Choosing your Point of View

My plot for world domination has begun.
Point of view is one of the more overlooked components of young adult books. That's right, petty humans, that term your English teacher mentioned in high school that you haven't paid much attention to since then. It matters.

But I have a confession: I, too, did not much consider POV when I began my YA novel (and thus began my plan for usurping every major government in the world and crowning myself your leader). So, future minions, listen to me: I've read many manuscripts that, based on both the author's writing style and the story itself, might improve with a switch of POV.

What are the different types of POV? Do not fear. I've created a long list below of possible (and even the unlikely) POVs for your novel. Already written your manuscript? That's okay, it isn't too late to change POV if needed. Already picked the right POV? Excellent job. Perhaps when I am King of Earth I will appoint you to some minor position in my future staff. Maybe.

(Human-Friendly) POV List


I don't know why I picked the eye-clock picture.
I thought it was cool. Do I need to have a reason, human? 


I told the story.

Singular First Person POV

This is by far the most common of YA POV types. It is narration through the eyes of one character who will always speak of themselves in terms of 'I.' 

Advantages: The reader is inside the character's head, experiencing everything as they experience it. It offers an easy connection with the main character and to the story.

Disadvantages: It is very limited. The reader will only ever know things that the main character knows. For a writer, voice is very key in this POV type. The reader is inside the MC's head--they need to be well-acquainted with not just her thoughts but the way he/she thinks. 

This Might Work for you If: You need your readers to find a deeper connection with your main character. If you excel at strong voice. If you are all right with your readers being bound by the musings/maybe mistaken perspective of one character.

YA Books that use Singular First Person POV: THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, MATCHED (Book #1), THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, OBSIDIAN, THRONE OF GLASS, SERAPHINA, THE GODDESS TEST, THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, BEFORE I FALL, (Okay, so generally most YA books. You get the point.)

Somehow I mean for this picture to
represent 3rd POV. Just go with it. 

He/She told the story.

Singular Third Person POV

This type is also pretty common in YA books. It is narration following the experiences of one character, who will be described as 'he' or 'she.'

Advantages: The reader, like in singular first person POV, experiences the events of the story as the character experiences them, but in this case, the reader sees them removed from the character's head, as if they're standing beside them. Note: This does not mean, however, that the reader does not experience the character's thoughts or voice. The writer can go as deep into the character's head as they desire, but the reader will still be a separate entity from that character.

Disadvantages: Also like singular first person POV, the reader is only in the mind or observing the experiences of one character. Generally, it is a little more removed, so if may, if not executed properly, not connect the reader well enough with the character (though the same is true in 1st POV). It is generally limited. 

This Might Work for you If: You want to tell the story OF your main character, rather than have the main character tell it. If, in any way, you have a separate 'narrator' sort of character (think of a voice over in the movie that's not the main character), this would also work. If you want your readers to be less bound to the limited perspective of your main character.

YA Books that use Singular Third Person POV: HARRY POTTER (Except the few occasions when we  have chapters with a different main character, like in the beginning of books 4-7),  UGLIES.



Looks like ACROSS THE UNIVERSE cover! *Loki fan-girling*

We told the story.

Plural First Person POV

This type is more rare, but definitely not unheard of in YA books. It is the first person POV of two (You can do more, but it is not recommended because it is too many characters' minds to keep track of.) characters who tell the story back and forth. For instance, one chapter might be told through the first character, and the next might be told through the second, alternating and using 'I' for each character.

Advantages: It offers the deep insight into the minds of two separate characters. It gives more perspective into the overall story, since there are two minds experiencing it rather than one. 

Disadvantages: It can be difficult to pull off because the voice of the characters need to be very distinguished. Since the writer is calling them BOTH I, the reader may not realize that they are switching POV right away. It can lead to a fish out of water feeling in the beginning. 

This Might Work Well For You If: You have two plots in your story that converge at one point, especially if there is a romantic subplot involved between the two characters (not necessary, though). If you want both of those plotlines to still be limited by that one character's perspective.

