Is that cover gorgeous or what?
Maureen has generously offered to giveaway a copy of The Peculiars to one lucky commenter. Details for getting entered are located below her wonderful insights on writing with voice, particularly in the YA genre:
Writing with Voice
by Maureen McQuerry
What makes YA fiction so compelling? In one word: voice.
In YA fiction voice trumps everything. It’s what keeps your readers turning the pages. It’s what makes an agent or editor ask for more.
But voice is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp. There are two types of voice that often get confused. First, there’s the writer’s voice. That’s you. It’s your distinctive way of writing about the world, your own style. And your voice is ghosted in everything you write, like a watermark on the page. It’s in the background, but always visible.
Character voice, especially the voice of the protagonist, is what compels readers to the end of the story. It’s the voice that you will follow anywhere into danger, heartbreaks, even into an alien invasion.
So what is voice?
Voice = a character’s unique take on the world +time +setting
And here’s the tricky part. Different characters in the story must have unique voices. In my current project I have two protagonists, Andrew and Emmaline. Emmaline is poetic. Her voice is full of simile and metaphor. She’s been alone a lot and she spends a great deal of time in her own head. Andrew uses more slang. His sentences are shorter and choppier, filled with action verbs.
What’s unique about the YA voice? Angst. The Urban Dictionary defines angst this way: “…the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst.” Think of your teen-age self. What do you struggle with? What keeps you up at night? What makes you sweat? And then let your protagonist struggle and sweat too.
Other characteristics of the YA voice:
- Honest---pulls no punches
- Vulnerable--even when cynical or challenging
- Questioning—more questions than answers about life
- Original/specific—like that voice in your head
- Transitions from angst to hope—even the bleakest YA books offer hope at the end
Bonus: What is Steampunk? The Peculiars has elements of Steampunk, a genre on the rise. Steampunk is alternate history, fantasy and a little sci-fi combined. It’s usually set in late Victorian times, sometimes a dystopian future, but the ambience, clothing, architecture are frequently Victorian. The Industrial revolution led to steam being the new technology. Imagine that our society stayed with steam. All future inventions were steampowered: steam powered trains, typewriters, flying machines. Think brass, clockwork, goggles and lots of gears!
Want to try a Steampunk adventure with a touch of romance? Of course you do! Maureen is giving away a signed copy of The Peculiars. (Due to the sad realities of pricey international shipping, this giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.)
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