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On Writing YA/Middle-grade Fiction

I'm shutting down I've had it for a long time, but it's an embarrassingly old site (seriously, it looks like the Jukt Micronics site):

I feel a certain affection for it, but not $119 worth of affection. Basically it was this or a new air conditioner.

Which means that a certain amount of content that was only available there is going to need some new homes. Here's something I wrote there about the process of writing Locksmith's Closet:

In some ways, writing "young adult fiction" is just like writing fiction for regular adults, only without the profanity, sex and violence.

Well, actually with the violence. Actually with lots and lots of violence. But no sex. This is not to say that none of the characters ever have sex — some of them may be going at it like wild hamsters in heat — but the reader won't get to watch and won't be explicitly told about it afterwards. Also, the characters may use dirty words, but they will not be spelled out… as in this line from Chapter 14 — "In reply, Too Tall muttered something to the effect that at least he hadn't been beaten by any hopping incestuous copulater."

But there are certain other rules, unique to this genre, which govern the characters and plot development.

1. The protagonist must be of heroic parentage.

Okay, Lock does have heroic parents. His dad was a helicopter pilot awesome, kickass death is described in vivid detail in Chapter 12.

Then there's his mom. Don't mess with his mom. Just… don't.

So I've got that covered.

2. The protagonist must be guided by an older, wiser figure, able to advise him/her but not, ultimately, fight his/her battles.

Well, there's Lock's guidance counselor, Lucy. She's older and wiser than him. Sort of like Obi-Wan Kenobi, if Kenobi were female, blonde, under thirty, overweight and no good at fighting. Actually, not remotely like Kenobi. Forget I mentioned Kenobi. And even less like Dumbledore.

3. The protagonist's existence and function in the story must have been foretold by some sort of prophecy.

No prophecy. Sorry. He's Locksmith, and nobody ever sees him coming. He is a human sucker punch.

4. The villain must make a good-faith effort to murder the protagonist in infancy.

I blew this one off too. It didn't make sense in the context of the story, and anyway, anyone who went after baby Lock would have had to get past his mom (to repeat, not a good idea.)

5. Above all else, the protagonist must have the instincts of a hero, but must never think of him/herself as one.

All aside, this one really is important, and I'm pretty sure I nailed it.

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