Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Laurie Faria Stolarz’

Beginning A Story: 10 Things To Consider, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

1. What does your character need or want?  Why does he or she need or want it?

2. What is the conflict?  What prevents your character from getting what they need or want?

3. What about your character’s personality is going to make it difficult to get what he they need or want?

4. How will your character grow?  What will they learn as a result of this journey?  Once your character learns this, will they be able to get what they want?

5. What point of view will best serve the story and why?

6. What tense makes the most sense for your story?

7. Don’t take the word “beginning” too literally.  Begin in the middle of things.

8. Avoid lengthy explanations as to how your character got to this point in their life.  Yes, your characters have a past, but that past will become evident through dialogue, action and the choices the characters make, not necessarily through lengthy explanation.

9. You need to hook the reader’s attention from the very beginning.

10. Have fun!  It’s okay not to know everything about your novel before you begin it.  Chances are you’ll discover plenty along the way.  Remember the old adage: “the art of writing is rewriting”.

***

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little GamesDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)     GenesisHappyface

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Young Adult Novels Versus Adult Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Opinions range widely on this topic of young adult novels versus adult novels. Some believe that certain subjects are simply off limits in young adult literature. That may have been the case in years past, but more and more young adult literature is crossing into what some may consider to be adult and/or controversial material: four-letter words, drugs and drinking, sex and sexuality, religion… you name it. There aren’t many topics that you can’t find in young adult literature these days. So, then circling back to the question: What’s the difference between adult and young adult literature?

The easy answer to that question is that young adult literature has young adult characters. Teen characters are very present in teen books. Makes sense, right? Teens want to read about people their age.

The more complicated answer concerns the way in which “controversial” topics are covered. In young adult fiction, for example, the main character usually comes full circle as a result of overcoming obstacles and learning a lesson – one that often involves one or more “adult” issues. In adult literature, on the other hand, there isn’t as much of a need – if any need at all – for the main character to have learned such a lesson. The adult character does not necessarily need to have grown by the end, nor does he or she need to have solved his problem. The writer doesn’t have to address or even acknowledge the “controversial” issue. In other words, there isn’t as much of an overriding “moral to the story” as one might see in young adult material.

When I wrote my novel Bleed (Disney/Hyperion 2006), there was no doubt in my mind that I was writing it for adults. I’d just written a couple of books in the Blue Is For Nightmares series and I wanted to try something new, exploring edgier topics without censoring myself in any way, including the liberal use of the four-letter words and controversial topics. But by the time I went to sell it the young adult market had opened so much that Bleed was published for young adults.

Bleed is told from ten different points of view – all young adult characters. I really wanted to explore how the decisions we make everyday, even the smaller ones, can affect others in ways we may never even consider. The decision whether or not to pick up the phone or let the machine get it; the decision of walking to someone’s house versus taking the bus; or of taking a walk by a cemetery rather than at the beach - how the outcome of those decisions can have a domino effect, affecting other people’s lives… even the lives of people we may not even know. The book takes place over the course of a single day, and starts out with one girl grappling with the decision of whether or not to betray her best friend by going after her best friend’s boyfriend while the best friend is away. We see how the effect of that decision plays out, affecting all the other characters in the book.

As I was editing Bleed, I spent a great deal of time making sure that while some of the characters’ plights couldn’t possibly be solved in the course of one day, there was a glimmer of light, enabling the characters to see the way out of the holes in which they’d dug for themselves. Each character was able to learn something as a result of his or her decision, which I think is also customary of young adult literature.

***

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

     

United Kingdom (and beyond)

     

Australia (and beyond)

BleedBlue is for NightmaresDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little Games    GlowThe Night She DisappearedHold Me Closer, Necromancer

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

On The Inspiration For My Teen Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

People often ask me what inspires me to write.  The answer is that inspiration comes from all over, especially if you’re open to it: stories you hear about, snippets from the news, a really dishy reality TV show, an argument that you overheard at the local coffee shop, fortune cookie messages, dilemmas without answers, a person you encounter at the supermarket, a situation that occurred at the gym…

The point is that ideas are everywhere.  Pick one that gets your creative juices flowing.  Don’t write about a topic because you think it’s popular or timely.  The market is ever-changing: blood-thirsty vampires today, vegan-loving serial killers tomorrow.  Plus when you consider that once your book gets accepted for publication it’s often a year or more before it comes out, who knows what the market will dictate then.

