After looking back through the screenwriter's classic text Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, I jotted down some notes on key points that are really relevant for YA writers today.
*"...liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story" So true for any storytelling.
* A great way to get the reader to like your lead character is to have him/her do something humanizing/kind like saving a cat in the opening scene (think Katniss taking her sister's place in The Hunger Games).
* You need to be able to sum up "what is this about" in a single short logline. Novels are no different since a book often needs to be sold based on a cool title, a picture that can sum up the point, and a paragraph.
* A compelling logline is based around irony.
* You have to have a hero/main character (or two) for us to connect with.
* Protagonist must have a PRIMAL (survival, hunger, love, death, etc.) motivation that is what will make the hero succeed.
* After determining the PRIMAL motivation for your hero, now look to structure. Blake Snyder has created an awesome 15 beat single page document that is well worth checking out. If you're someone like me who loves a great simple worksheet, this one is for you as we know that many great writers use screenwriting technique to get an engaging plot.
* Snyder suggests writing out each scene on a card and that there should be 40 cards total divided up between Act One, Act Two (part one), Act Two (part two), and Act Three. The cards should be placed there. He recommends using them to chart plot and emotional beats. Writers often use similar cards on Scrivener to great success.
* "Pope in the Pool" trick is a nice way to bury backstory. The basic premise is that you make the scene so funny (a Pope in a pool) that the information dump being delivered by a character isn't that boring anymore; the longer backstory piece just serves as a deadpan counterbalance to heighten the comedy occurring in the action.
* Avoid "Double Mumbo Jumbo." In world-building with fantasy/sci-fi you only have so much suspension of disbelief. If you push the line too far or are inconsistent with your imaginary world's rules, your reader won't trust you.
* Avoid too much "laying pipe" which means taking too long to get to the action. If you're 25 pages in with setup, you've gone wayyyyy too long & you've just killed your audience off.
* Avoid "too much marzipan." Marzipan is delicious in small doses, but if you keep adding more and more and more and overdoing the awesomeness of something it overwhelms and ruins it.
For the rest of the
awesome tips, you'll have to get the book (which I highly recommend) and get writing!!!