Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies

This was my first of the “Dummies” titles (and maybe not my last). My ego was just a little offended by the implication of the titles so I always shunned them. But when I did a little reading up on the author of this particular title, I pushed my ego out the back door and gave it a go.

I’m so glad I did. The author, Deborah Halverson, does a fantastic job of explaining the material without making you feel like, ahem, a dummy. The prose is easy to read, meaningfully laid out, and far from intimidating. I especially like the way the information is broken up into digestible chunks and the fact that it’s peppered with small activities to help you understand each major point.

As a matter of fact, one of the activities in chapter four may have saved my life. Well, maybe not my life but definitely the life of the protagonist in my current manuscript. I’ve finished the entire first draft, so now I’m all but deleting the entire second half of the book because I had a much better idea of how things should go. Don’t laugh – Mark Twain said the time to begin writing was when you had finally finished writing it to your own satisfaction because only then do you have any idea what you really want to say. That Mark Twain was a very smart man.

In the midst of my re-plotting and rewriting, I reached the dreaded middle of my manuscript and had that deer-in-the-headlights look about me. I looked at the words and wondered why I even started this – where could it possibly be going – and had I lost my mind? Then I read chapter four. “Writing the Almighty Hook” forces you to boil down the entirety of your story to a single sentence of no more than 50 words. Seriously.

I knew my story and my characters so well that it took me less than ten minutes to accomplish it. It was one of those eureka moments were you sit back, mouth slightly agape, and realize you’ve struck gold. I did this before I started writing the first draft (and it was like pulling teeth that time), but had not revisited my hook since starting this massive rewrite. This simple activity gave me the focus I needed to push through, kill my darlings that didn’t effectuate the conflict, and realize that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

I don’t know what more you can ask from a book. Even one that calls you a dummy. 🙂


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