Here’s how inspiration struck for some of my teen novels:

Blue is for Nightmares

The inspiration:  My readers

I was inspired to write my first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, because I wanted to write a book that would have appealed to me as a young person, namely one that had a blending of suspense, romance, drama, and dark humor.  I wasn’t a big reader as a young person, and so I wanted to get reluctant readers excited about reading.  Blue is for Nightmares was the product.

Bleed

The inspiration: A theme that interested me.

I really wanted to explore how the decisions we make everyday – even the smaller ones – can affect others in ways we may never even consider: the decision whether or not to pick up the phone or let the machine get it; the decision of walking to someone’s house versus taking the bus; or of taking a walk by a cemetery rather than at the beach; and how the outcome of those decisions can have a domino effect, affecting other people’s lives… including the lives of people we may not even know.

The book starts out with one girl (Nicole) grappling with the decision of whether or not to betray her best friend (Kelly) by going after her best friend’s boyfriend (Sean) while the best friend is away. We see how the effect of that decision plays out, affecting all the other characters in the book.

Project 17

The inspiration: A news article.

I sold Bleed in a two-book deal with Disney/Hyperion Books for Children.  Time was ticking and I needed an idea for the second book – fast.  One day when I was flipping through a local newspaper, I came upon an article concerning the controversial teardown of one the nation’s first mental institutions, which was considered  to be a historic landmark – one that was also rumored to be haunted.  I imagined a group of teens breaking in to the hospital on the eve of the demolition to film a movie.  The idea inspired me to write my novel Project 17.

The Touch series

The Inspiration: Past success and my love for series books.

Following the success of my Blue is for Nightmares series, in which my main character is plagued, and then empowered, by her premonitions, I wanted to continue working in the supernatural/paranormal genre.  Like in my Nightmares series, I wanted to explore the idea that we all have our own inner senses and intuition, and how with work we can tap into those senses and make them stronger.  I started researching different types of supernatural powers and discovered the power to sense the past or future through touching objects.  The concept fascinated me, so I wanted to bring it out in a character and show how sometimes even the most extraordinary powers can also be a curse.

In my series, Ben, the new boy at school, is rumored to have accidentally killed his ex-girlfriend.  He ends up completely reclusive as a result, getting home-schooled by tutors and not leaving his house.  Flash forward two years and Ben wants a shot at normal life again, despite his powers.  He enrols at a school a few hours from his hometown, where no one knows him or his past.  Then everything goes awry when he accidentally touches Camelia, the main character, and senses that her life is in danger.

My current work-in-progress

The inspiration: A nightmare I had.

I rarely have nightmares but I had one that felt so real and scared me to bits.  I didn’t talk about it for several days afterward.  When I finally felt able to share it, I told someone who immediately said that it needed to be a book.  I agreed and sold it to my editor last year.  I’m currently working on the draft.

***

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

     

United Kingdom (and beyond)

     

Australia (and beyond)

Blue is for NightmaresBleedProject 17Deadly Little Secret    Tarzan: The Greystoke LegacyAngel DustBlack and White

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Selling Your Teen Novel Manuscript, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Writing an entire novel that’s rich with character and appeal, and that has a clear beginning, middle and ending in which the character grows, facing obstacles along the way, isn’t an easy task. Once this is done, congratulations are in order.

Then it’s time to immerse yourself in the selling market by doing a lot of research.  Go to the new release section of bookstores armed with paper and pen, find books that are like yours, and take note of who wrote them and which publishing houses published them.  Then go home and do a Google search to find the name of the agent and/or editor for those particular books.  Sometimes, you won’t even have to Google; you’ll get lucky and flip to the Acknowledgements page of the book to find that the author has thanked their beloved agent and hardworking editor.

Start to keep a list of these names.  The editors and agents are the people that you should be targeting for your work.  Write an intelligent and presentable one-page query letter that summarizes your book and gives a brief introduction of who you are.

Sound easy?  It isn’t.  It takes patience and a thick skin.  Some people get lucky and get requests for full or partial manuscripts right away.  For most of us, it’s a much longer process – one that requires a sense of humor, a lot of waiting, and hopefully a cheering squad of writer-friends.

I’d recommend sending out batches of query letters, five at a time.  Once a rejection comes back, send out another, keeping a log of names, dates, and responses.  But, again, always do your homework.  Make informed decisions as to whom you’re sending your query.  Know who that person is, what books are on his or her list, who his or her clients are, and what he or she is looking for (if anything at all).

Once you start to get responses you’ll find there are different levels of rejection letters, from the standard form letter to the more personalized ones.  I’ve gotten fortune-cookie sized rejection letters that simply say “No, thank you”, as well as personalized letters that explain why my work wasn’t a good fit at the time.

