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Supernatural characters in young adult fantasy novels

Posted on: July 3rd, 2012 by admin 2,949 Comments

With the success of young adult fantasy novels such as the Twilight and Harry Potter series, supernatural protagonists were the standard over the last few years. Even though readers may be tiring of vampires and wizardry, it seems that characters with supernatural powers or paranormal tendencies are here to stay.

Supernatural protagonists are everywhere in books for young adults—obviously in paranormal romance novels but also in anything from romance and steampunk to the ever popular dystopian novels. Readers who crave fantasy can easily get their fix from a dystopian world, where characters may have gained their new powers or characteristics due to a meltdown caused by the apocalypse or have arrived from another planet or otherworldly setting.

Vampires dominated the world of paranormal romance novels because teens and other YA readers could easily relate to their plights. While readers may not empathize with their thirst for blood, they may very well understand the need for acceptance from peers and angst about issues such as young love, drugs and developing an identity.

Books for young adults that feature vampires, zombies and witches are not only a means of escape, they offer the reader new perspectives that they can apply to their own life or relate to from past experiences. While the fantasy element makes the characters different, at their core are traits and experiences that many of us are either facing or have experienced at one time or another. Their relationships will have to overcome obstacles that all readers can understand, and witnessing their growth, or “character arc,” will provide readers ideas for dealing with their own personal dilemmas. Reading about a situation lets people know they’re not alone, and at the very least, that the author must have faced it themselves.

In dystopian novels, characters who are magically “gifted” with supernatural or paranormal powers offer readers a glimmer of hope in the context of more dramatic settings and situations than we live in. However, the characters’ ability to cope provides readers inspiration for dealing with their own real life situations.

 

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Why young adult novels are so compelling

Posted on: June 29th, 2012 by admin 15 Comments

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

Posted on: June 21st, 2012 by admin 11 Comments

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

Posted on: June 15th, 2012 by admin 821 Comments


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

Posted on: June 7th, 2012 by admin 10 Comments
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

Posted on: June 1st, 2012 by admin 13 Comments

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.

Writing young adult novels—the basics

Posted on: May 25th, 2012 by admin 14 Comments
Writing young adult novelsis not as easy as you might think. It’s not just about writing something hip or trendy, nor is it as simple as writing from an adolescent perspective or having a teenage protagonist. While a major part of the audience is in the standard young adult demographic (12-17), people from all ages read young adult novels. If you’re not a teenager yourself, it takes a level of sophistication to write in a tone that does not talk down to readers, yet approaches storytelling with the straightforward language and lack of gratuity that characterizes so many books for young adults.Whether you’re writing a series of dystopian novels, paranormal romance books or young adult fantasy novels, when geared to the YA audience, it’s fundamental for the story and tone to convey the essence of adolescence and coming-of-age, and address themes that are relatable to teens and their experience. The reason why young adult novels work among readers of all ages is that everyone can relate to those issues—we faced the same ones as teenagers and can most likely still remember the experience, or are even facing similar ones now. For those in the age range of the audience originally deemed as YA, it’s just that it may be the first time both they and the characters in the story face certain situations.

While books for young adults often focus on sex and drugs, it’s not always about the obvious—it’s about discovering who you are and where you fit in. Almost every YA book, even young adult fantasy novels that might take place in an otherworldly, imaginary setting, will take you on an adventure where the protagonist shares their triumphs, obstacles and mistakes as they discover who they are and where they belong.

Adolescence is a time of fun, confusion, raging hormones and volatile emotions. It’s when you dream of falling in the kind of love you read about in paranormal romance books. We learn about humanity, suffering and the good in life during our teens. This may explain why the young adult audience is leaning towards dystopian novels right now—while on a larger, more global scope with darker and sometime horrifying plots and settings, they address those themes and we all can relate on some level.

Regardless of the genre, YA fiction continues to inspire the reader’s journey to find out who they are. Perhaps the reason that young adult novels appeal to all ages is because we are all still discovering ourselves.

Why young adult fiction books make the grade

Posted on: May 16th, 2012 by admin 18 Comments

The widespread popularity of young adult fiction books is an anomaly to many—it’s hard for people to understand why adults want to read books targeted to a teen audience. “Want” is an understatement—teens and adults alike line up at bookstores to get their hands on books the day they’re released, flock to conventions and wait with baited breath until the final installments of various series are published. While it may seem like an oddity or deviation from common sense to many, it makes perfect sense if you break down the factors that appeal to the young adult audience.

While it’s easy to understand the bias against young adult novels, if you haven’t read any of the bestsellers, you’re missing the plot, no pun intended. Some may have read one young adult book they disliked immensely and swore off the genre forever. Obviously, both good and bad writing are not attributes of any genre in particular, so an entire category can never be judged on the experience of reading one book.

