Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review - Writing Great Books for Young Adults

My first installment of book reviewing is with the book Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.

All in all, this book isn't the worst thing I've ever read. Now I know that's sort of a backhanded compliment, but I do have some qualms about it. I'll list the negative first, and then the positive.

  • Typos - I know it's not uncommon to see typos in published books, even through large, reputable publishers, but I counted quite a few. I saw them in every form--missing spaces, missing words, misspelled words, repeated words. It's a little concerning to see that many.
  • Pacing - It moved too fast if you ask me. It fits in everything from coming up with the idea to gaining an agent. While all that information is vital, it was squeezed in. Which brings me to...
  • Information - the important stuff was glossed over, and the easy stuff was repeated and broken down. Stuff I already knew about was broken down into lists and had multiple pages devoted to it. Stuff I didn't quite understand had maybe a paragraph or two.
  • Current - the listings, references, etc, are current. Anything in there is "now" rather than, ten or twenty years ago. So it's up-to-date, which is a good thing for a book about getting published.
  • Style - it isn't dry, stuffy, or boring. It's got a younger voice, so it's almost relatable.
  • Appendix - there are some great things in there, ranging from a list of major publishers, to a list of writing resources.
  • Do's and Don'ts - there were some detailed lists of cliches to avoid, which I really like.
  • Focus - there is a lot of focus on YA fiction, which is good. That's what it was supposed to have.
All in all, I'll recommend this book. It's easy to get through, and it deals out a lot of useful information. That being said, I wouldn't rely on it as the only book if you're looking to get published. If anything, I'd say this should be the first book you pick up. Don't necessarily take it with a grain of salt... (oh goodness! A cliche!) Take it with a little bit more than that. Put it on your bookshelf, or at least get it out of the library. It's worth your time if you're a serious YA writer, but don't make it your only resource.

If you want some of the stuff in there better explained, I'd suggest also purchasing (don't just get this one out of the library, you'll never get through it in time to return it) The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon.

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