One of the most important factors in a YA novel is VOICE. And I don’t mean POV (first or third person). I’m talking getting in the character’s head. We are them for 200-400 pages. Their thoughts become our thoughts. We witness events through their eyes. Their first kiss is our first kiss.
So, what does this entail? You have probably all heard “show don’t tell,” well that comes into play with the voice. Want to listen to a monotone robot reading you the news? No? Didn’t think so. It’s quick and efficient but we want to be shown the news, through emotions and pictures and overly contrived one liners.
Using first or third person limited allows the narrator to get inside the main character’s head and reveal the inner workings: emotions, logic, thoughts. Thoughts, actions, and reactions are all different.
Most of my favorite books won me over by the voice. Yes they had great plot and development and everything else vital to a good read, but the voice managed to keep me engaged and invested.
Invested… That’s what it’s all about, right? Get us invested in your character. Make us care whether or not she gets the boy or survives the flood or solves the missing computer mouse mystery. And get us invested early. Unlike plot, voice isn’t really something that unveils as the novel progresses. Page one, line one, I want voice.
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