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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Top Secret YA Formula

Itching to write a Young Adult novel? Want your name to be tacked onto the list of authors who have risen to YA novel stardom? Do you, too, want to join the legions of others who have become a New York No. 1 Bestselling author?

I’m hearing a resounding yes. Here, my YA inclined friend, are some sure-fire ways to achieve the fame and glory for which you yearn.

Make Sure Your Character is Unique (But Not Too Unique)

Your YA protagonist should grab the reader’s attention from page one. They should be different, unique, special. Like a snowflake! But not too different! You want them to be relatable, of course. An average, middle-class kid that everyone will love. After all, all your readers will be average middle-class kids, too. But remember to add that unique touch, too! Give them a quirky edge. Make them a reader. Reading’s totally unique. Oh, and make their favourite band The Smiths. It’ll show they’re deep. If your protagonist is a girl, make sure to mention she’s not like other girls. Other girls are never YA protagonists.

Parental Involvement Should Be Minimal (Or Nil. Even Better.)

Ok, so in reality teens can’t get up to much without their parents or guardians wanting to know about it, or somehow getting wind of it. But we can all agree that’s pretty boring right? Parents? Pfft! What kind of influence would they have on kids? That’s right, zero. And your book should reflect that. Reality is so not the priority here, people. Why would the parental figures show any interest in whatever paranormal/extraterrestrial/fantastical/bestial adventures your protagonist is getting involved in? Relegate them to the background as much as possible.

Love Triangles Are EVERYTHING

Does your protagonist have a love interest yet? If not, why not? Inject your story with that extra oomph! Oh sure, most newly fledged adolescents are unlikely to have beamed in on their Significant Other, and are more involved with the Twitter accounts of their celeb crushes, but we aren’t going to let small things like realism get in the way. No, sir! In fact, to make your love story even more memorable, add another potential love interest in there. Go on, do it! You will not regret it, and neither will your readers. They might be expecting one love interest, but two will really bowl them over. The YA soup could definitely use a dolloping more of love triangles. Why bother thinking outside the box when it’s so much easier to stay put in the cosy love triangle?

Diversity is Tres Chic

It’s totally the PC thing now to have all the POC, or PoC. Whatever, the acronym’s not important. What’s important is that you get. In. On! This! Trend! Does your protagonist have a Black/Chinese/Indian/Another Race That’ll Show You’re Inclusive friend? If not, just give them a make-over! Internationalize it up! Give them overly strict parents, relatives with accents stronger than Hercules, and a name that sounds convincing enough to be from whatever exciting, exotic ethnicity you’ve chosen to go with. Don’t bother with research! Remember, realism is not what we’re going for here. There’s already so much information to go on – after all, stereotypes stem from truth, right?

And now, dear budding YA author, you are set! Four sure-fire ways to get your work of art depicting the adolescent experience that ISBN number it deserves. Publishers will be clamouring at your Twitter handle! Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Faustina Paustin


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