So here we are again to answer the Wednesday Why? Why I chose to write YA romance.
When I began this process about five years ago, I knew I wanted to write, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. All I knew was that romance novels comprised 55% of the book market and romance was something I knew about. At first, I was a little schizophrenic about genre hopping. I’d have an idea for a story and just go with it, pantsing my way through and gradually amassing two full length paranormal romances, two romantic suspense novels and a story that fell into genre no-man’s-land but seemed to have a YA voice—or so I was told.
I entered that manuscript into several writing contests and took third place in one and second place in another. After many submissions to agents and editors and just as many rejections, I thought a lot about that story—SAVAGE CINDERELLA. I wondered what about it worked and what didn’t.
Critique partners and contest judges liked my writing but noticed that my third person narrative took me out of the character’s deep POV and there was too much telling and not enough showing. If you are a writer, you have probably heard these comments as well. So rather than letting discouragement keep me from forging on, I took some on-line workshops and decided to study, rather than just read, other people’s writing.
I spent a lot of time reading in different genres trying to decide what I loved about each. Of course, I loved it all, but once I started reading YA books I was hooked. Go figure. Maybe it was because my own teen years were filled with drama and angst of epic proportions, and I could identify with what these kids were going through.
I thought HUNGER GAMES was brilliant, I inhaled the TWILIGHT series, and everything Sarah Dessen has written, I’ve enjoyed immensely. So is it dystopian, paranormal, or contemporary YA that floats my boat? I’m convinced I could write all of it, because really, it’s the characters that make the story, and I love writing about teens in any setting. Their emotions are so strong and immediate, and it’s fun to see their evolution from the beginning to the end of their stories. A lot happens and changes in a year when you’re sixteen or seventeen. I realized that I’m especially drawn to characters enmeshed in family drama. Clearly, I can relate.
I finally had an idea for a YA story and once I began writing in first person, my character came to life. It was like re-writing history or creating an alternate reality for my teen self. Although there is some part of my real life and personal experience written into each of my main characters, they are definitely not me. They are more like best friends who share their stories with me and want me to tell the world about them. How cool is it that I get to dish juicy gossip about ‘friends’ and they don’t mind a bit. In fact, they insist that I write every detail about their sordid problems and that I get it right.
In the end, I guess I’m passionate about writing YA romance because there is a hopefulness that shines through. Those firsts—dates, kisses, break-ups and make-ups—all of those milestones that change us forever are filled with possibility and emotion. For me,possibility and emotion is why I read and also why I write.
So tell me, what are you passionate about, and what inspires you to do it?