By Cyn Balog
Paranormal young adult novels have taken the world by storm since TWILIGHT unleashed its sparkly vampires upon the world. Six years later, the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Last year, Barnes and Noble even created a special section for paranormal novels in the YA aisle, separating them from the dwindling number of contemporary realistic novels. Because teens are still buying them up like crazy, paranormal submissions are overrunning NYC like a swarm of zombies.
So how do you make your paranormal novel sparkle without the help of Edward Cullen?
First, a fresh concept is essential. Many concepts are overdone. Vampire books are still being released today (Meg Cabot’s newest is a vampire novel), but in order for yours to really stand out, you need to be Meg Cabot. If you’re not, you really need a completely new twist, which is hard to accomplish considering how many vampire books are on the market these days. Angel books, fairy books . . . all of these can be done, but you need to keep abreast of what is already out there and then strive to be different.
Secondly, keep in mind that young adult books have evolved considerably in the last ten years. Whereas once the typical young adult book was 50,000 words and fairly simple, now, readers expect longer books with many plot layers. These books are not unlike adult books. Actually, the only major difference is that the main character is a teen. If you are thinking of writing YA, you should at least read a dozen recent YA books to understand what the market is like.
Thirdly, do not be afraid to do something crazy. YA as a genre is willing to take more risks, which is why I love writing it. So experiment with new ways of telling your story. Want to write it chronologically backwards? Go for it. Want to have a tree be one of the viewpoint characters? Try it. Editors are much more willing to accept the strange, because teens as a whole are willing to accept the strange. So don’t be afraid to go wild and really have fun with it!
Cyn Balog is the author of young adult paranormal novels FAIRY TALE (Delacorte), a 2010 RWA RITA finalist for best romantic fiction, and SLEEPLESS, which Kirkus called “a lovely read.” Her latest novel, STARSTRUCK, releases on July 12. Two more novels, TOUCHED and DEAD RIVER will be released soon. She lives in Bucks County with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.cynbalog.com.