Today we end the Word from a Crit Chick series with the fifth girl in my beloved critique group. This awesome fifth girl, Leah Crichton, has recently joined our group and brought in a different perspective, since she writes girly YA. I hope you enjoyed meeting my girls. And I hope you'll keep coming back for more, because Women's Fiction Month is far from over! So, last but not least, let's hear from Leah Crichton!
Leah resides near the Canadian Rockies with her husband, three children and two pets. With a teacher for a mother and a teacher/writer for a father, she had two choices: succeed or die trying. She began writing at an early age and continued to do so into adulthood. By day she works in the GIS field, but at night she dives head first into the different places created inside her mind because a lot of interesting people live there. Her family is her first passion, followed closely by a love of both writing and photography. Her YA debut novel “Amaranthine” will be released in November of 2010 by Parallel Worlds, an imprint of Canonbridge LLC. You can learn more about Leah on her website, or follow her on Twitter.
MY YA FICTION ADDICTION
My name is Leah. I am a YA Fiction addict. There. I said it. I am not ashamed!
YA wasn’t something I set out to write. In fact, I set out to write the type of books I read most of the time. To be the author of some fabulously witty, light-hearted, humorous, romantic adventure was going to be my greatest accomplishment in life.
There was one very big problem.
I was terrible.
And no, not just “oh, well this needs a little tweak here and some tightening here and it should be fine.” Nope, I’m talking gouge-your-eyeballs-out-with-a-spoon-before-reading-anymore-because-the-experienece-will-be-less-painful kind of bad. Even bigger problem was, I KNEW it was bad. My old computer which gathers dust in the basement is home to at least eight attempts at chick-lit manuscripts, all complete and total disasters. So, what did I do when the going got tough? I abandoned my dream, tucked it away in my never speak of this again bag, and got on with life. Or, at least I tried to.
Fast forward a couple of years, I was plugging away at work listening to music on my iPod when two songs played back to back igniting a spark in my brain that was unrelenting. It was the perfect idea for a story, but the catch was I needed the protagonist to be a teen girl.
And so began my obsession with YA. I entered into a world where absolutely anything was possible, nothing was what it seemed, and I found myself consumed. If I was going to write it, I needed familiarize myself with the genre. What did I know about being a teenager? I was one. Once. And I have one. Almost. It is easy for me to look at my daughter, point my finger and say “you are being way too dramatic about this.” As a mother, not always a lot of fun, but as a writer, the drama is swoon-worthy.
The teen years are such a fragile place to be. Emotions rule everything. Happiness, anger, love, hate, lust are felt with such intensity, such passion, that to not become totally wrapped up in them when you’re writing is next to impossible. For me, this makes it very easy to give my characters rich and complex personalities. I love them or loathe them, I cheer them on or wish to see their impending demise. And this is why I love YA so much, I feel every word I put down on paper.
The world of YA is not for everyone. Writing style is as personal as picking your hairstyle or choosing your clothes. But I learned not to rule out something I wouldn’t have ever thought to try because in the end I found what I love to write, more importantly, what I write well. And that, dear friends, is just about all I can ask for!
-Great post, isn't it? Are you getting a YA itch already? Wondering if it's the right path for you? Well, if you're not sure what you're writing is YA, here are some tips from Leah.
Characteristics of YA Fiction, by Leah Crichton:
~ YA is typically targeted to a 12 – 18 year old demographic.
~ The protagonist is adolescent.
~ The story is almost always told in first person.
~ Fast moving. Teen readers tend to get bored quickly. There is never a lot of back story or tons of setting details.
~ Because of the fast moving pace, most YA novels are very character driven (this is one of my favorite things about them). Most of the characters are rounded and dynamic. Generally speaking, there are also fewer characters in the story. .
~ The YA genre is constantly pushing the limits of what is considered “socially acceptable” for the age group. It’s edgy and known to address such topics of death or suicide, alcohol or drug use, sex and sexuality.
-Ready? So, go! What is your genre? How did you find it? And do you think girly YA is under the women's fiction umbrella?