So, you want to write a young adult novel and you want it to be bad? I hear you. You’re tired of trying to write good novels for kids. Writing something awful? Well, it’s freeing and everyone cares too much about kids anyway, right?
Here are my tips for writing the worst YA novel you can.
Write like an 88-year old man from a wealthy neighborhood in Connecticut.
You once had a teenager perspective inside you back a few decades ago. That’s over now. You’re a full-fledged curmudgeon. Write like it.
Make sure that the whole book is written like you’re observing things from an ancient, judgmental difference.
Like a total fool, Brandon failed to put money in his IRA or notice that his skin’s taut nature. I laughed at him.
Make sure there is no emotional truth in anything.
You don’t want the readers to identify with any of your characters. What better way to do that than to make sure that they can’t. How do you do that? Make everything bland. Make everything completely lack intensity. Imagine Spock from Star Trek when he’s not in love with Kirk. Channel that.
I fell in love. No metaphors. It happened. Maybe it was gas. I had burritos for breakfast that morning, which always impacts my digestion.
Avoid any real teenagers. Wait. You can yell at them to get off your lawn, but that’s it.
You want a sucky book, right? Make sure you have no current pop references, write in a bubble and have no clue what teenagers care about or even look like. They’re all blue, right?
I wanted to be one of those people who are just there but not. I liked the smell of Metamucil. When Grampa visited I thought, “Cool.” Same thing as I thought when the love of my life showed up. Intensity is overrated.
Use a lot of slang!
Nothing makes an awful book like using slang from the 1940s in a present-day time period. Put in as many as possible.
Good ones include:
Armored heifer – Canned milk
Bust your chops – Yell at someone for being a dork
What’s buzzin’ cousin? – How are you doing?
He had high-tailed it out of there, and I did not have moxie to flap my gums to him about how she was a bearcat or not to take any wooden nickels from the other one, who was such a cancelled stamp.
Have No Plot
Seriously. Just have everything be stagnant. Have there be no immediacy. Have it be like a town planning board meeting discussing the land use ordinance’s shoreline setback for 5.7 hours.
We sat there. The others talked. Time passed. We sat some more. I stared at the ceiling fan. It seemed bored, too. We sat some more.
Have No Hope
Life is dark. Life has no hope. Why not teach the kids that right now, right? They will one day have to sit in a town planning board meeting so they might as well get used to life with no light at the end of the tunnel where someone busts their chops all day and they have to drink armored heifers.
Make them hate their existence as much as possible.
Everything sucked, but not in an intense way. Just a mellow suck – sort of a droning on of suckitude for years. Then I died after 80 years of almost-but-not-quite existential worries and moments. The end.
A lot of abuse happens at home. Know the signs of abuse and help your friends or yourself. Nobody deserves pain.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors
National Sexual Assault Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline asks these questions to help you understand if something is abuse.
Does it….Does he/she/they…?
- Insult, demean or embarrass you with put-downs?
- Control what you do, who you talk to or where you go?
- Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
- Push you, slap you, choke you or hit you?
- Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
- Control the money in the relationship? Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
- Make all of the decisions without your input or consideration of your needs?
- Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away your children?
- Prevent you from working or attending school?
- Act like the abuse is no big deal, deny the abuse or tell you it’s your own fault?
- Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
- Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
- Attempt to force you to drop criminal charges?
- Threaten to commit suicide, or threaten to kill you?
You can volunteer for organizations locally and nationally. A good place to start is here.
Every time you do something good, you make an impact. It might not seem like a lot but moment after moment, tiny bits of help after tiny bits of help add up to change.
Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.
I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!