I caught the tail end of the morning keynote by Sophie Littlefield (Garden of Stones) and decided she would be one of the first panels I attended. She’s very entertaining and keeps the panel lively, so if you’re putting together a writers conference, she may be one you want to call. Her panel was called:
YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW TO WRITE YA
Start with yourself. We were all YA age once. Some of us may not remember all of the details of our YA age, but with a little thinking you can pull out those YA thoughts and feelings and infuse them in your fiction. So when asking yourself these questions, reach inside for that 14-year-old self and let’s begin.
Who am I – IN MY ENVIRONMENT. What difference does my presence make to my family, school, community, neighborhood?
Who am I – IN MY OWN HEAD. What emotions do I experience on an everyday basis? What is my emotional “resting state?” (For example, you’re typically a crabby person, a happy person, a shy person, etc.)
Who am I – WITH OTHER PEOPLE. What do others think of me? Am I well liked? Do I like others? Whose opinion matters to me? Who does my opinion matter to?
When writing YA don’t focus on the parent, unless they are a story trigger.
Now that you are 14 again…. How does it feel in your body? What emotions dominate? How is it different from being an adult? What do you care about that an adult doesn’t? What matters to you?
There are different types of approaches you can take to your story and more specifically the focus you’ll take in your story. One of the biggest themes of adolescent fiction is the forming of identity. Consider the “who am I” questions with your character in terms of identity.