The fault in our stars, looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Mocking Jay, The Maze Runner, Perks of being a wallflower and the list goes on and on and on! This era is the Young Adult Era where the all the more rare genre became the pepping hot genre of the global literature which includes Indian literature as well.
There are writers and authors I know who are gifted with the capability of jumping across genres and succeeding in every trial. There are a few who would choose to write a novel in the genre of the year. If you’re that, here is what you need to write a Young Adult Fiction.
Here is the good news! Young adult is more of a target audience defined and the marketing strategies are also defined.
You can write a story so flexible where it is more like a thriller in which you can add elements of horror or fantasy or romance as per your choice.
Even adults these days read young adult fiction, as it is more like rewinding what is history!
So the age group of your audience is 9 years to 17 years or more.
If you have a plot in mind, and you want to flesh it out as a young adult fiction, here is what you need to concentrate on:
Generally, the protagonist is a young person falling under 15-18 year old
Use first person narrative
Pepper teen language throughout; don’t use sophisticated words that look bizarre. This also depends on the world building – a story based in the US will have a different language than a story based in a small interior town in India
Usually younger generation is well-known for the drama; they are usually narrow-minded and think of extremes so ensure that you use exaggeration. Even a forgotten record note would make them panic, if they fail in exams they would probably plan to run away from home. Use this properly!
The conversations need not be crispy and straight on face like those in Agatha Christie books. They usually speak with less or no analogies and use long sentences; they plead and fight a lot. Tap conversations, they are confidence in what they are and just do what they feel like doing – you can’t convince them, so tap immature talks and stubbornness.
Understand the hormones, and emphasis their keen nature – teens are very keen about things – right from sex to science. Add meat!
Hope that helps! Ensure that there is a vast different between Adult fiction and young adult fiction, research well, and pen down.
X-rated or Erotica – one genre that is difficult to pen, there are chances that you write excellently well or just go so blunt that you wrote the worst piece ever that would totally shame you.
I am so conscious about this, because, my next flick is a contemporary romance with a bit of erotica playing around. Hence, I started reading good number of books that fall under contemporary, erotica, X-rated, etc… This gave a clear distinction of what a good erotica is from the bad, firstly, Indian writers fail in diction more often than not. They write screw worthy words instead of right kinky stuff. Erotica gives you the liberty to pen explicit content and 18+ details but nevertheless, you are not destined to write something creepy.
Here is what you should know if you are writing Erotica or have it subtly playing its part in the novel.
One best writer who scooped me off with Erotica is Heather M Miles. Extremely well-written erotica which is even better than fifty shades of grey according to me, X-rated is one genre that is seldom picked in Indian Writing Arena, or, rather people would don’t want the tag and stuff the patty to call it a romance burger.
Writing sex scenes are pretty much same alike other scenes, but, you have to write it with extreme caution because sex scenes are going to paint the scene and the reader should rather feel good (Aroused – the best) but never ever screw their face saying ‘Ewwww!’ you get that? Please play around words that would make one feel better. Research enough, or rather write subtle than to use details but please don’t use euphemisms that are laugh worthy.
You need not write every minute detail of the scene, don’t start off with him pushing her on the wall to the final dressing part, your readers are well-sex educated, and you need not teach them stuff. Write enough but don’t flesh out that would make the reader feel bad about reading it. Bear in mind – sex scenes are never skimmed but read word by word, so this is where you have ultimate control over your reader and you can use this time to show how good a writer you are.
Don’t make a normal guy – a super gigolo type or a college girl like a strip tease performer all of a sudden. Give them the right details; sculpt them enough if you’re going to use it as such.
Rather, best is to write down your fantasy. Sex scenes or erotica novels are supposed to turn the reader on; else, you have failed big time.
When writing it down, keep off the thoughts that you’re family is about to read this and feel terribly bad about you, which happens in most cases though! I am lucky, that my parents don’t read my book.
One of the terrible problems when you are working on a novel idea is a writer’s block where you literally find it extremely difficult to continue writing. This is more of a stress or a burden, if you have a deadline either by your publishers or by yourself because most of us are not full time writers given the investment and returns from writing.
Writing needs extreme discipline, it is just like dieting, you can’t just eat all you want and expect to lose weight. You have to surrender yourself and work enough concentrating on losing weight. Likewise, with writing, I know a friend of mine who typically sits like a robot at 11:00 PM and types away till 12 and I am of a type, who can ONLY write in the night when all are asleep. So, if you have a disciplined scheduled for writing – chances are that you seldom fall under this block.