Try not to take any of it personally.  Sometimes you’ll get a rejection purely because the market is trending in another direction or because a particular editor already has a novel like yours on his or her list.  Just keep working and learning.  When I was trying to sell Blue is for Nightmares I was continuing to write my next manuscript, Bleed, which became my fourth book published.

Personally, my initial path to publication was a rough one.  I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the Young Adult supernatural/paranormal genre).  It took me a long time to sell my first novel.  I have a folder filled with rejection letters – over a hundred. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive Young Adult market.”  That same Young Adult novel, Blue is for Nightmares, has sold over 200,000 copies, been translated into numerous languages and has appeared on many different award lists, not to mention it’s been optioned for a TV series.

So, in addition to doing your homework, my next bit of advice is to persevere.  There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10 or even 50 rejection letters.  Be open to learning and to getting better at your craft.  If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again.  Lastly, consider joining a writers’ group.  There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

***

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little Lessons (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels (Hardcover))Blue is for NightmaresProject 17     VibesSaraswati's WayTracks

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

5 Things Writers Of Teen Novels Should Know, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Here are five things you should know when writing a teen novel:

1. Yourself.  First and foremost, ask yourself why it is you want to write for young adults.  Is it because you have dreams of becoming the next Stephenie Meyer?  Because you see a hole in the market – perhaps it’s a topic that’s near and dear to you – that you’re itching to fill?  Maybe you and/or someone you know experienced something traumatic or triumphant during teenhood – something that serves as the inspiration for your story idea.  Or maybe it’s purely because you love those years of young adulthood and all the drama that ensues.  Whatever the reason or reasons, like any strong, three-dimensional character, it’s helpful to be conscious of your motivation as you’re drafting that book.

2. Your audience.  Read what they read, watch what they watch, eavesdrop on their conversations, and know what’s important to them.  Some have the misconception that writing for young people is easier than writing for adults, but quite the contrary can be true.  Teens are smarter and savvier than ever.  If the work isn’t authentic of those young adult years; if the teens in your book don’t sound like teens or don’t make choices that are authentic of their characters, then your young adult audience will be the first to call you on it.

3. Who’s buying.  Read Publisher’s Lunch, The New York Times, The Writer’s Digest, the Society of Children’s Books Writers & Ilustrators’ The Bulletin, and other trade publications to find out which editors are buying which types of books, and from what authors.  Take note of the genre, the word-count, and the types of characters that are selling to these editors. Also, take note of first-time authors (and which editors are buying from them). See if you can pinpoint any patterns, i.e. an editor who buys a lot of science fiction-type books, or an agent who works with a lot of mystery writers. Keep a log of these findings, particularly with respect to your own work.  Start to generate a list of potential people who might be interested in seeing your book.

4. What’s selling.  Get to know the market. Spend some serious time at bookstores, particularly in the new release section.  What books are coming out?  Which ones are getting a lot of attention?  Can you see the market changing at all? Is it trending toward a particular genre?  Or getting saturated in any one area?  Do you see or can you predict a hole in the market?

5. What’s out there. Read books in the young adult market.  Get to know your librarian; particularly one who’s really knowledgeable about the young adult market.  Librarians can provide a huge resource for aspiring writers.  They can discuss what’s popular in your local area, your region, and nationwide. They can also talk about the holes in the market; after all, they get asked by patrons on a regular basis for recommendations for certain types of books.  Librarians can also recommend really great books for you to read – those that are like the one you’re writing or that are demonstrative of what’s out there in the market. It you want to write for teens, it’s important to be reading what they’re reading and at the same time, learning from other authors, and continuing to keep abreast of the market.

***

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

    

United Kingdom (and beyond)

    

Australia (and beyond)

Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little LiesDeadly Little GamesDeadly Little Voices (a Touch Novel) (Touch Novels)     A Million Suns (Across the Universe)Claude & Camille: A Novel of MonetSpark

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Month In Review with Steve Rossiter (January 2013)

The Writing Teen Novels 2013 line-up was launched on January 1st with a diverse range of novelists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand as monthly contributors. Each monthly contributor now has their first Writing Teen Novels article online.

Thank you to all the contributors, to everyone who has been reading the articles and those who have connected with Writing Historical Novels on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or  Tumblr, or via Novel Writing Quotes on Facebook or Google+.

The purpose of these Month In Review articles is to:

- provide a handy list of links to the articles for the past month, then to

- relate some of the content of these articles to my own novel writing to help novel writers and other interested people discover the month’s content and gain some insights into ways the month’s content can be engaged with in a practical context.

