I used to think that the Dummies books were really only for, well, Dummies. It used to be a running joke between my friends and me. (“I’ll get you Dressing for Dummies if you don’t stop wearing those leotards” or “Parking for Dummies has been given awesome reviews” after the hundredth failed attempt at squeezing between two cars at the side of the road.) It just goes to show that I have proven myself right once again…ignorance is really a disease that we must strive to eliminate. The Dummies series is a godsend!
I’ve been taking some time off writing (I just sent my second book in to my publisher, so I CAN) to do some research. I love reading about writing and getting all the millions of tips that other writers have so graciously put up all over the internet. I’ve also read The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and can’t stress enough how important this book is to the storytelling community.
So during my journey of literary enlightenment, I stumbled upon the Dummies website and—drum roll please—fell in love! I would never have imagined that such professional, insightful and amazingly easy to understand articles existed. I was contemplating whether or not to keep the tips for myself but then my ‘Oooh, I found this amazing place’ syndrome got the better of me. So here are (a few of) my favourite tips from Dummies.com! (There are many things that I’ve already read somewhere on the web before, but this site explains everything so well! I was one of those kids that annoyed everyone with "Why?" so you can imagine the lengths authors have to go to to keep me satisfied.)
1. When writing young adult fiction: embrace your inner drama queen, relax your grammar, generally use shorter more declarative sentences, embrace immaturity and DON’T PREACH.
2. In creating teen dialogue: blurt things out, choose simple words (simple does not mean patronize your readers, though), exaggerate, string words in footloose fashion, make a conversation mostly about the speaker.
3. While evaluating characters and plot in young adult fiction: push your protagonist out of his or her comfort zone, each obstacle must push plot and characters forward, the consequences of failure must be dire at each stage of the plot, each scene and each chapter must contribute to overall goal, the protagonist must GROW throughout the novel.
4. Creating a character profile: have a character diary which explains looks, past, present, fears, hopes, dreams and quirks etc.
5. Remove: any unnecessary information and explanation, dialogue passages that go on forever, clunky descriptions that give too much detail, clumsy images that don’t really work, too many adjectives and adverbs.
And the list goes on! No, Dummies are not paying me for advertising. I just think knowledge should be sharedJ