Also, it is important to keep off distractions when writing. Many authors turn off internet, switch off their phone, lock themselves in a room or even travel across with their laptop in a cottage to type away their story.
There are many options like Artist’s way where you write 750 words early morning like a task, which will help you from falling apart.
Once you sense the writer’s block there are common things that you can try, first is to try something else – like painting or photography that are of interest other than writing.
You can use this dreading time to read, if you don’t have other hobbies than writing, eventually, helping you more in honing your skills.
I usually have the habit of traveling – I treat myself with a trip to a place that would keep me off from thinking anything else. I would mostly come back with a refreshed mind to write more, with a story-line or a plot idea, sometimes! So choose travel.
Else, take prompts from your friends or surf online, pick some plot and write a really short story on it. Try to flesh out a short story you read, or try to write a short story on the novel you read. So, basically, you’ll be writing something totally different from what you have ever written!
Take a break – even if you’re not in writer’s block, it helps you to be a better writer.
Vanity publishing – this is something I have discussed a lot about and I detailed reasons as to why one should NOT choose to vanity publish one’s work.
Here are my points that summarizes when one can choose to vanity publish
Vanity publishing is when the author pays upfront money to the publisher that usually ranges from 25,000 INR to 3 Lakhs as per the package the author selects.
Time = Money, once you choose to vanity publish, you need not do anything except to submit your final manuscript and pay the cash. All other things will be taken care by the publisher, all you have to do is to just approve.
You can choose to vanity publish when:
Please note: By now, you would have send your manuscript to many publishers who traditionally publish but failed miserably, yet you trust your script much and you still want the book to be released. Fair enough! So now go ahead!
Royalty – In traditional you would not make more than 20-30 INR per book, with vanity, you get around 50 INR
Transparency – You get to know the count of book sold at ease, they are mostly very transparent. In vanity publishing, the publishers help you with a consultant who will readily hear you and do as per your say, so you need not work on anything at all. Your book sales, your promotions, author copies, etc.. are accessible in just one click
Quality – There are publishers who cost cut and publish books that are of bad quality. Books that are shrunk to fit the page, font size, the font, etc.. make it difficult to read. In Vanity, you get the best quality. Paper quality, cover quality, font size, page nation, etc.. are done properly to fit the market standards
Distribution – Your book will be distributed online fairly well, the book will never go out of stock. There are vanity publishing companies that also do offline distribution if the books do well in the market.
If your manuscript gets rejected by traditional publishers but you still trust your script or if you have money than time or if you want better quality of books than those published by second tier or hybrid publishers or if you want your book to be priced reasonably less (self-published books cost more than traditionally published books) – go for vanity! Take a call!
One important aspect of writing is the use of figure of speech, something we seldom do. Having read enough Indian author books – There are a few who use it extremely well and there are a few who just don’t know what it is. I know pals who write novels that sounds like reading information at Wikipedia. So here is one of the less explored areas – understatement.
You write less but it is deeper enough for the reader to understand a lot from it. There are many micro tales and harsh realities post of mine that gets comments that they are deep. Those stories are pretty much lesser than 40 words, this is the role of understatement.
Overstatement is just the opposite of understatement where everything in detailed manner, a reader would eventually just skim through and not read properly when overstatement is used. Ensure you use overstatement only when it is relevant.
You can try writing a scene using both overstatement and understatement to understand the difference that it makes, the less you write, the more careful you are about using words that are very deep and you move on easily.
Don’t use overstatement unless it is poetic, or beautiful. Use frequently used idioms, or figure of speech to convey. Use terms like “Days rolled” or “After a few years” to change timeline and use the mood you have previously created to subtly say what would have happened in between.
Here is an example of understatement from my own kitty!
Most of us think plot and story line is the same thing. Or, we just elaborate the same thing in different ways. If they are one and the same, why two different terms though? Yes! They are different.
Plot – Main Events of the novel arranged in a manner such that it has twists and turns, with tinge of drama or emotions or thrill.
Story line – Chronological order of what the novel is all about.
