writers' advice weblog

Category archive

WNAF Virtual Book Launch

Thank You, and See You in a Week!

in Giveaways/New Adult Fiction/WNAF Virtual Book Launch by

Dear Readers…

Thank you for joining me to celebrate the publication of Writing New Adult Fiction, and congratulations to Devanie on winning yesterday’s grand finale Full Manuscript Edit giveaway. We’ll take week off from DearEditor.com updates in your inbox, then I’ll be back with the regular Q-and-A—starting with a writer who wants to know what makes “bestsellers that begin with backstory, like The Fault in Our Stars,” work in an age when in media res is the magic phrase.

Happy writing!
The Editor

Writing New Adult Fiction

Foreword by Sylvia Day

“For the writer who wants to become a new adult author, or the new adult author who seeks to enrich her craftsmanship and stand out from the herd.”Tammara Webber, New York Times best-selling author of Easy and Breakable

WritingNewAdultFictionA guide for writers of New Adult fiction, featuring essential information and techniques for creating engaging stories featuring 18- to 25-year-old protagonists against the backdrop of the new adult experience. Includes advice on self-publishing in the NA marketplace and self-marketing. Find insights from best-selling NA authors as well as editors and agents.

WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Grand Finale: Free Full Manuscript Edit Giveaway

in Giveaways/New Adult Fiction/WNAF Virtual Book Launch by

Dear Readers…

It’s here—the final day of Writing New Adult Fiction Launch Week. Today, a few words of thanks and the grand finale giveaway: a Free Full Manuscript Edit.

Good luck!
The Editor

*Scroll down to enter the “Free Full Manuscript Edit” giveaway. Congratulations to the winner of yesterday’s free critique giveaway, Beth Hull!

Sylvia DayIn picking up Writing New Adult Fiction, you, too, are turning to a new page in your writing career…. Take what you learn in the pages that follow, then adapt the knowledge to suit your story and style. Let the information work for you. Learn the rules so you can break them. You will lead your New Adult characters on a similar journey of discovery and adaptation. It’s a path we can all relate to, which is why the genre resonates with so many readers, regardless of age or background.”–Sylvia Day, from her foreword for Writing New Adult Fiction

Tammara WebberThis book is more than a marketing guide, more than a writing manual, more than a compilation of stories about successful authors. For the writer who wants to become a new adult author, or the new adult author who seeks to enrich her craftsmanship and stand out from the herd, this book has an abundance of information.Tammara Webber, from the cover of Writing New Adult Fiction

I thank Sylvia and Tammara for believing in my efforts to help NA writers, and everyone who contributed illuminating sidebar features to the book, like cover designer Robin Ludwig, who talks about book covers in her feature “Author Branding Through Cover Design.” And Marsal Lyon Literary Agency’s Kevan Lyon, who explains how an agent knows when she’s got something special in her hands in her feature “What It Means to Look for ‘Fresh’.” And author Alana Albertson, who walks us through the creation of an audiobook in her feature “Beyond the Book: Creating Your Own Audiobook.” I’m honored that these experts are helping me extend this book beyond the writing process so it can help writers through every phase of publishing.

These other authors, agents, editors, and industry insiders also allowed me to pick their brains and then pepper their wisdoms throughout the book: Jennifer L. Armentrout (writing NA fiction as J. Lynn), Amanda Bergeron, Carrie Butler, Jill Corcoran, Jaycee DeLorenzo, Kristina DeMichele, Stacey Donaghy, Karen Grove, Juliana Haygert, L.G. Kelso, Summer Lane, Trisha Leigh (writing NA fiction as Lyla Payne), Molly McAdams, Jen McConnel, Sara Megibow, Lynn Rush (also writing as Resse Monroe), Victoria H. Smith, Brooklyn Skye, Nicole Steinhaus, Denise Grover Swank, Suzie Townsend, Dan Weiss, and E.J. Wesley.

My thanks to you, too, for joining my week-long celebration. I hope you found some useful insights. To blow the final horn on this party, I’m giving away a full manuscript edit. It’s open to any novelist—of YA, NA, or Adult fiction—who has a completed manuscript of 110,000 words or less. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow, here and on DearEditor.com’s Facebook, Google+, and Twitter pages.

Happy writing!
The Editor

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Day 4: Revising in the Speed-Driven NA Market

in Giveaways/New Adult Fiction/WNAF Virtual Book Launch by

Dear Readers…

Here we are at Day 4 of Writing New Adult Fiction Launch Week. Today, the last “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway and advice for revising your NA manuscript. Tomorrow, the grand finale “Free Full Manuscript Edit” giveaway….

Happy reading!
The Editor

*Scroll down to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. Congratulations to yesterday’s winner, Whitney Sostarich!