YA Books that use Plural First Person POV: CROSSED (Matched Book #2), CODE NAME VERITY, LEGEND, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, and mine (not a real book yet, but hehe.)

Why are they wearing rain boots? Why is she holding
an umbrella. The sun is out.
Stupid human children. 

They told the story.

Plural Third Person POV

This type is probably the most rare. It is the alternating third person POVs between more than one character, anywhere from two to many. Every character is described as he or she.

Advantages: It can tell multiple story lines through many different characters, allowing the reader to see into the heads/motivations of many people in the story. 

Disadvantages: It is difficult for the reader to keep track of that many characters. Like plural first person POV, the voices of all the characters need to be distinct, but not as much so as that kind. 

This Might Work Well For You If: You have a story told through more than one perspective and you want your reader to observe their stories rather than experience them together. 

YA Books that use Plural Third Person POV: THE DIVINERS, BZRK, THE INFERNAL DEVICES series, THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, THE SEVEN REALMS series, SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS series, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS series, WICKED LOVELY, CINDER


Pretend the girl and the shadow aren't
the same person. Thank you. 

Other

There are some other POVs that deserve to be mentioned, though some are very rare.

Plural POV, alternating between first person for one character and third for another: This combines the last two main POVs that I mentioned. It might work for you if you have two plot lines but want a very distinguished 'main character.'

Omniscient: This can be done in either of the third person POV types, though I have never read a YA book that uses this. The reader follows a main character, yet is also aware of the thoughts of other characters in the scene. This may be through head jumping in the narration without chapter breaks or through the voice of a narrator who informs the reader about what each character is thinking. 

Second Person POV: This can be done in two ways. 1) The speaker addresses another character throughout the book, like in WHEN WE BROKE UP and STOLEN. 2) The reader and the character are the exact same person and referred to as 'you.' I have never seen this done in any book, let alone YA. I've only ever seen it in short stories, but I thought I'd include that all the same.

-----

There, humans! All the POV types! Let me know if I messed up any of the books I've mentioned (though Loki never messes up, of course, you may blame Amanda Foody for any mistakes), or if you think some deserve to be added to the list. 

Which ones are you using/have you used? Why did you choose that/those? 

With less than kind regards,
Loki


This Thing Called A Literary Agent


When you're a god used to embarking on harrowing adventures in Asgard, Earth can be a bit dull. I mean no offense by this statement – it's merely an observation.

But there is something I find very enjoyable here: books.

We had books in Asgard, but they weren't like the books here. Books here are mystical, captivating, and they like very much to steal hours of my time away every night.

I couldn't stop reading books once I found them.



It seemed only natural that after a while I might try writing one to see how hard it could be. Stark suggested I purchase a pad of paper and a pen and jot down my thoughts at odd times.

They were...strange at first, to say the least. I didn't know what I was doing. So I read some more and realized I needed things called characters and also conflict. Bit by bit I started to string a story together. That story turned into a full-length novel.

I wasn't planning on letting anyone read it. But of course Stark stole the pages one day and read them. When I found out, I considered smashing his head with my hammer, but then he told me it was “actually pretty good for a guy with long hair.” He said I should think about publishing it.

Great, I said. I'll publish it tonight!

Unfortunately, after several failed attempts, I realized what I thought “publishing a book” meant wasn't actually going to get it into bookstores. Stark recommended using something called the “internet” and “google” to learn more about the process. So I did!

I found out there were a couple different ways I could go about getting published. The one I decided to try involved this thing called a literary agent. I'd never heard of the term before, but google helped me find a definition from this place called The Free Dictionary:

LITERARY AGENT. (noun)
A professional agent who acts on behalf of an author in dealing 
with publishers and others involved in promoting the author's work.

