Tag Archives: Stephen Chbosky

Takeaway Writing Tips from #BCReadalong THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Posted by August 30th, 2013

perks with frame

Two weeks ago we launched a back-to-school themed readalong for Book Country writers. The book we chose was the Young Adult Contemporary novel THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky. Our inaugural #BCReadalong was designed to read the book as writers, using PERKS as an example of prose, structure, and character development that has really resonated with readers of all ages.

Here at Book Country HQ we’ve come up with a list of writing tips that developed as we thought about what works about PERKS: Continue reading

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Young Adult Contemporary Guidepost #4: Parents in YA Fiction

Posted by August 28th, 2013

Have you ever noticed how all of the teens that star in your favorite YA books have really oblivious parents?

There’s Charlie, Bella’s dad in TWILIGHT, who doesn’t pick up on the fact that a vampire is sneaking in through his daughter’s bedroom window every night. (Charlie’s oblivion is actually the subject of a Book Country discussion thread that I find totally hilarious.) SHIVER’s Grace might have survived a wolf attack as a kid, but her parents still leave her up to her own devices almost all of the time, meaning she and her paranormal boyfriend have nightly sleepovers in her room.

This isn’t just true for YA Paranormal: Even in the YA Contemporary novel (and our inaugural #BCReadalong!) THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, the main character (also named Charlie) has parents who are very prominent characters in the story. Yet they tune out a lot of what’s going on in Charlie’s life in terms of drinking, drugs, romance, friends, and drama. This is also true of another one of my favorite YA books of all time, GIRL by Blake Nelson–Andrea’s parents are just totally unaware of all the stuff she is out doing with her friends. It’s not quite as extreme as in TWILIGHT and SHIVER, and certainly, both Charlie and Andrea’s parents are wonderful, realistic, well-drawn characters, but it got me thinking about the role of adult characters in YA books. What should a writer do with them?

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Young Adult Contemporary Guidepost #2: Love Stories

Posted by August 23rd, 2013

YA Contemporary Guidepost #2 Love Stories

As the second in a series of Guideposts for Writing Young Adult Contemporary fiction, we’re thinking about that old YA standby: the teen romance. Should your book have one or not?

Put a Little Love in Your Book

It’s extremely hard to think of a YA book in any literary category that doesn’t have some element of romance. Romance might not be the central theme, but it’s a good anchor in almost any story. For example, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS by Ann Brashares is about the friendship (and those magical pants). But of the four main characters in the book, three of them have a love interest. One of the most effective ways Ann Brashares illustrates the depth of the sisterhood is by showing us how the characters soothe each other’s romantic anxieties and heartbreaks, as well as celebrate when the others find love. Even books that are relatively “Gender”-less usually explore the theme of love: Stephen Chbosky’s THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (which is, by the way, our inaugural #BCReadalong), EVERY DAY by David Levithan, and PARANOID PARK by Blake Nelson are all welcome books that shows us the complexities of teen life—and love—from a guy’s perspective.

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Guideposts for Writing Young Adult Contemporary Fiction

Posted by August 21st, 2013

One of the biggest additions to the Book Country Genre Map is Young Adult Fiction, on the east side of the map. If writing Young Adult Fiction interests you, by all means, explore it!

Young Adult is a genre rich with innovation, and by reading and reflecting on recently published Young Adult titles, we can learn a lot about good writing of any genre.

Over the next two weeks, I’m going to be sharing some approaches to writing Young Adult Fiction, especially Young Adult Contemporary. To go along with the Genre Map metaphor, I’m calling these suggestions “guideposts.” They aren’t rules. Instead, I’m imagining myself coming upon various crossroads in my Young Adult writing, and needing to make choices about the path I want to take through this area of the Genre Map. The guideposts are there to—you guessed it—guide those choices, with the ultimate goal of writing my best Young Adult Contemporary book.

Here’s the first:

How contemporary is contemporary in YA fiction?

Young Adult Contemporary Guidepost #1: How contemporary is contemporary?

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#BCReadalong: Reading THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER Like a Writer

Posted by August 18th, 2013

perks readalong draft 2One of the things we want to try with Book Country 2.0 is having a “readalong” every couple of weeks. What we envision is not just a book club (though I do love a good book club!), but rather reading a specific book as a community, from a writer’s perspective.

So what does it mean to read a book as a writer?

It means that we won’t just discuss what we like or don’t like about the book (though that’s fair game, of course!). We’ll also talk about the book as if the author was a Book Country member posting the manuscript for feedback. We’ll analyze what works and what doesn’t work in terms of structure, prose, dialogue, pacing, voice, and characterization. We can also talk about how this book was published, and what went into making it successful. Writing and publishing issues big and small will be up for debate, and the more people who join in on the conversation, the better!

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