Things I’ve learned from my current read.

I’m currently reading a recently published YA book that deals with a female protagonist who hunts the supernatural. The story is fun, but here’s some things I’ve learned from where it’s lacking:

– While the protagonist has her moments, her character overall feels a little weak. It’s told in first person (like most YA is today), and her voice just doesn’t stand out from other YA narrators. I begin to look back on all the first person YA I’ve read recently, and I realize most of their voices begin to meld into one sort of harmonic conglomerate: a sassy teen with a few witty one-liners, who has some angst but is growing and learning.

So, do I want to risk having my book in first person and having my protagonist’s voice melt in with so many others out there? Or do I gamble with third person, which is so rarely used in YA nowadays and may not appeal to YA readers?

OR, do I try to write in first person, but remember that my protagonist is not just a sassy, angsty teen? That there’s more to her than that? Maybe I could take what I’ve learned here and use it to help my protagonist gain a stronger voice, a stronger sense of self.

– Going back to what I’ve learned from the book I’m currently reading, I’m having trouble really falling into the setting and placing myself in the book’s world. The protagonist has been a paranormal hunter her entire life, and is now for the first time ever experiencing ‘normal’ teenage things like high school and making friends. It’s been interesting enough that I keep turning the pages, but not necessarily engaging.

While reading this morning, I suddenly realized that it’s partly because I can’t picture her environment in my head. She’s walking around with a couple other students, getting to know them, making friends with them; they’re going on adventures together, doing normal high school stuff like going to games; but I can’t really build a bigger picture in my head other than the three of them standing together. What’s the weather like beyond them? Is it fall? Is the air crisp, are the leaves changing? Is it the east coast, or the west coast? The three of them cluster together in my head, surrounded mostly by fog in my imagination, because the author hasn’t provided the brushstrokes I need to complete the painting.

So that’s good to keep in mind for my own story. I like knowing how things look, feel, smell, taste. I want to know if it’s a cold night, or if the sun is burning on her bare arms. Those little details help place me in a story.

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