Now, the way you go about contacting this literary agent is by sending out a query letter – a short, intriguing description of the book you wrote – but I'm not going into that right now. I am here to tell you what I learned a literary agent helps writers with. See, all these months later, I have an agent and she helped me find a publishing house who bought my manuscript! I couldn't believe it when it happened. And I bet you don't believe it either, so here are the top three things you should know make an agent a fantastic person to work with as a writer (presuming the agent is qualified – check their history of book sales and speak with their clients if you aren't sure):

  1. A good agent will have connections. Your agent has the connections and the know-how to get your manuscript in front of many beautiful editors at publishing houses big and small.
  2. A good agent will take care of legal matters. Your agent allows you to focus on your writing while he/she takes care of things like how much money you're going to receive in advance for your book (they try for a big number), what your royalty percentages are, and what rights you keep for yourself. Your agent is well equipped to hack-and-slash a publishing contract so you won't accidentally sell your soul to Loki. They'll work out the best deal possible.
  3. A good agent will keep you sane. Your agent believes in you. When you' ae in the throes of revisions and beating yourself over the head with your hammer because you're fairly certain your writing is getting worse, your agent will kindly remind you that you are not, in fact, a terrible writer – you're just having a bad day. He/she will help you get through it.

There you have it. I am happy to answer any specific questions about why you think you may or may not need an agent in the comments.

Happy Monday,
Thor.

Where Captain America Finds Writing Inspiration

I have no idea how to start this. Do I say hi? Ask how are you? Is this working? Stark? Don't look at me like that. You're just a guy in a metal suit, nothing else. And you're short.

Anyway. I've been here long enough to know that a lot goes on in the INTERNET, but I try to avoid it as much as I can. I watched a film the other day with these things called zombies, and I think that's what the INTERNET will make you guys. Zombies. But I discovered something incredible the other day, and I want to share it with you all, my fellow writers.

I was writing my latest manuscript the other night, and yes, I do write with pen on paper, I can't be staring at this bright screen all day. Right next to me was Thor, banging his fists on the keys of Stark's new laptop. Good thing the 'man of iron' wasn't there. I spent most of the day wandering the streets, looking for inspiration. I visited this store called Target, that had a blinding red target for a logo. And then I went Best Buy, it was dark in there, but the hum of electricity-devices was like screeching in my ears. In the end, I came home and stared out the window. But the honking of passing cars and yells of our neighbors was too much.

That's when the idea struck. What if I searched on the INTERNET for inspiration? I gave Thor a cup of coffee and pulled the laptop onto my desk. It took a while, but I soon enough, I stumbled across a website called Pinterest.

It's like heaven for writing inspiration.

Chris Evans
Me when I discovered Pinterest.
Photo taken by Thor.
That camera doesn't work anymore.

Pinterest is like Google, but with beautiful images, a little like Thor, I should say. While Google is more like Stark. I found models to base my characters off of, I found scenery to base my settings on. I found some images I already had in my mind, and while it seemed pointless at first, it was incredible how many new details I was able to add, just by looking at the picture. I think, the hardest part about navigating on the site is knowing what you're looking for. Sure, you might have a word to search for, but I've learned a thing or two I'd like to share. If you're interested in hearing it, that is. Or reading it. I have no idea how I should say this, or type this. Oh, this is killing me.

I did a search for 'fantasy scene'. There were countless images that popped up, half of them nothing close to what I needed. So instead of searching through the pins, I clicked on boards on the top left corner and bingo. A bunch of boards popped up and made searching so much easier, because whoever created the board obviously grouped like images together, so it's easier for me to glance at the board, and if I don't like what I see, move onto the next one. And when I finally find a board I like, I can be sure to find a group of images that will be useful to me. It makes Pinterest-surfing so much easier.

After Pinterest, I found another website called Behind the Name. Not only did I find names for a bunch of my characters, but I found names that fit the characters. You can find names based on the language it's derived from, but that wasn't what I found the most helpful. I found this page called Name Themes, where I could find names meaning 'dark', or 'bright', or 'brave'. It was beyond helpful. It was almost as good as Pinterest. Almost.

So there you have it. An update on what I learned on the INTERNET in a few hours. I have to run now, Stark's coming back and the last thing I need is for him to find me with a keyboard with half-smashed keys.