To put them simply, plot is watching the movie and story line is your friend narrating the 3 hour movie in 3 minutes revealing all the twists well in advance. Thank me later 😉
Baby steps of plotting
Define your protagonist, and add meat as of his reactions to every frigging thing that he or she would cross in the novel. Note all the directions possible with respect to the travel.
Take your character through twists, turns, and new developments to reach the final stage of the novel
When plotting – tighten the scenes adding more details, the character traits, engage more and add more thrill because only you know what happens next, not the reader. Don’t let them guess! – What’s the fun? 😉
How do we plot?
Have a clear motivation of what you want to convey in this novel. Structure it out. Add more sub-plots which adds more meat to the story.
X and Y get married in the end – Plot
X went through a bad relationship before
Y was skeptical to propose for long
X waits for Y to propose
When creating sub-plots, it is almost like diving chapters and hence, ensure to do the following.
Readers should feel the urge to flip the page – when do they feel it? When there is something out there to figure out.
Play a guessing game with your reader – give them food to think
Add suspense elements and add a mild action that would be seldom noticed, but makes sense in the end
Meaty reactions by characters
Don’t get lost in the middle – don’t add extra meat to add pages – write what’s required
There are numerous worksheets available online for plotting and there are pretty good number of online courses, resources, that would help one to plot better! If you find it difficult to plot, try books on plot prompts for the same.
More often, we start our novels from a small spark and keep it growing. Sometimes, it gets clumsy and the end product would be something totally different from what we expected. It is not wrong, but maybe, if you try properly outlining the novel, it would be of great help to not just finish the novel but finish on time because you know what you’re writing. I did this clumsy mistake of starting at a point and not knowing the travel of the story with my first novel, but with my second WIP, I have improved a lot on this.
So, let’s outline – the silver line of the cloud! Let’s do it.
One best way to outline is using the snowflake method. I have covered it in methods of writing! Check out!
Or use the Freytag’s Pyramid – jot down the one-liners that would cover under each part of it.
Even if you’re a panster – if you work on outlining, it would help you overcome the writer’s block. Trust me! It works. Anyhow, the outlines are just as flexible as ever, to alter according to the flow.
Things to ponder and write down first:
Write down the important characters
Pen the important scenes that you want to cover – there are times that we have a scene in mind than the actual story plots. So put them down.
Chapters – divide them into chapters, and divide the meat accordingly. Figure out ‘what’ you’ll cover ‘where’ this will avoid any spill at all
Also, tunnel them. Divide your sheets and pen down the different tunnels or paths you have in mind and let the story choose the road to travel to complete the maze
Doing this will help you find loopholes, blunder mistakes, research requirements, and there are thin chances to discover a new plot or a sequel plot.
A person who outlines their novel will be curious and interested, this would make them write faster and publish sooner than usual or planned. You can use mind mapping or sticky note mapping.
Software like Scrivener helps a lot in outlining, you can also do the same in an excel sheet or a word document at ease.
I have outlined my next novel and it is coming up really well! And am so thrilled about it as it falls under dual timeline and is a different take and leaps beyond my capacity.
Quickly open an excel sheet and start outlining! See ya!
Narrative – an important factor that can either take your novel to an all new level or just move it to trash. For literary is such an ocean where all stories are already taken, the one best way to make your novel interesting is the choice of narrative. So, let’s sneak peak at the choices you have w.r.t narratives.
I will start with my favorite form – Nonlinear Narrative, best used for thrillers. It gives a nice platform for you to change the patterns of the events to make your novel a very interesting one than chronological. It gives more space to add twists and turns that can make your novel an unputdownable. It is almost a time travel for the readers, and so, authors can very well choose this sort of narration.
Linear narrative – As simple as a line from the start to end without any change from A to Z, which might not really impress the readers if the story is simple and breezy. If your story has a good tension throughout and interesting factors, linear might suit it best.
First person narrative – Usually, the protagonist or someone else who is a part of the story narrates it to the reader from their point of view. So the reader would be an observer of the interactions happening between the story teller and others.
Third person narrative – An omnipresent character will read out the story from a third person point of view, which can typically be an easy way to cover more details of what each character feels like unlike the first person narrative.
Unreliable narrator – This is an interesting one. You can never rely on the narrator, where things are not trustworthy. A character’s narration that is not reliable makes it fascinating!
Interactive narrative – This is an interesting type of narration where the reader and writer would interact. The story will be dynamic, and will have personalized engagement. Social dialogues will be used throughout to engage the reader. There are different patterns to it to choose from.
Multiple Ending – While the whole story is in the author’s control, the ending is according to the reader. You give branching paths from a story, and let the reader to choose the one that they like. It is important to ensure all the endings suit the best and are equally good.
Open ending – You handle the whole story and never give a closure, more like life. It never ends until you die, and every story that started ends in a small cliff that re-directs to another.
“I have written a good book, many of my friends who read told it is great, the Amazon score touched top 20 in a week, and Goodreads review states 4.0 to 4.5-star rating. Still my book has not reached many, it is not selling well, I don’t know why,” heard this somewhere? Yes! It was your mind talking to your heart or vice versa. Rather, it can also be said to a very close friend who is more like an alter ego.
Before you go through what good marketing is, first understand what marketing scam is.
There is one good method of marketing that out beats all other ways, the one that never costs you a penny, the one that is so traditional and works from day one that the literary world started mushrooming books – well what is it? – Word of Mouth
Yes! There is nothing like a book recommended by a person to another. So, what it takes for one to recommend a book? – Simple, a good book. So the solution – write a good book!
Ok! I see ‘hehhh?’ Smiley there. Fine!
My personal experience with marketing – I kept writing. Better writing. Day by day, it was improving, not that it was just felt by me but all others too. From writing simple love stories to harsh realities, to short poems, and ranting tales, where it started off to convince my conscience that I am a good writer, in turn, it did prove to my friends and acquaintances that I am improving big time. Whenever someone randomly pings asking when my book is scheduled to release, and they are eager to invest 200-250 INR + Shipping to read it, not that one can’t afford 250, it is just half the prize of a big pizza or a cold coffee at CCD. But, this counts, how many just buys a book for the sake of it? Until you’ve proved a point or an author whose name is well-known to the world? Especially, when your book is costlier than Sidney Sheldon or Dan Brown or Nora Roberts, so, here is the tip – keep writing! Keep your circle informed that you are improving with posts and short snippets from your WIP. Micro tales, terribly tiny tales – because none has the time to click open your blog post or rather they are on mobile with a 2G connection. None likes to scroll and read, you only have a few seconds to grab their attention. Do your best!
Create elevator pitches and loglines from your novel and share it across. Kindle the interest and leave questions for your readers to ponder and get to fetch a copy of your book.
Is that all? Yes!
The best type of marketing is writing a good book, proving to the world that you are a good writer and investing money on your book will never make them regret. If you still think these are not the right ways to market – there are links available with 71 ways to market your book and 89+ book marketing ideas available. Google them! All the best
There are ways of publishing a novel, and one such proper method is traditional publishing where you approach a publisher with your synopsis and 2 chapters, and they get back to you in a few months, if they are interested. The gap between the writer and the publisher is huge, and hence, to bridge the gap – the literary agency entered the stream.
Usually, when you mail your manuscript to your publisher, it falls under more than a thousand manuscript piled up. If you go through a literary agent, they would validate your manuscript and land it to the editors of the publishers which surpass the first bar that the manuscript is worth publishing.
This literary agency is something that properly works in the US and other countries, whereas in India, recently, it is mushrooming with proper roots. The literary agents push your manuscript and you in turn pay them a small percentage of your royalty in general, which means, you need not pay any money upfront.
There are publishers who don’t take any submissions that are sent directly by writers at all, and demand only literary agents to approach, one such is harper Collins India. The website has the list of approved Literary agents through which there are fair chances that your novel would get published for sure.
In South Asia – http://www.writersside.com/ is the number one literary agent. The other well known literary agents are the red ink, Sherna Khambatta, purple folio, the book bakers, and there are a few emerging now.
How to approach a literary agent?
Edit your novel to perfection, get enough feedback from friends and editors before sending it across
Research well on the publishers who would publish the genre that your book fall under, and accordingly, approach the agent
Generic format: 12 point font, double space, decent font like times new roman or courier new
How to become a good literary agent?
You should know in and out of publishing a book, marketing it, distributing it, etc..
Have great contacts in the industry right from editors of the publishing industry to the publishers, book shops, distributors, aggregators, etc..
Know the current trends of the industry
Have good knowledge on the contract details between the author and the publisher
Have great passion about books
It is not easy to become a lit agent without enough knowledge about it. And, Authors, please bear in mind, do not pay upfront money!