Blog Chain: I’m In A YA State of Mind

Blog Chain time again! This question comes from Margie, who asks: 

How do you get in the mindset of your genre? Do you research people or facts? Do you just reach into the recesses of your mind for events that would make a good story? Something else?

Hmm…so many ways I could take this one. I think I’ll approach it from two angles: 1) How I really get into the mindset on YA writing and 2) How I build authenticity into my stories.

Okay, let’s look at the first thing – Getting into a YA state of mind. First, I need to start by telling you my personal definition for YA. To me, YA isn’t just about having MCs that are young adults, and talking about things that are relevant to that time in our lives. It is also the WAY in which I write the story. YA stories are very much like one of my fav adult genres, mysteries – they are fast paced, both plot and character driven and interesting. Whether it is romance, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi or contemporary, YA stories share pacing and depth.

Okay, that being said, how do I pick stories relevant to this genre? Easy, I pull on my experiences and those of the teens I interact with every single day. I focus on the emotional themes of first love, coming of age, and the teen angst/problems many of our youth face – whether it is gender identity, bullying, risky behaviors, etc. These are universal themes that show up in adult fiction as well, but in YA there is an intensity that makes them so very compelling to me.

Okay, what about part two – authenticity? How do I take these stories and emotional themes and make them appealing to both teens and adults (because, of course, I want the largest readership possible)? For me, that answer lies in pure authenticity. I literally see the world from the perspective of my character. Sure, the author (me) is there making sure the words are strung together in a way I like, and the plot arc is something that makes sense to me as an author. But the story itself is all character.

As I have said in earlier posts, I am a bit of a “method” writer. When I am in the middle of writing a novel, everything is viewed from the lens of my characters. So writing simply becomes a matter of telling the story that is already playing out in my thoughts.

Michelangelo once said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  This is very much how the process of creating a story works for me – the story exists in my head through the ideas of the characters that have sprung to life in my subconscious. My job is to get it from my head to the printed page. In this way, I am always in the mindset of my genre and authentic to my stories.

How do you adopt the mindset of your particular genre? 

For more on the topic, you can check out Laura’s post a few days ago and Abby’s post tomorrow.

And just a reminder – I am drawing the name of a random commenter this week and sending them some fabu bookish swag as part of my launch party madness. Will it be you?

8 thoughts on “Blog Chain: I’m In A YA State of Mind

  1. That’s a toughie. I guess I never thought about how I get into a particular mindset – I just do it. This bears more introspection. Thanks for giving me something to think about this morning.

  2. Veronica Rossi

    Great post & great approach – Keep the pace moving, and search for an authentic representation of character and world. Thank you for a great reminder.

  3. This is very much how the process of creating a story works for me – the story exists in my head through the ideas of the characters that have sprung to life in my subconscious. My job is to get it from my head to the printed page.

    When I used to sketch drawings, people would ask me about my inspiration and imagination. I would always tell them, “the picture was always there on the paper, I’m just shading in the lines so everyone else can see it.” Then I would say the same thing about my stories. “The words were always there on the paper, I’m just shading in the lines.” Never knew someone else had said the same thing so long ago. Good to know artist all think on the same page, since I agree with a lot of what you said. Great post!

  4. I love how you say that you’re a “method” writer😉. I felt that way a lot when I was working on Legacy of the Empress. I’d really try to put myself into the scene and feel what my character would be feeling.

    Luckily my husband is very understanding, otherwise I think my angst-channeling would have gotten old fast. LOL!

  5. Natalie Aguirre

    Great and thoughtful answer. I find I’m drawing a lot from my daughter and her friends who will be in 9th grade to get me going.

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