I'll update you with another post of what I've learned on the INTERNET next time. Hopefully. If you're interested, that is. Are you? Where do YOU find writing inspiration online?

Writing For Trends




Hello readers. Have you seen my hair today? Because let’s be honest here, it’s looking stunning.

I guess since I’m the first post I should explain a little bit about how the blog works. We have writing/book posts every Monday and Wednesday (two  members post per week) and then always something fun on Fridays. I am posting every other Monday (so obviously it’s the best day of your week now. You’re welcome), Captain America every other Wednesday, and Thor and Loki will go next week (unfortunately, yes, Loki posts too) with the same pattern. Each of our posts will have different arcs and focuses, although we may do the occasional theme week. Every other Friday starting on the 29th will be a “Truth or Dare Friday,” in which we play Truth or Dare with authors, literary agents, and book editors, or, more simply put, in which we embarrass them. On the Fridays in between we plan to make group posts that further Loki’s writing journey, as a sort of continuation of our intro post. We also hope to throw in Shawarma Book Joint Book Clubs when possible.

An interesting aspect of this blog is going to be the fact that we don’t all share the same opinions (for example, the others don’t seem to notice how good-looking I am. They’re very ignorant in that way), so you’ll get a number of different publishing and book-related perspectives from a number of different people/creatures/whatever Loki is.

Today I want to talk about something I’ve heard a lot of discussion about recently: writing for and out of trends.

Right off the bat, I love trends. I really do. It’s so interesting to me to see all of these different spins on a genre or basic plot and see the vast number of unique characters and voices that come from it. It’s true that trends matter in this industry, and it is important for writers to pay attention to them (unless you're like me and you have a fancy suit and great hair and can force editors to publish your book whenever you feel like it. *ahem*) After all, readers are what makes publishing run, and they therefore dictate what sells and what doesn’t. So if readers want a genre, that genre sells. When they don’t want it, it doesn’t. Book editors also contribute, too, and they tend to get tired of seeing genres much faster than readers do, which makes sense because they’re the ones who read so many agent submissions.

Trends matter to writers in this industry, and if you’re genre is trending, it helps you.

However, I don’t think writing specifically for trends is a great idea. First of all, if you write a book just because you want to make money from that trend as opposed to writing it because you genuinely want to write it, the quality of your book might suffer. It is also not hard for agents to tell when this is the case, and agents want passionate writers to work with, not just ones who want a quick buck. That said, though, if you’ve written a book in a genre that happens to be trending, GOOD FOR YOU! My only point is that I don’t recommend writing a book specifically because a genre is trending; write it because you want to write it, because you can’t not write it. When a book comes from the heart, agents, editors, and readers can tell. 

Another reason I don’t believe in writing for trends? We all know this industry moves slowly, but books themselves, when published, are read extremely fast. To give perspective, there are already a number of books slated for release in 2015 and we’re only in the very beginning of 2013. Meanwhile, it will take only a day or so for the readers to actually read those books. So, given all the time it should take to write, revise, revise more, query, revise more, get an agent, revise even more, (etc.) there’s a good chance that by the time you go to query your “trending book,” it might not be a trend anymore.  Worse, it might be a dead genre. *gasps from the crowd* *horror movie music plays* Yes, I said it. Dead genre. It’s a thing, and it’s real even beyond your nightmares. For those who don’t know, dead genres are genres where the trend has completely fallen off and now the majority of editors and readers are sick of it. Suzie Townsend makes a great post here giving writers the hard truth of dead genres. But if your book is in a dead genre, there’s no question it will hurt you. Does that mean the book will never, ever sell? No, but it’ll be much more difficult. If both readers and editors are sick of something, it’s going to take an incredibly awesome, incredibly unique book to turn them, and that isn’t easy to do. (Which is another problem with writing for trends: if you miss a trend, you miss it big time. So basically, if you plan to write for trends, you have to anticipate the next trend far in advance. Again, I don’t recommend it. Unless you’re me. I’m always the exception.) I wish I had good advice for writers querying books in dead genres, but I don’t. I’m too busy looking up Loki GIFs and also, I have no experience there. I would probably recommend querying the book a bit just to see if you get any interest, though, and if nothing happens, set it aside for a while. Work on something else and come back to the book when, in a few years, the genre has gained some steam. But I’m sure there are also better ways. Do your research.

