Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New WOW course: Writing the Young Adult Novel...

Writer's Digest's Writer's Online Workshops (WOW) is launching a brand new 8-week course on Writing the Young Adult Novel based on our terrific book by K.L. Going, Writing & Selling the YA Novel. Here's some information about what's covered:

The choices you make as an author—choices about character development, setting, conflict, and plot—are going to be driven by the impulses, interests, and issues relating to a YA audience. In this course, we’ll be paying particular attention to how to write with an eye toward a teen audience. Questions we’ll ask ourselves: What kinds of characters are best suited for a YA novel? How can I develop and deepen the conflict of my novel? What are the limitations and possibilities of YA fiction? And, finally, How do I go about publishing and/or marketing a YA book? The various lessons in this book will introduce you to the YA genre and help you apply specific writing strategies to your work in order to turn the kernel of your idea into a publishable and saleable novel.

I've taught a few WOW courses myself and they're a lot of fun. Students get detailed critiques and advice from instructors on their assignment or works in progress as well as getting input from fellow students.

I'll share part of the course lecture. This begins a discussion on techniques for getting to know your character:

Before you pen even a single sentence of your novel, you should know your protagonist (and other main characters) and know him well. Entire books are written on how to well-develop character, and there’s much to consider. Going writes, “consider what truly defines each of your characters. What makes them unique individuals, different from others?”

This advice is excellent. Before you even begin writing your novel, you should write a character bio for each of your main players. Questions to ask: What is your character’s history? Where did she go to school? What is her favorite color? How many family members does she have? What is her biggest fear? What kind of job does she have, if any? What kind of grades does she get in school, and what is her favorite subject? Does she listen to music? Watch TV? Enjoy movies?

You, the writer, should know all of the answers to these questions, even if these answers do not make their way onto your pages. Why? Because the answer to these questions will reveal your character’s fully rounded personality, and it is this personality, the accumulation of all facets of the individual’s life and experiences, that will determine other aspects of your novel, such as how your protagonist responds to particular events before him.

Going’s chapter on character leaves us with a lot to consider, but let’s, for now, focus on four core elements of character: History, Complexity, Appearance, and Plausibility.

This new course on YA writing has two upcoming sessions, starting December 3 and December 31 (just in time for those writing resolutions).

4 comments:

Emily Wing Smith said...

Sounds like a great course! I'll spread the word.

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