Thursday, May 23, 2013

Writing for the Young Adult Market By Krista McGee

Krista McGee

Know your audience.
Young adult writers need to spend time with teens, get to know them. Writers can’t assume their adolescent experiences will translate into comparable experiences for 21st century teens. The reality of life as a teenager today is radically different from what it was twenty – or even ten -- years ago. Though the pressures are similar, the pace at which kids are exposed to those pressures has increased dramatically. The avenues through which those pressures come are far more varied, subtle, and dangerous. Teens today develop friendships over Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, Path…They rarely pick up a home phone and think a PC is an ancient artifact. Their computers are handheld, and much of their self-image can be found within the slim confines of their iPod Touch. The stories that will resonate with them acknowledge all that – and more. Even if the story is set in the past (or future), current realities must be considered.

Write for a specific audience.
No matter what you write, you won’t be able to appeal to all teens everywhere. Teens, like adults, have varied interests, are at different places socially, spiritually, and emotionally. Some writers in the Christian market cover pretty heavy subjects  – drugs, sex, suicide. They address those themes, not because they are seeking to push the envelope, but because their audience faces those issues at school and at home, and those writers want their readers to see those issues handled from a Christian perspective. On the other hand, the audience I write for are predominantly Christian kids who are truly seeking to live the Christ-life. I don’t discuss sex, drugs, and suicide, not because I want to avoid those topics, but because my audience wants to hear more about how to deal with apathy, how to grow in their faith, how to find their self-worth in Christ and not in the opinions of others. My books do not appeal to all audiences, but I never intended them to. I write for a specific audience, and I am overjoyed when I get emails from readers thanking me for speaking to them through my stories.

Keep it moving.
Teens today don’t like to wait. Thanks to DVRs and Youtube, there is little need to watch commercials – at least not for more than 5 seconds. They can complete research for their term papers online in one night – no scouring books after finding them with the card catalogue. Food is fast, and opinions expressed in 120 characters or less. As much as some of us want to spend several pages developing our exposition, we just can’t. Descriptions have to come between dialogue, a sentence at a time. And dialogue has to be fast, moving the plot along.  Less summary, more action. Cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. Keep the kids turning pages or you lose them – after all, they have a group chat and an Instagram daily challenge they could be doing right now.

Dora here. Do you write for the YA market?
What are some of the challenges you've faced and how did you overcome them?
About Krista McGee
When Krista McGee isn't living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she lives in Tampa and spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher, and coffee snob. 

Right Where I Belong
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Natalia’s about to discover her place in the world . . . and it’s not following in her father’s footsteps.

After watching her father jump from one marriage to the next, Natalia has completely written off love. And when her father divorces his third wife—the only one who has been a mother to her—Natalia is ready to write him off too.

Needing a change of scenery, Natalia leaves her home in Spain and relocates with her stepmother to sun-soaked Florida. But she didn’t realize just how far a new school, a new culture, and a new lifestyle would push her out of her comfort zone.

One of her biggest surprises comes from Brian, a pastor’s son with an adorable smile, who loves God with a sincerity that astounds Natalia. She doesn’t want to fall for him, but she can’t seem to avoid him long enough to get him out of her mind.

Love is the last thing Natalia wants. Even so, God has her right where she belongs.