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I Belong

Guest Post: Author Chloe Neill



As you might be aware, I have a thing for organizing. That includes a love of fabulous office supplies–like the gorgeous paperweights from Felix Doolittle {} and the binders from Russell + Hazel. {}.  It also includes trying to approach this novel-writing thing with some level of organization {}.

That segue leads me to today’s point: Are you thinking about penning your own YA novel? Do you have an idea for a plot {}, or maybe a bit of an outline {}?

I’ll be honest–if you’ve been writing non-YA urban fantasy or other fiction, making the transition to YA can be a logistical challenge {}. But just like writing non-YA fiction, it’s a great opportunity to think like someone else for a while–someone with different experiences, someone in a different place in their life, someone with different day-to-day challenges.

But even if the characters are different, that’s not to say you can’t use organizational tactics to make the transition a little smoother!

1. Master of Your Domain

The characters in YA novels have a few major constraints on their free time–including attending school and being affected by state and local laws like driving limitations and curfews. To keep your story consistent, consider writing out a set of rules that will govern your world.  A reference guide, of sorts.  This can take the form of a formal “Constitution” {} for your city, or merely a list of important rules that you’ll need to keep in mind as you draft.

While you’re setting the rules, O Master of Your Domain, you can also think about making a map of your city. Where’s the coffeehouse? The high school? Do the BFFs live down the street from each other, or across town? There are lots of other issue you can also consider {} depending on how detailed you want to get.

2. What Time Is It?

The ‘where’ isn’t the only issue you’ll need to consider. Your story, especially if it’s part of a series, will take place over time–from day to day or week to week. You can either address this in your outlining {}, or you can use a simple desk calendar to track when your characters do the things they do!

3. Track Your Characters

Along with outside pressures like those discussed above, characters in YA novels are in a period of great transition. They may be getting taller (puberty!), switching their “titles” each year (from sophomore to junior, for example), switching schools (junior high to high school) and hitting other big milestones (first driver’s license? first time voting?).

If you’re thinking about writing a series, or even a sequel, it might be beneficial to use character profiles to keep track of your characters’ attributes, ages, and these important milestones. You can find basic examples here {} or a little more comprehensive look at your characters’ traits here {}.

You can even print out your character profiles, hole-punch them, and store them in a fabulous binder {} that can travel with you to all your writing locales.

I hope these ideas inspire you to get started! Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your own writing!

~ Chloe

DFT: Thanks, Chloe for stopping by and for all the great advice.

You can also view my post about Firespell, which is Chloe’s debut Young Adult novel. Chloe will be back on December 14, 2009 to talk about Firespell and all things paranormal.

Visit Chloe around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook


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4 Responses to “Guest Post: Author Chloe Neill

  1. ChiomaNo Gravatar

    Just commenting to let you know you won an award over at my blog:

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  2. Stacy ~No Gravatar

    I think just about every reader has a yen to write. I know I did, and sometimes still do. These are very helpful tips. In case I ever get the urge to write, I’ll keep them under advisement :)

    I’m really looking forward to reading Fire Spell!

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