Center of the Subculture

Emo

Even ‘Emos’ have fun.

If you write a book about Emos, I bet you won’t call them that. Does your novel follow a Psycho? Maybe you describe her as an alternative thinker. If nerds are the heroes of your story, or for that matter vandals or drug abusers, then your story—almost by definition—is trying to make them seem more heroic.

You’re writing to shift the literary ‘center’ of their subculture.

The problem faced by champions of a subculture (let’s call them ‘writers’) is that the center of it starts in the world’s metatext. In other words, the subculture already has a bad reputation… not just in our world but in other literature, in nasty jokes and riddles, and in casual putdowns from the mouths of cops and parents. The job of a YA champion, then, is to shift the center of the subculture into the story’s text. Continue reading

Feckless Fate

Authors have a choice between Fate and Suspense

Yawn

Into his or her arms she or he runs. Their love has overcome every obstacle—every racist or homophobe or job offer in Houston—to bring them back to each other, where we all know they should be. Fate is victorious again.

And that’s exactly the problem.

sundays-at-tiffanys

Alyssa Milano stops her wedding to be with her perfect love—her imaginary friend—in James Patterson’s Sundays at Tiffany’s

There are so many familiar tropes in romance fiction: the race to the airport, or the interrupted wedding. The last-minute defiance of a controlling parent to be with a lover who means so much more. All of these are fun, but even variations of them are predictable, because the characters acting them out are running their race over a generic green-screen called Fate.

And relying on Fate is a sure way to remove a key element of a story’s conflict: suspense. Continue reading

YA Fiction Runner-up!

WOWAnother season has passed for the WOW: Women on Writing Flash Fiction contest, and it’s a privilege to announce that my story linked here, Weak as Tissue, was not so weak after all. In fact, it rated as a runner-up. It’s a light coming-of-age story, told from a teen girl’s perspective, which might give my dozen fans a taste for my more involved novel, Olivia Tames Olympus.  Click here to visit the stories of the well-deserved winners and my fellow runner-ups… runners-up… run-uppers (or however that’s pluralized). I like to read one every day.