Monday, February 6, 2012

What Contemporary YA Teaches Me About Writing Sci-Fi

This past month I've gotten back into book devouring mode. Which is awesome for me, not so awesome for my budget ;) But sometimes you gotta chuck responsibility to the wind, and go with the reading mood when it strikes (and then try to offset buying books with reserving them at the library!).

Now, you might ask, why are you so obsessed wih YA contemporary when you write sci-fi, Heather? My response: ummmmm. I don't know! But other than a select few gems of awesome, I can't seem to really get into anything that's sci-fi or paranormal. I seem to have zero patience, sometimes make it half-way through,  put it down because I feel like 'meh,' and then am like, dude, what's up? Did becoming a writer make me broken as a reader somehow? Then I pick up a contemporary book and disappear into it and four hours later come up for breath and let out a happy sigh.

So I've been trying to figure out what it is about contemporary that makes them such easy reads, even when the subject matter isn't light (I'm looking at you The Fault In Our Stars). I think part of it is: the setting is relatable. There's no worldbuilding you have to figure out, no trying to gear up to learn the ins and outs of how things work, no trying to decode new and strange social codes that come with a dystopia or a post-apocalyptic book. I also think part of it might be that the conflicts can be intense, but they aren't all life and death (and sometimes that's a relief to read!). There's not kick-butt action, it's lots of emotional drama instead. Because here's really what's what--those are my favorite parts of action-y life or life-and-death books--the space in between the action, where characters are learning about themselves or falling in love.

I've been working on book 3 in my series, which paradoxically is pretty chockful of big action spreads. But I've also been very careful to avoid some of the things I hate in the third book of trilogies. Like take for example, Mockingjay. There's so much action, and so little of the interpersonal relationships that made us fall in love with the first book. The personal bits seem like quick toss-ins between one trauma or another. So I'm trying my damndest to create space for my characters to really have the growth I want for them. And for the romance, which I've worked in some *hopefully* creative ways to keep fresh. It's the emotional core of any book that really hooks me and makes a book stay in my head for long after I've read it.

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post, Heather! I feel the exact same way when it comes to contemporary stuff. It's so refreshingly real and reminds us spec-fic writers to keep that realness in our characters even when the surroundings are decidedly SURreal. ;)

    Can't wait to read GLITCH! :D