Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gossip Time...Writing & Selling the YA Novel

During the month of January, I'm filling my brain up with writerly knowledge. K.L. Going, the author of Writing & Selling the YA Novel, is also the author of Saint Iggy and Fat Kid Rules the World. She grew up with a librarian parent and worked at the Curtis Brown Literary Agency for awhile. Needless to say, she knows her stuff.

This book is great if you're just embarking on the journey of writing a YA novel, but it also provides sound advice for the seasoned writer. I particularly like the sections where Ms. Going touched base on:
  • Character development
  • Opening with conflict
  • Believability
  • What resolution is
But I think the major thing I learned from this book was about creative momentum. This past weekend was Wild Card NFL playoff weekend and the college football BCS championship. The football commentators often talk about momentum. Game changing moments such as interceptions, fumbles, kicks returned for touchdown. These all create momentum, that an intangible energy boost that makes a team feel like they own this game, that they're unstoppable.

Well, apparently I've been killing my creative momentum. I admit it. Sometimes I try to make things too perfect. I spend days editing, feeling like I haven't earned the right to keep writing, and moving forward with the story. Ms. Going talks about the dangers of editing too early and how it can kill your creative momentum.

I plead guilty to the charge.

She describes creative momentum as the following:

Momentum can be a powerful force to keep you moving through the writing process. Writing is not easy, and the task of finishing an entire book can be daunting, but it's easier to keep going when you're working hard and your story is flowing well than it is when you're picking up something cold. You know you've got momentum when each day's work leads into the next, and you just can't wait to finish the scene or chapter that you had to leave dangling the night before.  ~page 141

Consider this: If momentum is so precious, why would you want to lose it too early in the process? You wouldn't. That's why editing too soon can be dangerous. When you stop the creative process in order to turn your attention to revising, the forward motion of the book stops. ~page 142

To sum up, Writing & Selling the YA Novel, was informative, and definitely not dry. Ms. Going even includes opinions from actual teenagers on issues ranging from teen voice to e-books. I recommend this book to any aspiring YA Author, but I want to make clear that I don't' know Ms. Going and in no way am I being compensated for this post. Just sharing a book that I found helpful.


  1. That's good advice. I've always stopped and done simple edits on previous day's work before the next bit of new writing. For me, it gets me back in the story. I lose my momentum in other ways.

  2. Thanks for this review! I'm definitely going to go check out this book now.

    I'm completely guilty of editing too earlier. But, in my defense, I've been burned in the past. I hit 100,000 words on a project but it was too much of a mess to sort out. Three years later, it's still not finished. I wished with that project I'd found a better balance between writing and editing.

  3. Hey guys! Thanks for dropping by. In the book, Ms. Going does mention that it's ok to go back and read a chapter or so prior to writing, just so you can get back into things. And that it's ok to do some light editing during this time. But you don't want to do any major over hauls that might stagnate your creative momentum.

  4. Thanks for emphasizing the importance of momentum--at least, that's what seems to work for me. I wrote many drafts of one novel that just never flowed. I struggled with it, thought about it in terms of far too many things (place in the Canon, marketing, how I'd pitch it to agents), and never let the story and characters do their own thing. My current novel, a natural birth as there ever was, actually felt good to write. I've called the process that created the first draft "flow" and "inspiration," but momentum, in your words, really does the trick. I'm on Draft 3 now. Each revision has taken it to a whole new level, ones I don't think I could have ever reached without allowing creative momentum in the first place.