Favorite YA Reads of 2014

The year of 2014 brought a lot of change in my life and so I didn’t read as much as I normally do (don’t worry, I plan on making up for this in 2015). But I still read at least a book a week, so out of those, here are the top two out of several categories!

Sci-fi books:

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These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Fantasy books:

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Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

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Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian

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This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

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In the After by Demitria Lunetta

Thrillers:

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All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrell

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Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga

Contemporary:

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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (oh and Fangirl! Okay basically all Rainbow Rowell)

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Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Not really sure how to categorize: 

I also read Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky trilogy this year and loved it! It’s sort of sci-fi/dystopian/thriller

If you Find Me by Emily Murdoch – It’s hard to consider this contemporary because it’s so dark, but it’s so good!

 

Tips For Writing a Dual POV

Okay, so I’m not an expert by any means, but before my massive revision I had one resounding note from people who read my book.

“The dual narrative voices were too similar”

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Ugh.

How disheartening because they were SO incredibly distinct in my mind. Writers can attest that you know your characters and of course know their “voice” so when that is not portrayed on the page, it’s difficult to know where to start.

Yet when I went back and started revising… you can guess it… the further into the book it got, the more similar they sounded.

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Here are three tips I picked up while revising:

1. At the beginning, exaggerate their voice. I went back through and revised my male character and probably went overboard on everything from curse words to slang and whatever to differentiate. I needed to get in a rhythm of his voice and figure out how he would say the things he was already responding too. He’s not going to say “what was that?” he’s going to say, “What the hell?” He’s not going to wax on poetically in his internal monologue, he’ll be more dry, but also intense. In my effort to differentiate and set his tone, I accidentally made him wildly misogynistic. Oops! Had to rein that one back in 🙂 After I went overboard, I revised all his chapters back down to make him more realistic and relatable, but overall it really helped to establish his voice.

2. Revise one POV at a time. In my novel it was basically an every other chapter kind of split (though it did vary) and so I would ONLY revise one character POV at a time. So that would be revising chapters 1,3,5… and go all the way to the end. Then I would start back over at 2,4,6… This helped me SO much in keeping in the “head” of my character.

3. Read your chapters out loud. This is particularly useful when you are having voice issues. You just may realize that they are sounding more similar. Also, while reading out loud, tweak as you go rather than go back.

Extra:

If you’re writing YA, pretty much make sure you only use contractions (aka: it’s rather than it is). This helps establish voice in YA characters and can be used to differentiate voice as well.

So these are a few things I picked up while trying to differentiate my dual POV! Hope these help!

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Things I’ve Learned While Revising…

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1. I am way too attached to dialogue tags and particularly to the word, “says.”

2. When I draft, it’s bare bones. When I revise, I add a LOT. I’m sure a lot of writers are like this, but I always hear of drafts being LONG and when revising they need to cut. I’m the exact opposite.

RANDOM: Each draft I revised, the word count went up 10k words.

3. When I thought my book was done in May, I didn’t realize that it was too plot heavy. I had a book that had a plot and I stuck characters in there to move the plot forward. What I realized in revising is that the book needs to be about characters reacting to the plot. It’s all about the characters.

4. All characters have to have motivations and backstories that justify their reactions. Most of the time, those backstories aren’t mentioned, but if you as the author know them, writing them is more natural and the reader understands without even knowing.

5. You’re never really done. I thought I was done, and find myself re-writing two chapters today. I know that one day I just have to BE done, but I’ve learned a big difference between copywriting and novel writing. I can feel done when I complete a copywriting project and I have yet to feel done while novel writing. There is always room for improvement.

 

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