Targeted marketing campaigns aside, many young adult fiction books of recent years boast incredible depth and quality, tackling important issues and themes that transcend age and gender. For example, many popular dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and Revealing Eden portray address issues that, while commonly faced by teen protagonists, are ones that we’ve all experienced at one point or another and can relate to on myriad levels. Yet this can be said of many adult novels as well, so why are books for young adults becoming increasingly popular among audiences of all ages?

The reality is that there can be very little difference between adult fiction and young adult fiction books. Some of the best authors in history penned books that weren’t necessarily geared for a teen audience, yet the age of their protagonist dictated their genre classification as young adult. Excellent examples of this include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Catcher in the Rye, Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Go Ask Alice.

Another element behind the appeal of young adult novels is that they tend to be easy, quick reads written in straightforward language. Sometimes we’re looking for a true form of escape—and few books provide that as well as books for young adults do. Even dystopian novels offer a vacation from reality while enlightening or reminding us about social issues. They tend to be unique, fast-paced reads that are incredibly thought-provoking.

Last but not least, many adults simply want to see what the fuss is all about. With the record-breaking successes of series like Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Save the Pearls, those who would normally abhor young adult novels have opened their minds to the magic they evoke.

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Our Fascination with End of the World Books

Posted on: May 10th, 2012 by admin 14 Comments

Does the majority of our society believe we are doomed? Our fascination with end of the world books seems to indicate that we do. Whether it’s the Mayan predictions of 2012 or the words of Nostradamus, prophecies about the end of the world have been debated in books, idealized in films and flooding our pop culture for some time. From scholars, intellects and religious leaders to readers of young adult novels, there is clearly a near obsession with an apocalyptic ending of the world as we know it.

Movies in recent years have depicted fantastical portrayals of what could happen in the event of an apocalypse. In Legion, God was fed up with the wicked ways of the world and sent his angels to earth to mercilessly destroy it. In Zombieland, an epidemic plague turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating undead. In dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, society is divided into a harsh caste system where each of 12 districts send two of their young to battle to the death in an arena watched by the entire country. In Revealing Eden, most of the population is killed when the sun overheats, casting fatal radiation that those with light-skin cannot withstand. Young adult novels like these two are enlightening a younger audience of readers who devour books of this genre.

Clearly, pop culture is fascinated with doomsday. Sociologists say that the growing interest in end of the world books exponentially increases with catastrophes and negative times, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, war and economic recession. Perhaps there’s a sort of comfort readers take in reading about people in worse circumstances, or they can relate to the characters’ predicaments. Or maybe it’s the dystopian novels with hope that give them faith in the potential prospects for the future.

Whatever the driving force behind the current surge in popularity is, end of the world books and dystopian novels have been an object of fascination in our culture for hundreds of years. From Noah’s Ark and the flood that wiped out humanity and Mary Shelley’s Last Man, which was published in 1826, to modern day novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Victoria Foyt’s Revealing Eden, the appeal with the end of times reflects a hunger for meaning among readers of all ages.

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Why Young Adult novels appeal to everyone

Posted on: May 4th, 2012 by admin 6 Comments

It’s clear that young adult novels appeal to all ages—adult women flock to Twilight conventions and book signings, and it’s not just to accompany their teenage daughters (though clearly, they’re big fans of as well). Everyone from tweens to the middle aged swarm the bookstores for the latest young adult fiction books. It’s an interesting phenomenon and something worth looking at—why do young adult novels appeal to readers of all ages?

For starters, young adult novels provide an extraordinary escape into an imaginary world, far away from reality. While they address themes that are all too familiar to the teenage crowd, the issues tend to be ones that readers of all ages can relate to. If you were ever a teen, you’ve been there, done that—plus, many of the issues YA books cover transcend age and gender. The result is an entertaining outlet that is compelling and intellectually stimulating to every type of reader.

Another element of young adult fiction books that appeals to all ages is their tendency to cross boundaries and genres. Many popular books for young adults blend elements of romance, sci-fi, mystery, steampunk, fantasy and adventure. Others might combine dystopian literature with a romantic storyline or subplot, such as The Hunger Games trilogy and popular new releases like Save the Pearls Part One Revealing Eden. The possibilities are endless in the YA genre, as readers are open and excited to get their fix of many different elements, so authors strive to deliver.

In a recent survey conducted among adults who regularly buy books for young adults, many said they preferred the straightforward language they’re written in, as opposed to some of the flowery prose found in many adult novels. Readers also said they appreciated that there can be a romantic storyline and elements of fantasy, without some of the stylistic devices and gratuitous content that is often prevalent in books geared to an older audience. Books for young adults, even those from genres like fantasy, adventure or sci-fi, are all about the story—Revealing Eden is a perfect example—like much other dystopian literature, it’s got strong story with themes of romantic apocalypse woven in.