What Teens Love, Hate, and WANT in Literature, Part 3 by Lindsay Bandy

At last, we come to the denouement of our YA survey, what teens WANT in literature. If you are anything like me, this will read like writerly gold! I was impressed with the sophistication and reflective quality of these answers, and grateful for the honesty of these great kids. Check out parts one and two if you missed them. Hope it will be helpful to you, as well!

question makr

I asked two classes of ninth graders at CV high school the following question:

Imagine that an author is sitting down having lunch with you, ready to write your next favorite book. What would you tell them to include? What advice would you give?

Here is what they said…..

Group 1: Honors Students

  • Keep it interesting. Have a great balance of dramatics and comedies. Have with with it. Don’t go too into detail with your descriptions, but be descriptive.
  • Romance, action, unexpected death, twist at end. Make it seem somewhat realistic. Give it a good lesson we can apply to our lives. Strong plot!
  • I would tell them to make it realistic. While I do like love stories, that’s not all I want to read about. Too many authors write about how a girl’s life changes dramatically and becomes exciting once she meets and falls in love with a boy.
  • I enjoy nonfiction books about sports or anything else that I like.
  • Be diverse; don’t just have one simple thing going on.
  • I would tell the author to include lots of descriptive adjectives and to be concrete.
  • I would tell them to write something with overlapping storylines. I would tell them to include action or complex ideas that keep you on the edge of your seat.
  • A finish to the story then tell another story next books so I don’t have to read them all. Lots of detail the first time so I can see what they see. I like fantasy and scifi, so my descriptions of what I want in a book reflect the need for detail. The details may be less important in a realistic book.
  • I’d want the author to include part of their life into the story. The best writing, in my opinion, comes from those who can connect their personal thoughts to the story. Also, beware of who you’re targeting with the new story. Once you’re sure who, try to specifically reference ideas that they themselves could connect to.
  • Adventure and suspense are two things that keep me interested while reading. It’s important to recognize an audience while writing. There will be kids that only want to read fantasy or science fiction or romance. Including one or more of these ideas will either help appeal to a bigger audience, or it will completely turn some people away from it. I personally enjoy a combination of many genres. It helps me enjoy unrealistic ideas along with situations that parallel to real life.
  • Make the book relatable.
  • Action, but make it realistic.
  • I would tell them to have at least one plot twist. Have some action and suspense that the reader won’t want to put it down. A little bit of romance is always good, too. I think adding some humor would also be good. I look for all of these in a good book.
  • Romance, suspense. I would tell the author to take some viewer suggestions and just write whatever they think would be best for the storyline.
  • Action. Plot twists.
  • I would tell them to make it action-packed and emotional at the same time, and possibly, base it off of a true story.
  • Make it interesting to the point where every page is a cliffhanger. Don’t stop with the action. Don’t be too descriptive, but include enough so one can picture each event.

Group 2: Mixed ability, including lower-level/at-risk students

  • Add a quick hook that makes me want to read before the plot is introduced.
  • Battles. Keep the reader guessing.
  • Some pictures. Make it interesting.
  • Action-packed. Make it interesting.
  • I would tell them to make fantasies.
  • Make it realistic and very emotional. Make it feel like you know the characters.
  • Put more action in it.
  • Make it a romance but with some sort of issue that happens.
  • Something with a plot twist. Easy to understand. Not confusing.
  • Include real life situations and drama.
  • Put in surprises and action.
  • Make it realistic, and action.

What do you think? Were you surprised or inspired? Share your comments!

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