Episode 65: YA and the Khaki Pants Man

In this episode:

Today on Mom Writes, Mel gets to be the sacrificial rabbit again when she learns that a mere 4 complimentary lines about a secondary character turns him from a nice guy into a love interest. Whoa. 

How did that happen? According to Jennie, when you spend a long time (even four lines!) describing the way someone looks, that's what stands out to the reader - and the reader's brain says "That's what I need to remember about this! Look at those khaki pants and messy curls and a lopsided smile!" Mel merely intended to make him likable, but when writing descriptions--especially introductory ones--it's important to pay attention to what the reader is going to pick up on, and write your character's reaction with intention. In this case, Mel's protagonist needs to pick up on the fact that this secondary character really is a nice guy - a nice, platonically interesting guy. 

"In YA, all the things about human nature (am I lovable, am I desirable, what's my relationship with my friends, my parents, what am I going to be) - all the big questions - are happening right now." - Jennie Nash

We also get into a discussion of what makes YA vs Adult. What's the difference? It can be hard to pin down. In YA, the themes we're paying attention to are things readers are going to care about up to ages 18, 19 - things that are different than what a 25 or 35 year old would be concerned about. Mel gets some great advice about weaving in the seriousness of her characters' situations and turning up the adult in her adult novel (and not necessarily in a sexy way!). As Jennie says, it's more about Mel needing to embrace the seriousness and the BIGness of her novel's implications. Embrace what you have going, and don't let your story or your characters off the hook.