Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Young Adult Novels
“In young adult literature you often see this transformation: it is an organic, inherent manifestation of the change the protagonist is undergoing. It is not at all typical of the adult novel where the reliability of the narrator tends to remain consistent. If I am right about this, then might it be a possible criterion for defining the art or strand of the young adult novel?”
Now we’re getting somewhere—I think!
Roxburgh adds another distinctive—poetry—to YA novels. As I read his explanation I’m nodding.
Yes, that’s one thing that makes a stellar YA—the distinctive poetry of the protagonist’s voice.
Roxburgh adds: “I can think of no other category of fiction in which poetic elements contribute more strongly to characterization than in the young adult novel.” The voice of the protagonist is the conduit for his/her character, personality, struggles, victories and change. In a successful YA the poetry of a distinctive voice makes the protagonist a sympathetic character with whom I can relate. One I can love, or love to hate.
In the article "YA today" in Writer's Digest (May/June 2010. pages 26-31) Jessica Strawser compiles the opinions of five prestigious editors and agents regarding today's YA books. Each of them responds to the same eight questions. At some point in their replies ALL of them mention the critical factor of voice. They use terms like, "fresh," "frank," "honesty,' "realness," "authenticity" and "integrity."
In the article, Anica Mrose Rissi, senior editor of Simon Pulse says, "YA writers must have an authentic teen voice, which comes from tapping into the intense emotional experience of being a teen. The technology, trends and slang may change dramatically over the years, but the emotions are universal, and you will find that emotional truth and intensity at the core of every great YA novel." (page 31.)
I think I'm capturing authentic emotions in my manuscript. But not for today's teens. Hmmm. I suspect that, on the emotional level, my story and my MC will appeal more to women twenty years past their teens.
As Winnie the Pooh says, it’s time to “think, think, think.”