3 August 2012 - Young Adult Fiction

Quote of the day:

"Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent,

hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two

percent that get all the publicity. But then … we elected them!"

Lily Tomlin

Go Lily! Love ya work! - CT

Writing tip of the day - Young Adult Fiction: 

Other than challenging letters to politicians and editors of major newspapers and supportive letters to human rights activists around the world, I write young adult fiction. Some of my stuff has been read by people in their eighties and they loved it. However, I doubt if I could write science fiction or fantasy. Just never liked it, though I did read the trilogy of JRR Tolkien many years ago and found all three stories brilliant. I have to also admit that that I've not read one Harry Potter book.

 What is YA Fiction? The young adult is obviously young but the genre often covers folks from 8 - 25 years-of-age. Young adults have the same desires, interest, curiosity and dreams as most of us adults. In fact, many adults I know read more YA fiction than adult books because they find them more engaging. Mm ... I have often said this to very young kids with a serious expression, 'Not sure what I'll do when I grow up.' They usually look at me as if I've just arrived from Mars. However, hiding inside most of us is a kid trying to get out. If there's not, you are probably taking yourself too seriously, or you've given up hope. Give yourself a break.

Who are young adults? Usually, they are teens with pimples, awkward gaits and a low self esteem. They also are economical with words when speaking to parents: yeah, nope, dunno, maybe etc. Heard it before? Thought so. They also love Facebook and their mobile phones more than you, and generally their bedrooms look like a bombsite. My Mum always made this comment to us as kids, 'The state of your room is the state of your mind.' Thanks, Mum. Mind you, she had lots of other wise statements - still has at 87.

What do we write for big kids? Wow, that varies from author to author. Me, I try to write a story that is engaging and pitch it at reluctant readers, hoping I might hook a kid to read more. I often say, 'Reading is a great habit to get into.' It's true. There is another great statement that is also true, 'Teach someone to read and they can educate themselves.'

I write all sorts of stuff with a variety of protagonists - male and female or a mixture of both. However, whether it is adventure, historical fiction or modern, I try to keep the tempo up and add lots of hidden messages within the story. That's me, as it is with most authors. Conscious or not, we express our own morals, concerns, beliefs and wishes. But, no matter how good your main character is, he / she cannot be 'Peter-perfect'.  Nope, he has to appeal to the young reader as a believable, real-life person with all the frailties of life. Older kids are big on relationships: friends, bullies, lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends. They are emerging adults so things like trust, friendships, love and lust are things that motivate them.

What do we write for the younger kids? Some very young kids are advanced readers. Generally they are kids from primary school ... 6-8 years-of-age. Many of them prefer humour and action-type stories.

What's my job as a YA fiction writer? Answer: a very important one. Fortunately I interact with kids all the time. I listen to them, watch their antics, notice how they dress and wear their caps backwards (Sigh!), watch girls flirt and boys act shyly towards the opposite sex. I also pick up their jargon. Every single time it reminds me of what I was like as a kid. Now, that's a big secret as an author. Many adults have a sellective memory. They forget how recalcitrant they were growing up.

Many teenagers today come from broken homes. Yep, more than 50% of marriages break up in Australia. So, other than teachers and grandparents, many teens have four major adults to deal with in their personal life: Mum and her boyfriend, Dad and his new girlfriend. Wow, that's a complicated mix of personalities. Don't forget, for whatever reason, many teens hate their parents guts, but also love them dearly. Mm ...

So, what do I do? I try to make my characters totally believable. Yep, I climb into their heads and become them. If I want you to dislike or love a certain character, I do a great job, according to many who have reviewed my work. That way, the reader identifies with real people they know - maybe a kid at school, a bully, a sibling or a parent.

I've read heaps of YA fiction books that were too dark. Why do I dislike them? Simple. Why would a teen want to read a dark story when all he has to do is go home and experience the same dark stuff. Many kids today do it tough. What I try to do is entertain my reader and provide the means for my characters to overcome the difficulties they encounter. They, my characters, find a way out, not have an adult do it for them. So, the reader learns a few tips on how to resolve some of their own personal issues.

Why do I write for young adults? I have a very good memory. I vividly recall what happened when I was growing up and know exactly how teens feel. Working with orphans in South East Asia for more than thirty years, and street kids in Australia, has also motivated me and provided great ideas for stories.

Comment: If you check my profile on LinkedIn you will find a fairly simple comment about my views on kids and human rights, "Self-motivated and doggedly determined. Willing to light fires, tear down walls and build bridges to uphold the rights of kids born on the poor side of the village - any village - any country - anytime."

Keep writing!

Don't be shy ... leave a comment or send me an email: clancy_tucker@hotmail.com

Thanks for listening.

I'm Clancy Tucker


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