Monday August 3, Loony Literate
Tuesday August 4, Diva Booknerd
Wednesday August 5, Fictional Thoughts
Thursday August 6, Imaginary Misadventure
Friday August 7, Book Much
Saturday August 8, Genie in a Book
Today, I’ve got a special guest post from Non Pratt, author of Remix, to share some tips for teen writers.
First, let me tell you a bit about Remix.
Basically? It’s about music and friendship.
Ruby and Kaz are pretty great characters, and Ruby is SO funny. That was what I most loved about it – the humour. There were things I didn’t like – it’s dual-POV (and it’s rare that I find one I like) and not a lot happens, but I LOVED the friendship.
Because I’m always rabbiting on about friendship and I think it’s really important in YA. So it gets points for that.
And now it’s over to Non Pratt! (I’m going to intersperse her answers with pictures of Remix because I can)
I started writing my first novel when I was fourteen. It was tanking down with rain and I was supposed to be indoors, revising… instead I was outside, standing in the rain until I was soaked to the skin through my clothes. Back inside, my wet clothes dumped in the empty bathtub and with nothing more than a towel wrapped round me, my hair still dripping, I started writing a book about four friends who had nothing in common other than a love of the rain.
That is not the book that got published, but it is the book that gave me the fever for writing – and I haven’t stopped since. So… here are my tips for any other writers starting out in their teens.
1: Be patient
One reason I write about teenagers is because I remember what it was like to be one – and something I recall vividly is the feeling that everything must happen now. Time is accelerating away into the distance and you feel a burning need to make your mark in the present so there’s something to see later, once it has turned into the past. Well, if Non-of-now could tell Non-of-the-long-distant-past anything, it would be, “Don’t panic.” Time is your friend, not your enemy. Some people might find their voice immediately, but for me, it took time to become a writer of things worth reading. Age really is just a number, but time is a measure of experience and that’s rarely a bad thing.
2: Check your language
Most of the writing you’re likely to have done is for school: analytical essays; creative exercises on a theme; formal reports or assignments. All weighed and measured according to teachers working to a curriculum. The type of writing valued by the education system is not necessarily the type of writing valued by people reading for pleasure. Readers (especially younger ones) value clarity, pace and realistic dialogue. They don’t mind swearing, or jokes, or short sentences lacking in similes. They don’t mind of you describe someone as ‘short’ instead of ‘diminutive in stature’. Relax the rules when you write your stories. No one is going to mark them out of ten and wiggly underline a sentence starting with, ‘And…’
3: Step outside your own experience
This is the hardest challenge a young writer faces compared to an older one. My story about those friends in the rain reflected my own limited experience… by which I mean every character was white, from the main ones to the supporting cast, even the extras in the crowd. It wasn’t intentional, but when you start out writing, you default to the familiar (even if your story is set in a fantasy world). As you get older, you experience more, you hear more and your default settings expand without you noticing (at least they damn well should). As a young writer, you have to make a conscious effort to represent widely – across gender, ethnicity, sexuality and ability. It’s not hard to do, you just need to know about it.
4: Write however you want
There are no rules. Every writer finds the way that works for them. Secret smutty fan fic. Serial posting on Wattpad. NaNoWriMo. Journals and notebooks crammed with handwriting. 300 words a day. Whatever. So long as you’re happy with what you’re creating, it doesn’t matter how it gets done. Do not feel guilty if you leave it for a day/week/month. Do not feel shame because people don’t take your favourite form seriously (shame on them, not you). Do not feel a pressure to share a word until you’re ready, if ever. Writing should make you feel better, not worse.
5: Write for love not glory
Write because you want to write, not because you want to get published. The best books come from the heart… and only the best books get published.
Some EXCELLENT tips, of course. I would add 6. Chocolate.
Thanks so much to Non Pratt for sharing her pearls of wisdom. A big thanks also to Walker Books Australia for the review copy!
From the author of Trouble comes a new novel about boys, bands and best mates.
Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life… Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.
Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.
Any writing tips you’d like to share? Oh, and I have more questions!! Favourite YA friendship books? What about YA books with MUSIC? Give me allllll the recommendations.