Monday, 20 October 2014

Tips picked up at "Writing YA" masterclass

I mentioned earlier in the week that I had attended an event put on by Bloomsbury and the Writer and Artist's Yearbook called "Writing YA" with Sarah Crossan and Julia Churchill.It was a fantastic event, great to meet some fellow writers, including some of the writers from my SCBWI e-critique group - great to finally put some faces to the stories (even if my mind did go temporarily blank and forget who was writing what).

The evening was full of lots of useful advice, and I thought I'd gather some together here, together with some of the tweets by Ellie Gibbons, who works for Writers and Artists/Bloomsbury!

Sarah Crossan (author of Apple and Rain, The Weight of Water, and Breathe) spoke first about her own writing experiences and tips.

On voice, Sarah said that for YA novels, the voice needs to be immediate, and so she writes in first person, present. She also used several examples to show that the first pages of many novels either have lots of blank spaces, or use lots of questions or question marks as a good way to get into the story. The tone too should be informal, relaxed.

Of course, Sarah pointed out, that all these rules are made to be broken! 

One of the things that stood out to me however and really resonated, was the idea that all the ugly experiences we have give us unique voices, but these experiences have to be put onto something else (if that makes sense).
Sarah also suggested that teenager's voices are often unreliable, just because they don't know any different.

On story, Sarah said that you must remember that concept and story are very different. The characters need to grow throughout the story and get to a better place by the end.
Another thing that really resonated, was that the things that REALLY matter to teens are often the little things that we don't worry about anymore. The small things, which feel huge at the time.

Julia Churchill spoke after Sarah and gave some more general tips on submissions and the submission process. Julia said that she looks for SIX things in submissions:


Those were some of the highlights from the night! It really was a very inspiring night and filled with me lots of ideas, inspiration, and a new clarity - making me determined to get very focused again!

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