FYCD Does Dragon*Con: Day 1
Hey there Developers! I won’t be getting to the Con until later tonight (around 8 or 8:30) but since that’s a little bit later in the evening, my group doesn’t have much planned other than getting tickets, so I’ll probably be completely free to chat if you spot me!
I’ll be wearing a tan Attack on Titan t-shirt (title on the front, scouting legion symbol on the back) and jean shorts if you spot me around.
Hope to see some of you all soon!
As I’ve been going through the intern slush, I’ve noticed that many times, when I recommend a rejection, it’s largely because of voice. Voice, to me, is one of the most important elements in a novel, because if it’s wrong on the first page, it’s usually wrong throughout the whole manuscript.
Being that I read a lot of YA submissions, this post is largely centered on voice-related problems I frequently see with YA submissions. But many of these issues can also apply to NA by looking at the points with a slightly older cast in mind.
YA Voice Red Flags:
- Lack of contractions. This can actually be a problem in any category, but it’s especially important in YA manuscripts—a voice without any contractions always sounds stiff. This is one of the easiest (and often one of the first) voice-related red flags I pick out. Why? Because we speak and think with contractions, so when they’re absent, the writing becomes stilted and loses a great deal of flow, making it extraordinarily easy to pick it out. “I am not feeling well so I can not go,” for example, doesn’t sound nearly as fluid as, “I’m not feeling well so I can’t go.” Agreed? Good.
- Outdated slang. If you’re writing YA, you need to be current with the language—no exceptions. For examples, teenagers today don’t really say “talk to the hand” or “phat” or “what’s the 411” anymore. (Note: those weren’t taken from actual submissions, I’m just giving outdated examples). Outdated slang, to me, is an enormous red flag and tells me the writer isn’t reading enough YA.
- Forced (current) slang. This is an equally problematic, but harder to spot problem. Sometimes I see submissions that use current slang, but the waythey use it feels…off. This is a little harder to describe, but the easiest way to ferret them out of your manuscript is to have critique partners and/or beta readers who are up to date with the current slang read your manuscript.
- Corny curse substitutions. This is a biggie. While not all teenagers curse, many of them do—and when they don’t, they don’t often use corny substitutions. “Frickin’” for example, could work as a substitution for a particular four-letter word, but “french fries” probably won’t.
Note: UNLESS your character makes a point of being corny, or it fits with your voice. I won’t say this never works (because I’m sure there’s a book out there that can make it happen), but to be honest, I’ve yet to see it work successfully with exception to “D’Arvit” in Artemis Fowl, which mostly worked because it wasn’t corny—it was a made up gnomish word.
- Teenager stereotypes. This is huge. When I see teenager stereotypes blended into the voice or the characters, it almost always puts me off. Teenagers are not a sum of their stereotypes, and relying on them in your writing, quite frankly, is lazy. You can do better–and teenagers deserve better.
- Listen to teenagers talk. A lot. Don’t have a teenager in your life? That’s fine—watch YA-centered TV shows and movies. They tend to feature teenagers who are effortlessly up to date with current slang, references, etc. Or go to your local mall and do a little (subtle) eavesdropping. Yes, really. It’s research.
- Read YA. By and large, the YA that’s published today (especially if it’s relatively recent) have great examples of successful YA voices. Read them. Learn from them. Write your own. (This step by the way? Not optional if you’re writing YA).
- Get critique partners. This is so ridiculously important—make sure you have beta readers and critique partners look at your work. I personally recommend having several rounds of betas and CPs, so you can see if the changes you made in the first round, for example, were as effective as you hoped.
Would you add anything to either list? Unmentioned problems? Solutions?
FYCD Does DragonCon- Update!
Hey there, Developers! Unfortunately, I will not be able to get the prompt books together in time, as I am still working on cosplays and sorting out how and when I’m getting to the con and working on schoolwork.
However, I will take index cards, and in my spare time I’ll try and write some prompts to give out to any of you who want them- and like i said, if I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere, please feel free to stop and chat with me! I’ll try my best to answer any questions you have.
Tentatively, my schedule is that I’ll be at the con Friday evening just kind of milling around, not sure what I’ll be wearing yet. Saturday I’ll be dressed as Disney’s Jafar, possibly traveling around with Wreck-It-Ralph. Sunday I’ll be dressed as Medusa (from Soul Eater) and walking around with a Stein (also from Soul Eater) cosplayer. Monday is looking to be another chill-ish day, I’ll likely be wearing a Captain America t-shirt with a homemade Winter Soldier arm.
Not entirely sure what panels I’ll be at, though I definitely want to hit up a few of the Writing panels, and I’ll be at the bethrevis autograph session unless something awful happens and I can’t make it.
Feel free to leave any comments on this post or message me on my personal blog!
If you have a book that you want to write, just write the damn thing. Don’t worry about selling it; that comes later. Instead, worry about making your book good. Worry about the best way to order your scenes to create maximum tension, worry about if your character’s actions are actually in character; worry about your grammar. DON’T worry about which of your stylistic choices some potential future editor will use to reject you, and for the love of My Little Ponies don’t worry about trends. Trying to catching a trend is like trying to catch a falling knife—dangerous, foolhardy, and often ending in tears, usually yours.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to what’s getting published; keeping an eye on what’s going on in your market is part of being a smart and savvy writer. But remember that every book you see hitting the shelves today was sold over a year ago, maybe two. Even if you do hit a trend, there’s no guarantee the world won’t be totally different by the time that book comes out. The only certainty you have is your own enthusiasm and love for your work. …
If your YA urban fantasy features fairies, vampires, and selkies and you decide halfway through that the vampires are over-complicating the plot, that is an appropriate time to ax the bloodsuckers. If you decide to cut them because you’re worried there are too many vampire books out right now, then you are betraying yourself, your dreams, and your art.
If you’re like pretty much every other author in the world, you became a writer because you had stories you wanted to tell. Those are your stories, and no one can tell them better than you can. So write your stories, and then edit your stories until you have something you can be proud of. Write the stories that excite you, stories you can’t wait to share with the world because they’re just so amazing. If you want to write Murder She Wrote in space with anime-style mecha driven by cats, go for it. Nothing is off limits unless you do it badly.
And if you must obsess over something, obsess over stuff like tension and pacing and creating believable characters. You know, the shit that matters. There are no writing police. This is your story, no one else’s. Tell it like you want to.”
I DONE GOOFED.
TEAM BUILDING IS ON THURSDAY.
Hrrm, that’s a good question. If you’re wanting to make your story feel more intimate, first person would be the way to go, I would think.
Followers, what do you think?
HELP PEN OUT?
HELLO ALL YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE.
Do you guys have any suggestions for books about literary criticism or story structure?
THINKING ABOUT EXPANDING MY LIBRARY AND THOUGHT I’D CONSULT WITH YOU GUYS FIRST. REPLY TO THE POST IF YOU WANNA LEMME KNOW.
PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
If you’re looking for a book on the subject, The Ethical Slut is a great place to start.
There’s also a great podcast called Polyamory Weekly that discuses various aspects of poly.
The website Modern Poly seems like it has some good information, although I’ve never used it before.
Hope that helps!
Your supervillain has decided to call it quits and invites your hero over for a farewell party. Halfway through the party, the supervillain’s sidekick appears and takes everyone hostage. What happens next?