While the popularity of paranormal romance novels starts to decline, the acceptance of magic and fantasy in young adult novels is here to stay. The recent popularity in zombie books and films is testament to that, as well as the continued growth in sales of end of the world books. Whether the trend is a result of the rampant 2012 prophecies and increasing hysteria about a zombie apocalypse, or the economic and political climate of the world today, the grim settings of dystopian literature clearly appeal to the young adult audience and beyond. Whether the protagonists find themselves struggling to survive or exist in a dark, depressing post apocalyptic world, they still have to cope with issues of peer pressure, sex and drugs. While young adult fantasy novels may take place in an otherworldly setting, they’re more focused on understanding real issues than escaping reality.