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Ryan Graudin Answers Your Ask a Pub Pro Questions:
1) In developing your own writing skills, which have you found to be more useful? Writing books? Workshops? Critique partners? None of the above? I don't have a lot of money to spend and would love to know where to get the most bang for my buck.
I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to write, so I had the good fortune of taking lots of writing classes/workshops from high school on. That being said, you should not have to spend lots of money (or any at all) in order to hone your writing skills. Reading is the most important tool! The more books you read, the more your brain automatically ingests the structure of stories and narrative! Even after years and years of practice, I can automatically see improvement in my own writing if I’m reading a really amazing book. Another thing I consider essential in the writing process is feedback. Critique partners, beta readers, workshop groups, editors… you need those extra eyes if you really want your writing to shine. You shouldn’t have to pay for the first two. CPs and beta readers can be found pretty easily on websites like querytracker.net and absolutewrite.com
2) I'm writing an alternative reality historical and am not sure what the accepted norm is for how much to deviate from the true history. Are there general accepted guidelines for how much of the story can deviate from history vs how much to keep true?
What a timely question! My alternate history novel Wolf By Wolf just made its way out into the world! In terms of guidelines, there’s no hard and fast rule out there. I would say the most important thing to keep in mind while writing alternate history is that you have to make your world believable, or at least, help your reader suspend their disbelief. Think about the implications of the historical events you’ve changed; both large scale and small. My take on alternate history was to envision a world where the Axis Powers won WWII. In order to do this effectively, I had to research not just the time period, but the hypotheticals surrounding it. The theories of military strategists on how Hitler could have defeated the Allies. I also had to do a lot of research on Hitler’s vision for the world once he won—a New Order that, thank God, never came to pass. I then had to take what I knew and weave it into my narrative in a way that would make sense to the reader. As long as you allow your reader to believe in the world you’ve created, you’re doing your job! Deviate away!
3) For a YA to sell well, does it have to have a strong romance? Can a relationship based on best friends or siblings sell well?
I love exploring relationships between siblings and best friends! I think the reason romance is so popular in YA is because that being a teen usually involves a romance/infatuation of some kind. (I know it did for me!) That being said, don’t write something into your story just because you think it will help the book sell. Teens can tell when you’re being disingenuous. Write the book you want to read, and chances are that teens are going to want to read it too!
4) I've been working three years on a YA dystopian that I love! Now, that I'm almost ready to submit, I hear no one wants them. Is this true? A critique partner suggested I try to switch it to an alien scifi. I think I could do it, but would that help its marketability any?
Unfortunately, I do think that most agents and publishers are avoiding dystopian. This often happens when the market gets too glutted with a single genre. For a dystopian to do well now, it would have to have a really, truly strong and original hook.
Go with your gut on this one. If you feel that alien scifi is the way you need to take the story, then go for it. If you feel that you love the story so much and don’t want to change it, then keep it the way it is. Changing a story just so it will be marketable has rarely worked out in authors’ favors.
About the Book:
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, they host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The prize? An audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball in Tokyo.
Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele's twin brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move.
But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and stay true to her mission?
From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.
Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads
About the Author:
Website | Twitter | Goodreads
-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers