Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Contemporary YA

I was planning on doing an extensive post about songs and my setlist for my books, but the truth is I'm feeling really lazy (this is also probably why I'm not writing right now) so I'll have to save that for tomorrow. Probably.

What I do fell like talking about is contemporary novels in YA.


Seriously. Do you write contemp? Really? Then not only do I love you, but I think you are the bravest person ever. Seriously. Have a "HERO" badge.

No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get the grip of contemporary. I've tried to write numerous contemps in the past, but they always seem to peter out after the first or second chapter. Right now I was struck with the idea of a boy who sets out to find himself through chance encouters with other people.

I love this idea. I love Toby, my MC. He came to me in entirety, and I just madly scribbled out an entire page of notes for him and his story. It's very rare that a story comes to me as a whole. Normally I have to piece it together painstakingly. But I'm super excited about this, and I really want it to work.


Contemporary has always seemed, to me, very character driven. I'm a plot-driven writer by heart, but I love character driven novels. I tried my hand at a character-driven novel and ended up with my agent. Woo-hoo. But the thing about Shell was that even though it was character driven, it's still heavily placed in plot.

The problem with contemporary is that it's so similiar to real life that the characters can pretty much do anything. They're not really bound by plot like characters from urban fantasy or fantasy are. To propperly illustrate:

You can click on those comics if you want a better look. I know, I'm such a wonderful artist, aren't I? :D

So all you contemp writers out there: how do you decide what's crucial to the plot? How do you write contemp? Most importantly, what do you love about it?




  1. I'm a contemp writer; I actually have the opposite problem from you, where I'll try to write fantasy or supernatural and it just doesn't work for me. I guess since I write it all the time I can't really think of how to describe it. I write extremely fluffy romance, though, so what I think is important (sweet little moments between the two MCs that would give you cavities) probably aren't to others :P

  2. I LOVE YOU TOO!!!

    Finally! I'm so glad to see another lover of contemporary around here. Sometimes I feel totally alone because fantasy and paranormal are stealing the show. Since I write YA, I consider crucial things to the plot to be stuff that is a HUGE DEAL for teenagers, even if it's not such a big deal for adults. I also want my characters to grow and learn and not just be another cookie cutter teenage brat by the end of the book.

    Great comics, btw!

  3. I wiiiish I could write contemp!! I'm going to try, soon. I had a good idea recently, that I plan to work on once I finish editing my memoir and writing my horror and querying my dystopian. *bounces around a lot* :D
    If you want a kickass plot-driven contemp though, check out 13 reasons why (though, I'm sure you probably have already). it worked as a character-driven idea too, but the plot really made me race through it. I think it's a good example of how contemp can really do both things?