9 rules I use to write YA fiction

1. I never choose my next story; instead I let the story choose me.

Why: because if it doesn’t choose me, I just walk around my apartment, eating snacks and thinking I should rather be a plumber!

2. I don’t start working on a story until I can summarize it in a single simple sentence

Why: to have a clear compass I can use anytime I get lost during writing and resume walking around, eating snacks and thinking plumbing would have been a very decent career indeed

3. I outline the story very precisely, and then I completely forget about the outline while writing

4. I let my characters act and speak freely; I never impose a line of dialogue or an action on them.

Why: because it’s incredible the stuff they come-up with when you let them improvise!

5. I stick to themes that were important to me when I was a teenager (romance, the on-going war against adults/parents, girls, rebellion against the machine, sex, the supernatural etc.)

6. I don’t write for a given audience or market. I write to impress the kid/teen I used to be, and I try to make him laugh, because he was a bit of a clown too.

7. I try to imagine three of four highly dramatic/climatic moments in the story.

Why: because sometimes, I keep writing just to be able to reach one of those moments

8. During the story, I try to transform everything from one thing to its opposite (the weak become strong, the strong become weak, the living become dead and the dead come back to life, etc)

Why: because a good story is always about something transforming into something else; caterpillars realized that millions of years ago

9. This is not a rule, but a fact: whenever I start a new story, I feel like I’ve never read or written a single sentence in my entire life, and I’m scared shitless that I will never be able to write ever again… and then, I think of plumbing and go back to rule number 1

** This is a reply to a post by Cheryl Klein of Brooklyn Arden, published there and there. Thanks Cheryl!


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