Monday, June 14, 2010

Guest Post ~ Stephen V Masse

Similarities and differences in writing for adults and for YA

I’d have to admit I’m not an authority on writing for young adults.

What I do know is that it’s always a good idea to read a manuscript to a few kids before publishing. It could be an imperfect test, since your voice or personality may carry a flawed story – but in general kids will stop you cold in the middle of a sentence if logic, character, plausibility or relevance are lacking. When reading an excerpt of SHORT CIRCUS to my 12 year old cousin, she caught me on a few points that surprised me – mostly because I had been blind to them. But even when a book has been polished, edited, copy-edited and published, it would be complete folly to assume all kids in the targeted audience will enjoy it, or find it relevant.. SHORT CIRCUS has a market mostly for boys between the ages of 12 and 16 who have struggled with loss or abandonment of a parent, grandparent, or guardian. Having said that, I find it amusing that adults are getting a kick out of the book, too. One reader e-mailed me that “reading SHORT CIRCUS was like taking a hit on the crack pipe of childhood memories.”

To my mind, writing for adults and young readers is different only in the matter of choosing the subject and audience. The quality of the writing has to be excellent for either audience. Many classic stories are read by both children and adults. Obviously stories about children will be of more interest to children, and stories with adult themes will be of more interest to adults. The bottom line is for writers to trust their instincts and also trust their test readers. 

About the Author ~ 

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He wrote his first practice novel at age 13, handwritten into a school composition book.
Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing, and was author of a weekly newspaper column, "Out of Control." His first novel for children, Shadow Stealer, was published in 1988 by Dillon Press.
He also runs a home remodeling business in the Boston area, and is active in the Santa Claus Anonymous charitable fundraiser.

There's a small city north of Boston that nobody would give a second thought about if Jem Lockwood didn't open his big mouth on the first day back to school. His assignment was to write a five page composition on what he did during the summer, and he said he could write a book.
Short Circus is Jem's own story about his remarkable adventures with his Big Brother Jesse Standish and a host of neighbors and friends, plus a mysterious enemy who keeps sabotaging the swimming pond. There are bike jumping contests, fistfights, motorbikes, visits to seaside towns for festivals, and swimming in a waterfall. What begins as a glorious summer is very nearly ruined when Jem discovers that his Big Brother's rented house is about to be sold, and Jesse Standish may be forced to move away.

1 comment:

Julie P said...

Thanks for sharing--this might be one I can get my youngest son interested in!