In short, trends matter, but they aren’t everything in this industry. Writing for them, unless you're supremely lucky (and have good hair), will often hurt you more than it helps you.


Your favorite Avenger,

Iron Man (a.k.a. John Hansen)

P.S. Did I mention how good my hair has been looking today?

The YAvengers Operative Begins

LokiLOKI: The idea for the book came soon after
my demise. I wandered the streets of New York (as defeated villains often do), and paused in front of a book store with a display of hardcover self-help books in the window, titled How to Take Charge of Your Life. I scoffed at its mundane human ridiculousness. I was an autonomous creature, of course I was in charge of my life. Do humans often feel that way? That someone else is in charge of them?


That was my lightbulb moment.

I could take charge of their lives. Those humans with their 9-to-5 workdays and bloodshot, drooping eyes, all while guzzling americanos as they crawled out of the pits of subway stations--they needed someone to rule them.

I wasn't an idiot. I knew a book titled Let Loki Rule All of You Pathetic Creatures, would hardly hit the bestsellers list (humans are very suspicious of books such as those). I would need to disguise it. I would need to plant the idea into their heads, and to do that, I needed to write something people enjoyed to read. A novel.

More so, I would write a young adult novel. The young are the easiest to manipulate, are they not? It wouldn't be long before I had complete and utter world domination, because, I was sure, book publishing moved quite quickly.

So I wrote Growing Pains and World Domination (the title sounds quite catchy). And I did enough research to know that the next step was to submit to these agent people, only, none of them seemed thrilled with the idea of a book about a boy realizing that he was an idiot and needed someone to guide him in what to do (apparently teenagers want... empowerment?). In a fit of rage, I burned down the first bookstore I came across, which in turn burnt down a pizzeria, three apartments, and a comic book shop.

It wasn’t long before they came. The Avengers.

THOR: My foolish adopted brother needed to be stopped. My fellow Avengers and I arrived at the burning comic shop ready to capture him and secure him so he couldn't burn anything else. We kicked our way through the rubble, checking to see where he'd gone.

Captain America and Iron Man were helping a few injured humans out of the building when I saw him. Poor, petty Loki sat crying in the middle of the rubble, using a blackened comic book for a handkerchief.

And I was…confused, beyond doubt.

"Loki, what is the meaning of this?" I said.

He stopped crying and looked up at me, his eyes cold and calculating. "The stupid humans hate my work," he said, crumpling the comic book in his hand. "But no matter. I will force them to publish me. I will force the humans to buy my book until I'm at the top of the New York Time's bestseller's list."

Standing, he grabbed his staff and made for the door, but I blocked him. "No, Loki. That's not the way it works. Have you tried querying your book?"

"Yes," he spat. "They hate it. I've gotten rejection letter after rejection letter! I reject them, I tell you!"

I couldn't help laughing a little. "Well, maybe your query needs some work. Maybe you could show us what you wrote, and we could help you."

Loki eyed me with distrust. The sound of boots crunching on broken glass and brick came from behind us. Iron Man was laughing.

IRON MAN: I was busy admiring myself in the mirror (my hair was looking fabulous today) when I overheard Loki sobbing. I didn’t really want to help him but I figured this would be a good opportunity to show him the “Loki Looks Like A Girl” meme I started the other week, so I grabbed my computer and started walking. (Several females were staring at me on my way over. I winked at them.) When I saw Loki sitting in the rubble of a comic shop, clutching his teddy bear and wearing an “I EAT HUMANS FOR BREAKFAST (LITERALLY)” T-shirt, his eyes red from tears, I couldn’t help myself. I laughed. Thor turned to me, gave me a look that read “he’s all yours,” and sprinted out.

