Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reading and Writing YA

On Friday night I had the opportunity to attend a reading that was given by two YA (Young Adult) debut authors. Marissa Meyer (Cinder) and Megan Miranda (Fracture) not only read from their books, but discussed the writing process, and their individual roads to publication. It was enlightening, as well as inspiring. As two of the books I’m working on are YA I was excited to get to attend the reading and hear what they had to say. But as I was leaving the bookstore I reflected on something each woman had said: they both read a lot of YA, almost exclusively. I asked myself: am I reading YA? Or perhaps more to the point, am I reading ENOUGH YA? I headed home and worried about this. Barely through the door, I went online and started Googling YA booklists. One in particular, I think it was the Goodreads list, popped up on my screen and I saw book after book that I have indeed read. In actuality, a fairly large proportion of my reading time has been dedicated to YA novels for the past several years. But over those years, the line between YA and mainstream adult has blurred for me, as I’ve gravitated to what interested me, and time and time again what intrigued me was YA literature. Whew!!

Still, I wasn’t entirely satisfied that I was doing my due diligence as a fledgling YA author. I felt I needed to read more…now. I should interject at this point, that I am currently reading no fewer than nine books. Really not a great idea to add another to the pile. But for some reason audiobooks don’t seem to add to this feeling of being overwhelmed; I can listen to them as I do chores! So I loaded Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) onto my ipod. This is my first Stiefvater book. Last fall at Wordstock I got to hear her speak on the topic of YA writing, and was very impressed by her. I’d been intending to read her work ever since, but, well, that enormous pile of books on my nightstand! And an hour ago I found her blog, and what can I say but WOW! What a talented writer. I’ve only just started Shiver and am already in awe of her writing.

So I was doubly thrilled when I discovered one particular post on her blog. Maggie has graciously put what amounts to a lesson from a master’s class on the craft of writing on her blog. She dissects a rough draft of a chapter from her book The Scorpio Races and shows, step by step, the evolution it went through from rough draft to published chapter. It is a very detailed and educational post. Every Fledgling Writer should check it out.

And it gets even better! She invited several other YA authors to do the same with something they had written, so there are many excellent lessons on rewriting, revising, fleshing out, as well as the dreaded ‘hitting the delete’ key.

Happy Writing!

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