The revision part of the process takes longer than the initial writing. The writing usually comes very quickly, then the revision will take two to three times longer than the first draft.” –Sylvia Day, international bestselling author and former president of Romance Writers of America, from Writing New Adult Fiction

NA writers feel great pressure to publish fast. Readers clamoring for the next book in your series, market opportunities feeling so “now, now, now!”, self-publishing technology reducing production cycles to nanoseconds, and other NA authors cranking out book after book after book so shouldn’t you be, too?

No. Take a breath. Now blow that frenzied feeling out of your body and take control. Refuse to be pushed into going out as fast as you can with the quickest story you can write. Publishing success isn’t measured in how fast you go from idea to publication—it’s measured in readers so satisfied with the reading experience you crafted that they want to share it with their friends and then buy more. Those readers would prefer you take longer to write a great next book than publish just-okay stuff fast. Do you want to see 3-star reviews of your books that say, “It was okay, but it felt rushed,” or do you want 4- and 5-star reviews that say, “I loved it and you will, too!”? Allow yourself the extra time you need to revise. Don’t let outside forces determine when you say, “Done!”

And I’m not just talking line tweaks. I mean evaluating the entire manuscript—scenes, character arcs, all of it—and committing to fixing any weaknesses you identify. Revision is a powerful writing tool. Every spring DearEditor.com dedicates a week to interviews with prolific award-winners and bestsellers to examine their revision processes. Click here to hear how 19 writers with 500+ books between them tackle revision and still publish voluminously.

So of course I wrote a big ol’ chapter about revising for Writing New Adult Fiction, keeping NA needs in mind. Here are two important elements you can assess when it’s time to evaluate your NA manuscript for revision:

  • Check your settings for NA appeal and freshness: 60% of Americans go straight to college from high school. If you’ve got a campus setting, have you set the scenes in uncommon campus spaces to make the familiar feel fresh? Get your characters out of the campus beer garden and into the on-campus bowling alley, with all the noises, weird lighting, and interruptions that come with that. Instead of meeting the hot guy in the class doorway, have Mr. Hottie offer your gal a ride to her car in a crowded parking structure so he can get a space. Parking was the bane of my college experience, so I muted my parents’ warnings about getting into cars with strangers. Sound like a new adult risk-taker to you? Did you work your setting against your new adult’s concerns and social mindset? How about her work spaces and party places? Does your new adult’s living space reflect this transitory time of life? Does her new “home” force her to face things she thought she’d left behind with Mom and Dad? Do your setting choices expose deep truths about your characters and make them as comfortable or uncomfortable as you need them to be?
  • Confirm that you have new adult undertones: Does your NA protagonist have high expectations for herself that don’t always match reality? Is she experimental, does she take risks? Is she working on self-accountability? Is your character still assessing her Life Plan or has she settled into it? Have you challenged that commitment, putting the screws to her thumbs so that she truly examines the box she’s building for herself? Did you get in there and rock her stability? No fiction writer should let their character stand on solid ground for long—problems beget conflict and pressured choices, conflict and pressured choices beget further problems—but it’s especially true for your NA fiction because new adults are in such a hypersensitive, unstable state.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. NA, YA, Adult… any fiction WIP is okay. (And you’re still eligible for the Friday Full MS edit giveaway, too.) Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Day 3: NA Lit and Multiple Points of View

in Giveaways/New Adult Fiction/WNAF Virtual Book Launch by

Dear Readers…

Welcome to Day 3 of Writing New Adult Fiction Launch Week. Today, a “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway, advice for deciding if your NA fiction should have multiple narrators, tips for smooth POV switching, and a peek at author Molly McAdams’s efforts to coax a voice from a new narrator in Book Two of her bestselling Taking Chances series.

Hope you find it informative!
The Editor

*Scroll down to enter today’s giveaway. Congratulation’s to yesterday’s winner, Kimberly Durtschi!

Using multiple narrators to tell your story from different points of view is a popular and fun storytelling device in New Adult literature. Multiple POVs are great for injecting conflict by having two characters report the same event differently (with neither one lying!), for causing conflict by having two characters process the same event to different ends and requiring different actions, for allowing readers to connect intimately with multiple characters, for working in information that a single narrator couldn’t know, and for providing alternate insights or opinions. But there are risks if you mishandle your multiple POVs. Switching from character to character can distract or jolt your readers or stutter your story’s momentum. Or, your efforts to connect readers with multiple characters can overwhelm those readers—and you. You may use multiple narrators in a single book, or you can switch narrators from book to book within a series.

Molly McAdams, the author of the New Adult contemporary romance series Taking Chances and Forgiving Lies, weighs in on the challenge of making sure a sequel with a new POV covers new ground in her Writing New Adult Fiction special feature “Author Insight: Giving Chase a Voice”:

molly mcadams taking chances“The times when I was mirroring Taking Chances [book 1], Chase was difficult—he’d hide in the background, and I could picture him smirking at me, saying, ‘This isn’t my story.’ But the second I’d veer away into the parts we hadn’t seen before, the parts that made  Stealing Harper [book 2] so different, it was as if I’d been holding him back while he’d been screaming at me to tell his story, and now that I’d started, there was no stopping until it was all out. He finally had a voice, and he was using it.”