Articles for January 2013

What I Did Wrong And What I Did Right On The Way To Becoming A New York Times Bestselling Novelist by Beth Revis

Some Themes For Teen Novels by Elizabeth Wein

Why I Write Mysteries And Thrillers – And Read Them, Too by April Henry

I Was A Teenage Artist by Stephen Emond

Voice In Teen Novels by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Why I Write For Young Adults by Laurie Faria Stolarz

On Finding Story Ideas by Kate Forsyth

On Story Development by Andy Briggs

Teen Fiction: A Definition? by Bernard Beckett

Getting ‘Great Ideas’ For Novels by Carolyn Meyer

Combining Personal Experience And Imagination For Writing Novels by Kashmira Sheth

Why I Write Young Adult Novels by Lish McBride

What Is The Appeal Of Teen Dystopian Novels? by Sam Hawksmoor

How Reading Berlin Newspapers From The Fall Of 1918 Helped Me Write ‘My Brother’s Shadow’ by Monika Schroder

Why I Made The Switch To Writing Young Adult Novels, by Catherine Ryan Hyde (guest article)

On Creating Conflict (Secrets Of Narrative Drive) by Sarah Mussi

Choosing The Right Story For Your Teen Novel by Paul Volponi

Historical Teen Novels: Fact, Fiction And Friction by Pauline Francis

Writing Narrative Point Of View In Teen Novels by Diane Lee Wilson

Approaching the writing of teen novels

Beth Revis wrote: “Do the things you fear. Don’t try to be like everyone else. Care more about the story than the market.”

Elizabeth Wein wrote: “I don’t write teen novels. Most of my novels are about teens, but I have never once in my life set out to write a ‘teen novel’.”

Guest contributor Catherine Ryan Hyde: “It helps to remind myself that when I was 14, my favorite book and movie was Midnight Cowboy, though my parents didn’t know it. That’s how I assess the reading level of a teen.”

Laurie Faria Stolarz wrote: “I knew that I wanted to target readers that were like me as a young person – those who found themselves getting discouraged by reading, whose minds tended to wander as soon as they got bored on the page. I wanted to create high concept, page-turning books that would grab the reluctant reader and get them excited about reading.”

Lish McBride wrote: “The writing coming out of Young Adult and Middle Grade sections makes my imagination burn and my heart glow with pure, unabashed joy. There have always been writers and editors that take writing for kids seriously, but now they’re being let onto the playing field. It makes me happier than you can ever know to be part of that team.”

Paul Volponi wrote: “After having written 10 novels for young adults, I believe that the most challenging aspect of writing a YA novel is choosing the right story. Why? You’re probably going to live with that story every day for a long while. In my case, it usually takes me anywhere from 10 months to a year to complete a novel. Then, following the initial writing process, there will probably be several more months of working with the editor representing the publishing company, making modifications on the novel. So there is little doubt that you need to choose a story that inspires you.”

I am currently writing a teen historical novel set in western Poland in 1939. The basic premise is that a teenage boy living with his family in Bydgoszcz in western Poland discovers at the outbreak of WW2 that he was adopted and his biological parents want to take him to Berlin, but he has different ideas. The story follows him as he tries to bring his family in Bydgoszcz back together amidst the German invasion and occupation.

I live in Australia and, like Beth Revis recommends, I’m not being like everyone else; writing a teen historical novel set in wartime Poland is not an attempt to hitch onto market trends and be just like the current bestsellers. It has originality but can also fit firmly into genres such as teen novels, historical novels and wartime novels. Like Elizabeth Wein, I am writing about a teenage main character but not necessarily writing a ‘teen’ novel in the sense of following criteria to fit a specific idea of what ‘teen’ novels should be. The novel I’m writing is intended for teenage readers and adult readers. The subject matter means I would not be actively promoting the novel to pre-teen children, given the setting in the opening months of WW2 Poland and being written for teen-adult readers in mind, but, as Catherine Ryan Hyde indicated, many young readers read above the recommended age-range. I first read one of Stephen King’s adult horror novels when I was 9 and enjoyed it because it didn’t talk down and overly simplify things like many of the novels I had read that were recommended for my age. Whereas Laurie Faria Stolarz has an emphasis on catering for reluctant readers, my natural emphasis for teen readers is probably more toward creating something which will entertain and intellectually stimulate Honour Roll students and intelligent adults, while still being accessible and emotionally engaging for more reluctant readers. As Lish McBride pointed out, there is a lot of sophisticated and entertaining fiction available to teen readers now. My approach to my novel-in-progress is not to focus on a simplistic action-adventure approach to war, nor a simplistic anti-war morality tale, or something similar, but a story about things like family, friendship, courage, responsibility, joy, sorrow and striving against adversity. Another key aspect of my approach for this novel is in-depth research; I want my depiction of the setting to stand up to expert scrutiny as well as the story being entertaining and intellectually stimulating for teen and adult readers. All this amounts to a story I am happy to write, revise and edit over a long timeframe then discuss with people over an even longer timeframe.