Loki and I were silent for a moment, and I took the opportunity to pull out my cell phone camera and capture the valuable Loki-crying footage. YouTube would be all over this kind of thing.


“No one wants to represent my book!” he said through his tears, not meeting my gaze. “Those agent creatures keep sending me rejections even when I guarantee my book will be an instant-bestseller! And they take so long to reply, too—I have to follow up by phone when they don’t respond after five minutes! I am even holding several movie directors hostages right now so I’m guaranteed a movie deal, but they still don’t listen! Here.” He handed me his query letter. “Force people to like it.”

I skimmed over his query and sighed. “Loki, you idiot,” I said, “opening a query with ‘Dear Pathetic Human Agent’ is not a good way to begin.” I dared a quick glance at my reflection in the camera before continuing. “Also, don’t threaten to lock the agents for eternity in your secret lair if they reject you.”

“Why not?! It isn’t like humans have anything better to do with their free time!”

I glared at him. “Have you even read a Young Adult book in your life?”

“I watched the last few minutes of that Twilight series once. The Edward Cullen guy can’t sparkle as well as I can, though. But it does not matter because teenagers are stupid, easily-corruptible creatures that can’t tell the difference between good and bad literature.”

“And you can? Your favorite book is ‘How To Take Over The World In Two Easy Steps.’”

“That’s quality stuff!”

I turned to Captain America, who was busy yelling at Siri in the corner. “I give up. You help him now.”

CAPTAIN AMERICA: They were all staring at me. "You guys aren't serious, are you?" I asked, staring back. Yeah. They seemed serious. I looked at Loki, and I actually felt bad for the guy.

I tossed the iPhone over to Iron Man. "I can't get the thing to work. Runs on some kind of electricity." And Siri is creeping me out, I didn't say.

I kicked aside some rubble and walked over to Loki.

"I guess I'll help. I'm all about perseverance and never giving up on your dreams. That's the one piece of advice that can and will take you anywhere." Stark snickered. I ignored him. I just hoped that Loki wouldn't use my perseverance to take over the world.

Hours later, when we finished cleaning up Loki's mess, I noticed him dragging a hand across his face, his mouth open in a silent wail. There was a square thing in his other hand, a tablet Stark had said, not the kind people swallowed to feel better, and a bunch of text running across the screen.

I might not know much about technology but I could assume what that meant.

"Another rejection?" I asked. He narrowed his eyes at me. I raised an eyebrow and was about to step away when he whispered a strangled yes.

"I hate to say this but Stark's right, you know. You have to entice the agents, not scare them off. They're on your side. And they're humans, just like- nevermind." Loki wasn't human. Though at that moment he seemed very much so.

I turned to the others and grabbed my shield. "We can head over to my place and go over Loki's query if you guys are ready."

I pulled my mask over my face and grabbed Loki's staff before he could. If helping the innocent was my job, then so be it. At that moment, Loki's problem seemed innocent enough. We would see about him taking over the world later. Right now, it was querying. And he needed help. Big time.

But I couldn't help but think: what if this was all a ploy? A way to get what Loki wanted? I glanced at Stark, showing off to the camera of his latest gadget, and Thor, staring longingly at his brother, and finally Loki. He was staring right at me. Did I imagine the glint in his eyes?


Thanks for stopping by the YAvengers - a brand new YA blog hosted by four writers who are saving (or in Loki's case, destroying) the world one word at a time. We hope this blog will appeal to both readers and writers as we follow Loki's journey to publication with writing tips, publishing truths, book recommendations, interviews, giveaways, and Truth or Dare Fridays along the way.

Wondering who's behind the YAvengers? Visit our "Who We Are" page for all the details.

To celebrate the launch of the YAvengers blog, Captain America was able to retrieve a copy DUALED by Elsie Chapman. Enter right after the page break. Good luck. And don't fall for Loki.