If it’s one MG and YA author that has a lot on the go with many exciting things coming up, including the launch of a new novel, it’s Vanessa Barger. This woman is so talented, and if that’s not enough, she’s really sweet too! In today’s interview, Vanessa discusses how to develop a strong and believable YA voice, how she edits her work, and her tips on landing an agent.
How do you develop the YA voice in your writing? What do you do to ensure your characters are believable?
Developing YA voice, to me, is trying to write as if you were a teenager again. You have to put yourself in that situation and think of what you would have done (or wish you would have done) in that situation. To make sure my characters are believable? I work in a high school, so I always have case studies to look at. But really, it’s about running it through critique partners who are great for catching it when you might be trying to fudge something.
In your MG mystery, Superfreak, how did you ensure the use of pacing would create a page-turner?
Superfreak was difficult for me because I had to outline. I’m more of a punster type writer, and I balk at the idea of any outlines. But it was necessary to make sure that I had the clues and mystery all in place, as well as ensuring that just enough happened in all the right places to make sure I kept the reader interested.
What is your revision process like?
I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoys editing. I like cutting things out and then re-reading and realizing how much better it is. That being said, I often go back and edit as I go, depending on how the actual flow of writing is going. If I’m having a lot of trouble, I edit more. Sometimes going back over what I already have helps to jog my brain. Past that, I edit, send it to critique partners, then edit again, and send it in to the agent and see what she thinks.
What are the fundamental differences between YA and MG? What is the writing process like for each demographic?
I think the fundamental differences are generally what you’re writing. For me, (and it isn’t true for everyone) MG is all about adventure and growing up a little. YA deals with discovering who you are, and what becoming an adult might be like, as well as other more meaningful topics. Not that you can’t do that in MG, but I’d rather have more fun at that age.
How did you land your agent? Any tips for writers getting together their sub packages?
I got lucky! I submitted Superfreak to Literary Counsel and promptly forgot about it. Six months later, when I’d given up on that story entirely, they called and wanted to chat on the phone. BEST birthday present ever!
Tips for other writers? DON’T SEND IT UNTIL IT’S READY. I’m the first to admit I did this more times than I care to count. Wait. Let lots of people critique it. Wait some more. Write a great query letter. Let people critique that. THEN, when you’re absolutely positive it’s as good as you can get it, send it. Not before.
Also, everyone says this, but don’t let a rejection get you down. Move on. Send another. Publishing is a subjective business. Sometimes it’s just about getting the right manuscript on the right desk at the right time.
Learn more about Vanessa, her books, and her writing adventures here!