Teen readers deserve novels which are not a simplified version of adult novels but sophisticated and entertaining novels created with as much effort and attention to detail as adult novels.

***

For more articles on writing novels you can check out Writing Historical Novels and Writing Novels in Australia.

***

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Why I Write For Young Adults, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

As a child, before I knew how to write – before I could even put pen to paper – I loved telling stories.  I’d go out into the neighborhood and tell the other kids about the time I went into the meadow and battled with a mountain lion.  And the time I wrestled a boa constrictor from around my neck in the fields behind our house.  My stories, of course, were lies, but I didn’t hesitate passing them off as truth.  I got a bigger reaction that way, which encouraged me to create more vivid details to heighten the tension and up the stakes.

When I got a little older and actually could write, I’d draft scripts for my Barbies and have them star in my plays and movies.  In elementary school, whenever I was asked to write about my summer or holiday vacations, I never thought that my own life was interesting enough, and so again I made things up.

You’d think that because I loved writing so much, I’d naturally enjoy reading.  But the opposite couldn’t have been truer.  I remember being in elementary school, reading pages and pages of text, and nothing sinking in.  As soon as I got slightly bored, my mind would wander and I’d have to start all over again.  I remember getting assigned to read certain novels in junior high and high school, staying up late at night, trying to absorb the words on the page.  But, so often, even though I was physically doing the assignment, mentally I was someplace else.  My eyes would scan the words, I’d flip the pages at the appropriate time, but by the end of a chapter, I’d have retained very little.

This reading phenomenon followed me to college, where I’d be assigned to read textbooks on things like microeconomics and statistical analysis.  So anxious that I wouldn’t be able to grasp what I was reading, I’d stop myself at the end of every paragraph and then summarize that paragraph in my own words (in writing), in the margin.  If you looked at any of my college textbooks now, you’d see that the margins are full of my ink.

When I graduated college with a degree in Business (because Business was “safe”), I knew that I wanted to give my dream of becoming a writer a try.  I ended up pursuing a graduate degree in Creative Writing with the full intention of writing for young people.  Those years of young adulthood are full of such angst: emotions are heightened and life is exciting and miserable at the same time.  I knew that there was so much opportunity for a writer.  But, even beyond that, I knew that I wanted to target readers that were like me as a young person – those who found themselves getting discouraged by reading, whose minds tended to wander as soon as they got bored on the page.  I wanted to create high concept, page-turning books that would grab the reluctant reader and get them excited about reading.

I remember the second week of graduate school;  I was in a class called “Writing the Young Adult Novel” and we had to go around the room and discuss what our first novel was going to be about.  Students in the class had these amazing, ground-breaking ideas for young adult literature.  But, when it got to my turn, I only knew one thing.  “I want my novel to be juicy,” I told the class.  And juicy to me meant I wanted my character to be relatable.  She couldn’t be the prettiest, the most popular, or the smartest.  She had to have drama with her friends and a rocky relationship with her parents.  I knew I wanted her to be in love with her best friend’s boyfriend (juicy). She had to have a lot of secrets (super-juicy).  And (the juiciest) the novel had to have a stalker, thus propelling it into the suspense/mystery genre, which is what I tended to gravitate toward as a young person when given the choice about reading.  And so I wrote a novel for my teen-self.  Blue is for Nightmares was the product; it was my graduate thesis, and so far it’s been my best seller, spawning a five-book series, a publishing imprint, and a potential TV series.  It’s also been translated into numerous different languages and has appeared on many different award lists, including the Top Ten Teen Pick List and the Quick Pick List for Reluctant Readers, both through the American Library Association.  But, even after all of the novel’s success, the thing that excites me most is when a young person writes to me saying that he or she used to hate reading, but that my work has since inspired him or her to read, because that is exactly what I set out to do.  I feel so grateful to be able to do this for work.

***

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com

Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio page

***

United States (and beyond)

   

United Kingdom (and beyond)

   

Australia (and beyond)

Blue is for NightmaresWhite is for MagicSilver is for SecretsRed is for Remembrance    Shock PointCleopatra ConfessesCode Name Verity

Writing Teen Novels
www.writingteennovels.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 138 other followers

%d bloggers like this: