“Why do you write for children?” My immediate response to this question is, “I don’t.” … If it’s not good enough for adults, it’s not good enough for children. If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books. And words.–Madeleine L’Engle
My latest post is up at the Ploughshares blog, and this month I’m talking about judging characters by how likeable or relatable they are.
“Likeablity” is a big issue for YA writers and readers. Teen characters, especially teen girl characters, are easily judged for being ‘annoying’ or ‘bitchy’ or for making bad choices–which is how teens and people in general are in real life. We make bad choices, we complain, we say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and that’s part of what makes us human. Even more importantly, it’s a place from which we can grow and learn from these mistakes. YA is all about growing and learning and becoming the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. Why should that always be ‘likeable?’
In the post, I include a reference to The Whale and teen character Ellie, one of the most unlikeable and most pained teen characters I’ve seen. Although The Whale is decidedly not YA, when I saw the play and heard audience reaction to how unlikeable and seemingly irredeemable Ellie is, I really wanted to have the opportunity to defend her. She’s a mean person who does/says some awful things, but all of her cruelty comes from a place of sadness and anger and grief and isolation. I hope more readers and viewers can take the opportunity to asses characters like Ellie (again, especially teen girl characters) and understand what makes them mean or annoying or frustrating.
Check out the whole post, and share your thoughts on likeability, relatability, and readability.
It’s less than two weeks to the Boston Teen Author Festival and I’m so excited!
Doors open at 10:45, and we’ll be having four amazing panels. The info has just been announced! I’ll be part of Platonic in Love: Writing strong non-romantic relationships. One of my biggest pet peeves is that YA is all about insta-love, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to talk about other kinds of love and relationships and friendships in YA with some seriously amazing authors.
Check out the poster below for all the panel/author goodness:
And click through to the Boston Teen Author Festival website for all necessary info. Hope to see you on September 27th!
A few links for your Wednesday:
- Love this quote.
- How book designers come up with just the right image to convey a story.
- Excellent post on writing for 21st century teens and why it’s more than just references to social media.
- Teens in YA with jobs.
- I would totally take a library sciences class with Giles.
- Great idea for a grant.
- For your library swooning.
- The seven steps of revision.
- A playlist for YA.
Happy Friday, everyone! And happy September! Summer kind of flew by and, as you may have noticed, I’ve been a slightly delinquent blogger. Part of that was working on my WIP, which I finally finished! (Well, you know, I finished the draft, but that means diving into revisions and polishing everything up.)
But another part of that is being a little burnt out by stuff like the Friday Fifteen. Even bumping it down to five reviews a week instead of fifteen has been hard over the past few months. So I’m thinking–maybe it’s time to restructure Fridays a little. I’m toying with the idea of making the Friday Fifteen a biweekly or monthly post, and mixing in other recurring threads on the other Fridays.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. At least for today, we’ve got a regular Friday Fifteen. Onto the book reviews in fifteen words or fewer!
2. The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Growing things takes dedication and patience. Which may be why I’m bad at gardening.
3. A House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L’Engle
Not my favorite of the L’Engles. The Athenian setting stands out for me the most.
4. The Haunted House (Sweet Valley Twins #3) by Francine Pascal
Jessica thinks the new girl is a witch, is mean to her, surprising no one.
5. Good Enough by Paula Yoo
Sweet and funny and genuine. Special place in my heart for Patti’s church youth group.
Man, I am so behind on posting! Here are all the links I’ve been hoarding:
- At Ploughshares, I wrote about authors of literary fiction who have also written YA–with great success.
- I also shared my bookshelf confessions with the delightful Mackenzi Lee.
- London is for book lovers.
- Lots of great YA/children’s characters on this list of best parents in literature.
- Beautiful article by Gayle Forman about loss and how it resulted in her If I Stay.
- Classic YA novels that should be made into movies.
- What are your most memorable reads from school?
- Your therapist character shouldn’t suck.
- This semester: YA on the syllabus.
- Short stories for your 20s.
- Middle grade and young adult: not the same.
- Because no one can see the fancy cover of the hyper-literary book you’re reading on an e-reader.
- Growing up reading CS Lewis, and my new favorite Lewis story.
- A call for science fiction that uses technology for inspiration, for fear.
- If you can’t go on vacation this summer, some summer reading travels.
- I want to go to there.
- Cool interview with some cool librarians.
- Excellent post on sex in YA and what readers want from their reading experience.
- 10 things you don’t need to be a writer.
- YA authors play Sorting Hat for their characters.
Come for the discussion about YA writing, stay for the signing and smiles.
YA Author Panel and Signing
August 13, 7pm at Buttonwood Books
747 CJC HWY RTE 3A
Cohasset, MA 02025
The weather is supposed to be kind of gross, but hopefully by 7pm things will have calmed down. And what better way to spend a rainy day than by hitting up a local bookstore?