Monday, September 8, 2014

Advice For Writers #1: Steele's Five Tips For Writing YA Contemporary

Hey guys, Steele here, I'm so excited to be bringing you my(and our) first Advice For Writers post! I am currently drowning in work for my first YA Contemporary(normally I write Fantasy) and it got me thinking...what do I think makes YA Contemporary so awesome? What makes me love a contemporary book? So that led me to today's topic: Five Tips For Writing Kickass YA Contemporary.

The Two Kinds Of YA Contemporary: In my mind there are two different types of YA Contemporary, you have the fun fluffy swoony books(think Fangirl and Anna and The French Kiss). But you also have the more serious heartbreaking books that can deal with anything from death to abuse to cancer(think The Fault In Our Stars and Eleanor & Park). So my book(Friendzone) definitely belongs to the "fluffy" crowd, so that is what we are talking about today.

Five Things A Good Fluffy YA Contemporary Has:
  1. Funny, relatable characters - I think in any story, but especially contemporary, the characters are the most important ingredient(because we're obviously making cookies). Yes plot is important and conflict and all those lovely things but it all falls apart with bad unrelatable characters. If you don't like the main character then no matter how interesting the plot, no matter how beautiful the writing, you're not going to enjoy the book as much as you would if you liked the character. Having said that obviously as a writer you will encounter people who don't like your character, you may skip every characteristic that annoys you as a reader and still there will without a doubt be readers who hate and find your main character annoying and unrelatable.  When writing I try to "listen" to my character, meaning that while I try to craft them into a person I would like to read a book about, at the same time just because I hate One Direction doesn't mean my character will, if it goes with who she is then I have to put it in the book. Whether it might make people hate her or not.
  2. Relationships - In contemporary I think the relationships make or break the book. Not just the romance and the love interest but you need believable fun friendships and family relationships. In contemporary especially, I always love it when the main character has an awesome best friend or is super close with their sibling or has a good(or crappy) relationship with their parents. Cause the thing is in a contemporary romance obviously the main plot is the romantic relationship, but you need other people and other relationships and friendships in there to make it truly great.
  3. Awesome Secondary Characters - I find in contemporary I tend to get caught up in side characters and I love when the author crafts a secondary character so well that I remember them just as much as the love interest months after I read the book. Whether it's the quirky best friend or the hopeless brother, whether they are only in it to help the main character or for plot, I love a compelling side character.
  4. A Reasonable Love Interest - Meaning that nothing turns me off of a book more than insta love. But not exactly insta love, you know when the main character(or the love interest) is in love with the other person just because they are? When they're boring and they barely know each other and yet they've secretly been in love with each other forever? Give me just one moment that shows why they love each other, what makes this person so great, let me fall in love with them too. Don't just tell me the person is so great, so beautiful and that obviously they love the main character back because...plot?
  5. Make Me Swoon - Remember in romance we readers want to fall in love, with the main character, with the love interest, with the side characters and most importantly with the romance. Make it hot and heavy, or slow and sweet, but either way make it real. Make me feel it, make me fall in love while they fall in love. Now how you do this is something you're going to have to figure out for yourself!

Basically, when it comes to fluffy contemporary romance I think characters, and relationships beyond the main love interest, are what can make them great or make them horrible.

This is just my opinion and I would love to hear yours in the comments down below!

Write on, write on.

-Alex Steele

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