As Molly’s experience makes clear, switching narrators is most powerful when each narrator can contribute something new to the story—new insights, information, or opinions—rather than simply offer a second voice. This is especially important if you’re covering scenes that readers already witnessed through another narrator (“mirroring”). The switching should add depth, not just pages. Otherwise you’re just rehashing the same scene, making the POV shifts feel repetitive rather than revelatory.

Are multiple POVs right for your NA lit? No device should be used just because it’s popular; plenty of great NAs use single POV. When considering your story’s POV, ask yourself…

  • Who is the best character(s) to tell this story?
  • What will an additional perspective add to the story? Can I show readers what’s going on in the other character’s head through his actions, body language, dialogue, and choices instead?
  • Can each character consistently bring new information to the story to make the switching rewarding for readers?
  • Do my readers need to know what’s going on in that other character’s mind? In real life, we can’t know exactly what’s going on in our closest friends’ heads. Miscommunication stems from that blind spot, and miscommunication is a novelist’s friend.

If you decide that multiple narrators are best for your NA fiction, go for it! Here are tips for smooth, strategic POV shifts…

  • Give the narrators vastly different voices and outlooks on life.
  • Trade narrators at scene or chapter breaks rather than mid-scene, reducing jolts or pacing stutters.
  • Be consistent about switching, establishing a rhythm or pattern that you can strategically break for powerful dramatic deviation.
  • Use the switching as a tension-increasing device, timing some switches to create cliffhangars as you temporarily deny readers the information, insights, or reactions they crave.
  • Clarify the switches. You could write one narrative in present tense, another in past; use first person (I, me) for one, and third person (he, she, they) for the other; or use the narrators’ names as the chapter titles.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect mix of POV strategies for your NA lit. A few days of experimentation pay off big time when you end up with the perfect balance for your story.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. NA, YA, Adult… any fiction WIP is okay. (And you’re still eligible for the Friday Full MS edit giveaway, too.) Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Day 2: Manipulating New Adult Characters

in Characterization/New Adult Fiction/Plot/WNAF Virtual Book Launch by

Dear Readers…

It’s Day 2 of Writing New Adult Fiction Launch Week! Today, a “Free Chapter Critique” giveaway and tips for manipulating new adults with their own universal traits.

Thanks for joining me!
The Editor

*Scroll down to enter today’s “Free First Chapter Critique” giveaway. Congratulations to yesterday’s winner, Kari Palm.

Yesterday I pointed out some social, emotional, and circumstantial traits of new adulthood. There are many great ways to manipulate your NA characters using those insights. Here are five:

  1. Force your new adult characters to reject or accept their childhoods. They’re no longer defined by their family’s circumstances or the fallout from parents’ decisions. They’ve got a clean slate—or so they think. Inside, they’re still lugging baggage, and that baggage needs to be handled. A variation of this has characters working through the scars of a tough teen experience, such as a physical attack.
  2. Make your protagonists question their self-reliance. They craved independence, but now that they have it, can they handle it? Perhaps threaten parental input—or yank it away if your young people use their parents as a crutch.
  3. Embrace the complications of forging a new social circle. In a way, your new adults are picking a new “family.” Don’t give them a cast of ideal choices.
  4. Make money an issue. Financial stress can be harsh, especially when you’re new to financial independence. “In YA the characters may be working at Starbucks for extra pocket money, whereas NA characters have to make money to survive, so the stresses on the characters are much greater. They can’t just blow it off.”—Agent Stacey Donaghy (quoted from Writing New Adult Fiction)
  5. Explore mental issues. Sadly, this is an age range in which many mental issues are triggered or come to fruition amid the stress. Mental and social issues are a part of our collective literary landscape, as themes and contributing to conflict and impacting both the internal and external journeys of characters. It’s an option, if not for your protagonist then for the people in her life who she may have to support with her newfound strengths and wisdoms.

All five of these manipulation strategies are, at their cores, about rocking your new adults’ stability. Remember, new adulthood is a time of change, with just about every element of their lives in some sort of transition. Good or bad, change is stressful, and stress leads to high emotions and conflict and bad decisions. Regardless of the genre you’re writing, if you wrap all that stress in your NA characters’ heightened emotions and then tie that up in a puffy bow of high expectations for an “ideal new adult experience,” you’re looking at a fiction gold mine. Mine it to the hilt!

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. NA, YA, Adult… any fiction WIP is okay. (And you’re still eligible for the Friday Full MS edit giveaway, too.) Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Day 1: NA Fiction v. YA Fiction – What’s the Diff?

in Giveaways/New Adult Fiction/WNAF Virtual Book Launch by

Dear Readers…

Thank you for joining me for Writing New Adult Fiction Launch Week. Today, a “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway and my answer to the question, “What the difference between YA, Mature YA, and NA?”

Enjoy!
The Editor

*Scroll down to enter today’s giveaway.

I’ll kick the week off with a quick compare-and-contrast of Young Adult and New Adult fiction. The new adult experience differs from the teen experience in important ways, influencing the narrative sensibility of each category and the actions and reactions of their characters.

Young Adult fiction features characters aged 12-18, covering a broad range of emotional, social, and intellectual development. It’s the 17- and 18-year-olds who figure into the YA v. NA discussion. Developmentally, these teens have begun looking outward as they try to find their places in the world and realize that their actions have consequences in the grander scheme of life. However, their dearth of experience affects their decision-making and perspective, contributing to the youthfulness, or lack of sophistication, that marks YA’s narrative sensibility. Even intelligent older teens who can think deeply about the world lack the emotional or practical tools to fix what’s broken, or the wisdom necessary to accurately diagnose a problem in the first place. In YA fiction, teens judge (often erroneously) then act based on that judgement (often not considering all ramifications). When they see that they messed up—which they will, because that’s where we get our conflicts and character growth—they must then react. Our goal as novelists is to push them through the judge-act-react sequence to the new level of maturity or enlightenment that comes with their triumph. We start them on their path of wisdom attainment that will kick into full gear during new adulthood. This time of life is often about the desperate desire for freedom to run their own lives and about learning how to cope, survive, overcome.

Mature YA is a label that distinguishes YA stories featuring those older teens and having explicit content. That graphic content isn’t enough to roll it over into the NA category because these young people are still struggling to process their world from the teen perspective I just described. And it’s not a matter of the issues explored—plenty of general YA fiction explores sexual attacks, drugs, murders, and similarly intense (“dark”) topics or themes, and many cover teen sexual experiences. Because these stories still deal with the teen experience, they are YA not NA. The “mature” distinction tips off readers that the sex isn’t merely alluded to or handled off-scene but rather written of in more explicit terms. This cut-and-dried definition blurs a bit when characters are still young but already in the new adult mindset I describe below. When determining whether your story is Mature YA or NA, consider your protagonist’s emotional and social levels, not just their intellect or life circumstances. It’s helpful to decide this before you craft the story so you can sculpt your character’s experience with your desired reader in mind.

New Adult fiction features characters aged 18-25 that have the independent life they yearned for and are in a “Now what?” phase. The NA experience ranges from leaving parents (or adult oversight) all the way up to first forays into careers. Leading a self-responsible life means new social circles, transitive living situations, new schools, jobs, and adventures. In essence, it’s a time of change and instability—and that means stress. Stress, of course, means conflict, which is fiction gold. Their high expectations and personal optimism often clash with reality. In continuing the self-identity establishment they began in their teen years, they explore, experiment, take risks, and start formulating their Life Plans—and keep reassessing those plans. There’s time later, in full adulthood, to settle into a Life Plan and get married and have kids. Society grants them this time of self-focus and these young people often embrace it with intensity that brings its own problems. The human brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, hindering new adults’ decision-making, risk-taking, and peer pressure issues. New adults often look back on the traumas they survived in their teen years and realize that surviving wasn’t enough—it’s time to accept and move on. And they look for meaningful love relationships, usually involving sex because, hey, it’s their time to experiment, they’ve got access to willing partners, and no one is monitoring them anymore. Many readers expect explicit love scenes. That said, there’s also a growing call for romance that is emotionally rich but not necessarily explicit. New adults aren’t looking for Mr/s. Right yet, but they are looking for deep connections, and that’s where NA romance storylines get their emotional power.

NA fiction is dominated by contemporary romance stories, but since the new adult experience can be explored in any circumstance, NA lit includes genres like paranormal, fantasy, thriller, mystery, historical … any genre that NA authors and readers desire. Just as YA is more than teen angst in high school, NA is more than love and lust at college. Both YA and NA explore what it means to grow and thrive among the universal concerns and perspectives of distinct life stages.

On the difference between the two, Entangled Embrace Editorial Director Karen Grove says, “New Adult is not just age or sex, it’s an underlying theme of finding one’s place in the adult world.” Karen and editor Nicole Steinhaus are vocal advocates for NA literature, and generously co-authored a featured segment for Writing New Adult Fiction. “The viewpoint must be youthful and without the benefit of years of experience, yet old enough to have developed a stronger sense of identity and responsibility than a teen. After all, these protagonists are experiencing many of these things for the first time.”

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. NA, YA, Adult… any fiction WIP is okay. (And you’re still eligible for the Friday Full MS edit giveaway, too.) Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Go to Top