Dear Blog, I Need Your Help

I know I’ve been ignoring you. It isn’t so much that I haven’t wanted to write. I have. It’s more that I’ve allowed life to get in the way. I’ve actually been in a whole terrible cycle of dropping balls — good thing I don’t actually juggle my children. Physically, I mean.

In the last few weeks, I’ve missed a physical therapy appointment, forgotten to pay a bill, put off mailing my samples to the Be The Match registry (which you really should look into), and neglected to make a phone call to our insurance about a bill for urgent care for our kids from like…months ago. I’ve neglected some other things, too. Like laundry. Cleaning toilets. You know, pretty much everything.

I’d like to tell you that I have a good reason. That I’ve been so busy working on my writing that all else has fallen by the wayside. (Where the hell is the wayside, anyway? I think I have left a lot of stuff there.) In a way, this is true. I’ve had the first two chapters of my YA novel pretty well worked over by two different groups of readers (who are not my best friends or my mother). And it’s looking better than I thought.

Here’s my big struggle. And maybe you can weigh in. Should all YA be written in 1st person? I am in the middle of rewriting the whole damned thing to third person because I have always felt like 1st was just sort of…amateurish. But maybe YA needs that close up somewhat awkward inner voice to really connect it to the reader? I know that most of the YA I’ve read is written in first. But I wouldn’t mind avoiding comparisons to some of the really poopy YA that’s out there, too.

Weigh in, won’t you? Should YA be written in 1st person?

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3 thoughts on “Dear Blog, I Need Your Help

  1. I think I prefer YA to be in 1st person. I have 5 YA books sitting in my to-read pile. Bunheads by Sophia Flack, Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Westerman–all in first, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer is the only one in third. That’s a random sampling and only one is contemporary, but you get the idea.

    That being said, I read two fabulous YA novels this week in third person. Graceling, by Kristen Cashore, is a very close third person. Katsa, the main character, would be almost too ignorant of her own feelings to express them in first person. I feel more “in her head” in third. It’s entirely her limited POV, so the story is still told through her eyes. It totally worked and suited the characters and story.

    I also read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which is third person, but occasionally includes a scene from the hero’s POV though most of it is in the heroine’s. Laini Taylor writes beautiful prose–full of unexpected descriptions and elegant little phrases that no teenager would speak with. Plus, the story needed those scenes that only another character was present for. It suited that story.

    First can go terribly wrong, too. A while back I read Hush, Hush, which is perhaps the most terribly YA book I’ve ever read. I couldn’t stand being in the narrator’s head, because she was the stupidest, most annoying teenage girl I’d ever encountered. There were other problems with the story, but I don’t think that third person could have made it any worse.

    Cassandra Clare is a popular author who writes in third. I can’t stand her style–every time someone enters the room we get a description of it, every time we meet someone new we get an endless description of their dress (I’ve only read Infernal Devices, not Mortal Instruments, but from what I understand they are the same style). That kind of narration doesn’t appeal to me, but I know lots of readers do like it.

    Ultimately, you have to pick the POV that works for your story. If you wanted me to take a look at what you had in 1st to compare to what I read in 3rd and give you some thoughts, I’d be happy too.

    Hope that helps!

    Thanks for including the Be the Match link–I hadn’t heard of that program and thank it is fabulous. And I feel a lot better knowing other people totally space on normal important things like toilet cleaning and calling the insurance company 🙂

    • Thanks, Molly! I may take you up on your offer to read it in first as well. Though right now I’m leaning toward keeping it close third. Thanks for the insight on some authors I haven’t read… I kind of like CC, though she’s a bit wordy, it’s true. And there’s quite a backlash against her that I’ve just become aware of. eek.

  2. No I don’t think YA needs to be written in 1st person. Some of the 1st person pov I’ve read does seem a little amateurish (Twilight, all of them) but I think that good writers can write any pov well.

    All the YAs that I love most are written in third person. I’m actually a fan of Cassandra Clare. But I do enjoy some YAs that are written in 1st person. The 1st person story that I like the most isn’t YA, but adult (Charlotte Harris, Southern Vampire story).

    And just because there’s some blacklash against Cassandra Clare, doesn’t really matter in consideration to whether to write in first person or third person. She’s wordy, has a unique voice, and likes to use a tone of similes but that’s just her style. The same could be said if she wrote something in first person.

    When it comes to deciding what perspective to write in, I think it should depend on the story. If the story seems like it needs to be written in first person, then do that. If not, then go with third person. Or, just pick whichever you prefer. Personally, I don’t like writing first person pov.

    That being said, I remember reading something in Writer’s Digest that a lot of YA authors write their debut novel in first person, present tense. Maybe because it’s easier to write, or maybe because it’s easier to get the reader’s attached if it’s in first pov.

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