Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Lessons from a Past Erin (2)

Last week, I introduced a new feature on the blog called Throwback Thursday: Lessons from a Past Erin.

In case you missed it, these are notes that I found from my YA lit class. I've set it up to work as a different kind of discussion post. It's acting as a lesson and a discussion post in one. I'll be sharing my notes, and reflecting on them. I'll also be asking what you think of each week's topic.

Last week, we talked about the definition of Young Adult Literature, and how there is a standard definition. I also confessed that while I agree with the standard definition, I think it's more than okay for adults and people outside of the target audience to read YA.

I also gave you an assignment, and that was to think of some quality YA books. While you look at this list, I want you to see if the book you thought of meets some or all of these characteristics. We can discuss the books in the comments later.

Without further ado, I give you a list of characteristics that make a good Young Adult Novel. (Keep in mind... these are class notes from over three years ago.)

Characteristics of Quality YA Lit

  1. Multi-themed story
  2. Tension versus shock effect
  3. Memorable characters
  4. Accurate facts and details
  5. No unlikely coincidences
  6. No critic pondering 
  7. Often original ideas
  8. Memorable voice and authentic dialogue
  9. Effective, clear writing style
  10. Sense of humor
  11. No superfluous characters or wasted scenes
  12. Widespread appeal
  13. Strong openings
  14. Good closings

So looking back on this list, I've deemed quite a few YA novels as great, and they definitely didn't meet all of these characteristics. I think that's a good thing because expecting all of these in one book is a bit too much. It will only set you up for a disappointing read.

However, I do think that when an author hits more of these characteristics, his or her book will be remembered and passed from reader to reader. Nobody likes a dull book, and having more of these qualities in a book definitely leads to a very interesting book.

Class Discussion

Remember when I told you to think of a quality YA book? Well now I want you to think critically about that book. Pick it apart and put it back together again. Does it meet a lot of these characteristics? Which ones?

If you're interested in answering, there's a poll that follows. It will guide you through the characteristics while asking you about your chosen book. If you don't feel like participating in the poll, you can leave a comment with the book's title, and tell me (and everyone else reading this) which qualities your book meets. Heck you could even just write the title of the book, copy and paste the list, and paste a check mark (✓) next to the qualities the book hit. (I really don't care how you share, but just know that if you take the time to share, I will love you a million times more than I already do!) 

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I don't know about you all, but I'm pretty excited to see how our favorite books stand up to this extensive list. I know that not every single YA book will hit all of these marks, but I think it will be interesting to see which books hit most of the marks. (And maybe I'll create a graphic or something to share during the next post.)

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