How to Write a Successful Young Adult Novel – The Lunchroom Theory

hunger-games-katniss

Rexis here!

Hello internet peeps!

Last night I finally sat down to watch the conclusion to The Hunger Games. It took me awhile to catch up, sure, but it was worth the wait. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something I just adore about the franchise. Its probably the political upheaval or the fact that I have a special place in my heart for rebellion against tyranny. It could be the lust for power in the series’ villainous dictators that harkens back to World War II, a period I am fascinated with. Perhaps I just enjoy thinking about Katniss and Peeta’s celebrity couple name.

As much as I love The Hunger Games I can’t help but notice its similarities with many other recently released movies that I’m not such a fan of. Katniss Everdeen set the world on fire and Hollywood has been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle once more. With franchises like The Mazerunner and Divergent being the better known attempts. We’ve also got The Fifth Wave, Ender’s Game, and The Giver, to name a few. We’ll even find bits and pieces of the Twilight franchise strewn throughout. All of these have one particular thing in common; they are young-adult novels that have found a place on the big screen. Of course, the commonalities don’t end there.

The books these movies are based on are no failures either. We’re talking about best sellers here. (They don’t make movies from crap books.) So assuming you were interested in writing a book with a young-adult audience in mind, a good place to start would be in the examination of what these things all have in common. I feel like this is good time to mention that I am by no means an expert on writing. Hell, I barely even read. But I do love movies. And I do follow trends. And I do see patterns. So bare with me. Also, take this with a grain of salt because its really just a commentary on some movies I like.

That said, I believe we need to start with the most important aspect of your story; the high school lunchroom. All of these movies can be broken down into a very simple idea:

hslunch

Every one of these tables represents a group dedicated to killing you. Except for the guy in blue. That’s your hero.

 

“In a world where there are multiple different groups/factions/districts, Hero must discover the undeniable truth that they are the chosen one  by rebelling against said society, usually by just not fitting in.”

And that’s it!

A high school lunchroom will tell you everything you need to know about writing young-adult fiction, particularly if  you are targeting a female audience. Think back to your high school years. Remember the different cliques? The jocks, nerds, goths, band geeks, punks, stoners… whatever. Every particular group seemed stupid to every other group. Divergent hits the nail on the head with this idea. Enter Tris who just happens to NOT fit in anywhere. Am I the only one who has flashbacks while watching this movie? Draw your own parallels here, but every one of these movies sets up a high school lunchroom as its society, even my beloved Hunger Games.

Don’t believe it? Katniss is just a plain teenage girl forced to rebel against a hierarchy of fashion-obsessed metaphors that represent a “popular kid” clique she could never fit into (the Capitol). Sure its set in a dystopian future, but that brings me to my next point.

Your plain teenager with no discernible talent or skill (as to relate to most kids these days) is forced to rebel. You must set your lunchroom in a dystopian future of some type in order to facilitate this rebellion. And, as I said before, relate the rebellion to simply not fitting in. Katniss becomes a symbol of the rebellion because she doesn’t fit in with the capitol after winning the games. Thomas is the answer to a disease plaguing a society, thus he doesn’t fit in with Wicked and opposes them as they seek to use him and his friends. And we already talked about Tris.

The icing on the cake for this type of novel will be my last point. You need to have not one, but TWO love interests. Again, this is especially true when writing for girls. Don’t ask me why. I just call it like I see it. I don’t know if this is a leftover cliché from Twilight, but it works. The Hunger Games would have been considerably shorter and wouldn’t have required 4 movies if there had been only one love interest. Even The Fifth Wave got on board with this idea.

5th-wave

She spends about 5 mins of movie runtime with her brother and the other 79 hours making out with one guy while worrying about her crush on another. There’s freakin’ aliens! Stop messing around!

 

To recap:

  1. Design the aspects of your high school lunchroom set in a dystopian future.
  2. Make your main character who doesn’t fit in rebel against that society.
  3. Make it happen amidst a love triangle.

Nothing else you do in this novel will matter. You can use aliens, zombies, angry beavers, a giant robot…. Literally any reason for the world to be in a dystopian state is fine. It literally doesn’t matter who lives or dies. It doesn’t matter who your protagonist ends up with. It doesn’t even have to be very good. All you need to do is appeal to young girls (or boys, but I don’t think the market is as big) who don’t fit in, who feel rejected, or lack confidence. You are targeting the ones who just don’t understand why people do the things they do. And you are targeting the ones who feel oppressed by whatever chaotic state their particular school lunchroom is in. The more vague, the better. Because that’s what this type of writing is about. Despite the war-torn settings, these kids are just finding themselves while surrounded by metaphors for high school.

