Elements of Voice: How Teen Characters Announce Themselves on the Page
Young-adult novels are often distinguished by vigorous, idiosyncratic narrative voices. It stands to reason: Teenagers have fewer filters than adults; they know what they feel, and they feel acutely. In this workshop, we’ll explore how to tease a teenage voice onto the page. Participants are strongly encouraged to read my novel, The Folk Keeper, as it will be used as an example throughout the workshop.
Writing the Young-Adult Novel
“Character in any sense that we can get at it is action, and action is plot. (Henry James)
If character is action and action is plot, then a fully-realized teenaged character will turn action into plot very differently than will a fully-realized adult character. In this workshop, we’ll explore what distinguishes a young-adult novel from an adult novel, and we’ll attempt to slip past the boundaries of our adult selves in order to visit ourselves as teenagers: What were our passions, our obsessions? What did we love? What did we hate? From there, we’ll turn to character exercises to create story-worthy teen characters, then write, brainstorm, and outline our way through the major scenes that comprise a young-adult novel. Each participant will leave the workshop with an outline of the major plot points of her novel, some scenes of the novel, a solid understanding of her character, and a handful of craft techniques. Please have read my young-adult novel, The Folk Keeper.
Franny Billingsley left the practice of law twenty-five years ago to live in Barcelona and write children’s books. After a couple of years in Barcelona, she returned to live in the United States, but has never returned to the practice of law, from which she am still recovering.
She has published one pre-school picture book, Big Bad Bunny, and three fantasies for middle-grade and young-adult readers: Chime, The Folk Keeper, and Well Wished. She has two kids and two dogs, and plans to move all of them to San Miguel in the spring of 2012.
“Exquisite to the final word.” Booklist, starred review.
“Billingsley takes the time to develop a layered narrative adorned with linguistic filigree—she is one of the great prose stylists of the field, moving from one sparklingly unexpected image to the next and salting her story with quicksilver dialogue.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review.
“The magnificently dark romantic setting and lovely, lyrical language and imagery enhance a novel that is both lushly sensual and shivery.” School Library Journal, starred review.
“Filled with eccentric characters–self-hating Briony foremost–and oddly beautiful language, this is a darkly beguiling fantasy.” Publishers Weekly, starred review.
[Billingsley’s] Swampsea setting is earthy, visceral, and alive, and for all the adolescent self-hatred depicted here, there’s also a welcome hyperawareness of the physical world that Billingsley articulates with impressive poetic vigor.” The Horn Book, starred review.