Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley

wildinkAt the Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference this past month I found myself in several discussions over the pro and cons of first person versus third person point of view. And invariably sometime in the discussion I would begin talking about Wild Ink, even though no one I spoke with wrote YA. But this book reaches beyond a YA genre.

There are two invaluable reasons to read Wild Ink’s second edition. First, it encompasses a thorough introduction to the diverse YA market. Second it demonstrates an excellent understanding of voice from which all writers can adapt her principles and exercises to their own audiences.

Hanley has an insightful understanding of a YA reader, which she shares through a craft viewpoint applying the concepts to theme, plot, characters, dialogue and conflict as examples of why YA is different. The YA market requires a brisk pace that is more condensed and intense than some other fictional genres, according to Hanley, which will impact how a scene is shaped and delivered.

One of the central themes for this market is the coming-of-age conflict where the character attains a new level of maturity combined with a loss of innocence. Hanley points out that for this age group it is important not to skimp on the conflict, but rather increase the tension showing all the jagged edges. Even more importantly is that the complications are honest, believable and related to the central theme of each particular story. A one size, one style does not fit all in this age group. Except for respect for your audience.

The wide range of possible topics, styles and content Hanley supplies are also shown by the interviews she includes from several YA authors in fiction and non-fiction. These authors give even more of an inside look to this genre. I found it interesting that the other common thread amongst everyone was the need to be true to the voice of the story.

I found the emphasis on voice intriguing and creative. In Wild Ink Hanley gives an outstanding Your Inner Teen Exercise to help identify where you have strengths or weaknesses identifying with the emotional range necessary for honest character development, voice, and dialogue. The questions can easily be adapted to other genres to increase understanding of characterization.

On top of this exercise Hanley gives concrete examples of voice in first, second and third person. Then she adds more excerpts of these choices in present tense/past tense as well as active/passive delivery. Great study material. And she examines dialogue both in verbal language and sub-text expanding range and effect. If you have the desire to write YA then Wild Ink will definitely give you the right tools. And even if you don’t, it is the most comprehensible and encompassing craft conversation re point of view I have ever read.

“Wild Ink aims to help you explore unknown territory, tread risky ground and bring buried dreams into the open.” Victoria Hanley

Submitted by a Christian Editor Network member.

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