Writing YA Books – Create Authentic Worlds
As a child, I sailed away on the Dawn Treader and explored Narnia with Aslan by simply opening pages in a book. While living in rural California, I also grew up in River Heights with Nancy Drew as we solved mysteries together and with Laura Ingalls as we moved from the Big Woods to a sod house and later a little house on the prairie during an era more than a hundred years old.
While I love movies and many forms of entertainment, there’s nothing like reading to really escape into an alter-reality. There’s just something magical about that to me.
It’s essential for a writer to remember what it’s like to be a reader. The writer is in the creator seat, imitating the true Creator and building fictive worlds, people and dramas.
For the young adult market, the importance of creating a “real” fictive world is even further essential. This world is created in descriptions, language, slangs, fashion, styles, and social groups. In my first YA, Ruby Unscripted, Ruby had always dreamed big in her small-town life with her lower-middle class conservative family. But as her dreams come true, she has culture shock when she moves to the affluent and liberal Marin County. In my second YA, Beautiful, Ellie is one of those seemingly perfect Christian girls while her sister Megan is labeled “trouble.” And in upcoming Caleb+Kate, Kate is wealthy and attends a private school while the guy she falls in love with has a very different background.
For each of these books and characters, the styles, voices, slangs, fashion, groups of friends, even bedroom décors are all very different from one another because of who they are, where they come from, and what time and place the book is set. For YA fiction, writers MUST make the outside and inner worlds of our characters believable or readers will shake their heads and toss the books aside.
Author Margaret Culkin Banning said, “Fiction is not a dream. Nor is it guesswork. It is imagining based on facts, and the facts must be accurate or the work of imagining will not stand up.”
What’s fun is that the same experience I had while reading is also the experience I have in writing. I escape into new realms and picture my readers with me. Together, we discover people and worlds not our own and have the chance to live thousands of lives. As writer and reader, it’s an experience like no other.
Thank you Cindy! Now onto my review!
Her friends once thought she was perfect. Now she must face the mirror--and herself--to discover what true beauty is.
Then in the course of a few minutes, the loose string in Ellie's life completely unravels. Forever changed, she must face herself as she discovers what it really means to be beautiful.
I could take a guess what Beautiful was about based on the book summary and book cover but I pushed it out of my mind so I could fully enjoy the book and be in the present moment with Ellie as everything happened. And I am sure glad I did because this book was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Ellie never had to work hard to make her life the way she wanted it, unlike her sister Megan, who to most is invisible. When Ellie has to restart her life she knows she can't just go back to the way things used to be, but what can she make of her life now? It's about Ellie finding herself and accepting herself for who she was and who is know is.
One thing I hadn't realized about Beautiful was that it was a sister story! Not only do we hear things from Ellie's point of view we get to know Megan as well, who I rather liked also! It's about them really getting to know each other after having lived in the same house for 17 years and really not actually knowing each other.
I liked and didn't like how everything in the book wasn't clean cut. Sometimes you just want everything to work out exactly how you'd imagine but really we know that's not always true. So I think this book did a great job of portraying this situation with honesty. Maybe you'll never exactly know where you stand with the boys in your life, or maybe for awhile you didn't want to believe in God or maybe your plans for the future had to be completely re-written.
One thing I wanted to address was this is a Young Adult Christian Fiction story (my first actually) but I found it very relatable as someone that is not a Christian. It's a very universal story.
Overall, Beautiful was beautiful and honest and heartbreaking.
Beautiful was released on November 3rd 2009
Genre: Young Adult Christian Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher