Tuesday, October 29, 2013

(Work-in-) Progress Report: Bonnie

Word count (to the nearest thousand): 73,000
Status: Line editing (as always)
Attitude: A little weary

I'm down to sentence-level changes on this latest draft, but the sentence-level changes are always the toughest, at least for me. I always feel like the clunkiest, wordiest writer on the planet when I'm trying to streamline my prose, and since I'm also trying to inject a bit more voice into the manuscript, the going on this pass is even slower than it usually is.

Voice isn't generally something I have to think a lot about; it just kind of flows. But somewhere in the switch from MG to YA, I lost some of my mojo. I know a lot of people think it's tough to nail an MG voice, but I, for one, find it much easier to write a precocious twelve-year-old than a mature seventeen-year-old who's interesting enough to spend three hundred pages with (and who doesn't bug me to death).

To that end, I asked my Twitter followers to share their favorite YA reads with non-slangy, non-snarky characters. I got some great suggestions, so I thought it would be fun to share them with you:

I'LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan The best thing about this book is that it's written in third person, and not particularly close third, either. I'd forgotten how much you can do with an impartial narrator who kind of floats above the story. I considered whether or not it would be worth it to flip Bonnie from first to third but ultimately decided against it. Since Bonnie is so personal, I think switching it to third would create unnecessary distance between the reader and my MC.

THE QUEEN OF KENTUCKY by Alecia Whitaker The MC in this book had a very distinctive voice, but it read too young for me. Now in Ricki Jo's defense, she WAS only fourteen, so I guess she had a good excuse. As my mother can attest, I was a basket case at that age:)

SMART GIRLS GET WHAT THEY WANT by Sarah Strohmeyer Of all the books I've read to educate my YA voice, this book was the one that spoke to me the most. I loved Gigi, Bea, and Neerja, who were interesting but not annoying, witty but not sarcastic. They were just the sorts of girls I would have wanted to hang out with in high school (if I'd been the sort of girl to hang out in high school, that is). If you love contemporary romances with strong, well-developed characters, definitely give SMART GIRLS GET WHAT THEY WANT a read.

DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock I'm not finished with this one, but I've already enjoyed it quite a bit. D.J. is a great character with a ton of voice and charm. Actually, I think she and Ella Mae would get along famously, which is the main reason I don't want to draw too much inspiration from this book. I just don't want to write the same character over and over.

Are there any other books you think I should pick up to educate my YA voice? And how are YOUR works-in-progress coming along?


Ryan Hancock said...

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud has the best YA voice I've read in a while. Definitely recommend.
As for my progress, I've got my first two books in The Colorblind Series ready. The agent has my World Bible and Series Synopses. I'm waiting to hear back.
And I know that insecure writerly feeling you're talking about. Some days you look at your own writing and go blechh.

Virginia Pierce said...

I loved "Sweethearts" by Sara Zarr. It actually made me tear up at the end (but in a good way.) It was touching.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Ryan! I hadn't even heard of THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND, so I'll have to check it out. And good luck with your Colorblind series--you know how much I like it:) (By the way, is this your agent or an agent? If the former, I didn't realize you'd found representation! How did I miss that?!)

Thanks, Virginia!

Myrna Foster said...

Have you read Princess Ben, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock? It's my favorite of her books.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Is that the sequel to WISDOM'S KISS, Myrna? I remember you let me borrow your copy (of WISDOM'S KISS) once, but I never picked up PRINCESS BEN. I'll have to look it up (and the sequel to DAIRY QUEEN, since I enjoyed it, too)!

Myrna Foster said...

Princess Ben came first. She's the grandmother in Wisdom's Kiss.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Oh, interesting. WISDOM'S KISS definitely felt like it could stand on its own.