Now get out there and write a best-seller, you winner!

Batman v. Superman – Who will win?

bs

Rexis here!

Hello super friends!

 Later this week we are finally going to see the big budget production of the fight to end all fights. Two of the biggest juggernauts of comics are going head to head in a brutal bout that will decisively answer the question “Who would win in a fight; Batman or Superman?” So many endless debates will be put to rest. A million fan boy voices from one side or the other will cry out and be suddenly silenced as the credits roll.
Or will they?

The idea of these two fighting is nothing new. And while I don’t have a tally on hand because it isn’t pertinent to this post, I can assure you that the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel have seen their share of relationship troubles. This is nothing new between the pair. What’s interesting about this round of drama is that it will occur on the big screen in front of millions who may have never read a comic before. The stakes are high.

The movie is subtitled “Dawn of Justice” which represents both heroes attempting to exact justice on one another. Batman is trying to stop a god-like figure who he believes was responsible for the annihilation of metropolis; a man who could literally do whatever he wants. Superman, on the other hand, sees Batman as a vigilante law breaker deserving of prosecution. They both have valid points which makes it easier to side with one or the other.

Regardless of their motives, there is something more important going on here. The Dark Knight stands as a testament to the best the human race has to offer when facing absolutely insurmountable odds. The Last Son of Krypton is a figure we can aspire to, a representation of hope that is alien to us. The winner of this battle comes with a price. We either lose our humanity or our hope. If Batman crumbles, it would be a metaphor for humans meeting their end at the hands of something we cannot control. If Supes falls, it would be a metaphor that hope has no chance in this world.

I feel I can safely predict the outcome of this battle. There will be no clearly defined winner. That may seem obvious given the trailer, but I feel too many people are going to walk into the theatre expecting something different. Fox isn’t going to green light a movie that would kill off hope or humanity. Likewise, they aren’t going to alienate half the DC audience by choosing one character over the other. It just doesn’t make sense emotionally or financially.

The real story in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, in my opinion anyway, is going to be the origin of Lex Luthor. This is a man with no sense of right and wrong, for whom the ends always justify the means. He is a billionaire, an entrepreneur, a business mogul, and he will stop at nothing in his conquest for power. Luthor is not content with simply controlling the free world (he becomes president at one point). He wants to be a god. His jealousy of what Superman can do is what drives him to reason that if a man can defeat a god, then he is more powerful than god. His arrogance and greed are the very things that will unite Batman, Superman, and their audience (and Wonder Woman).

This is not a battle between humanity and hope. This is a fight against everything that is wrong with our society embodied in Lex Luthor.

As with most comic book movies, a lot of people are going to be disappointed by what they see (my wife already hates this version of Batman). I prefer to stay open minded and I am looking forward to seeing yet another representation of one of my favorite villains. Jessie Eisenberg is an interesting choice, but I have a feeling Michael Rosenbaum will still be my favorite Lex. I’m also mentally preparing myself for a huge cliffhanger ending after a long round of heroes barely hurting one another. Still, I’m going to enjoy every minute of this movie! I just hope the rest of the world can put aside their preconceptions and try to enjoy it as much as I will. Try to forget about who would actually win because you won’t be getting that answer. I feel like you’ll be getting something so much more meaningful.

Ghostbusters 2016 Trailer – Remake? Reboot?

ghostbusters2016-1

Rexis here!

The new Ghostbusters trailer is out and I am already livid! Not about the movie, of course. The movie looks just fine. I’m not one to judge an entire work based off the trailer. Something about a book and its cover. You get the gist.

What I’m mad about are the scores of MORONS who don’t know the difference between a remake and a reboot, either of which this movie is not! A simple scroll through ANY comments sections regarding this trailer will prove my point. What is it with these idiots clogging up perfectly good feeds where I would love to have a decent conversation on the merits of the movie and the idea of bringing back the franchise?

Listen, let’s just get right to the meat of this angry, albeit short, post. I’ve got some definitions for you to learn, and feel free to point your “friends” over this way as well.

Reboot – This is what happens when a franchise stagnates and you have to start all over again. This is what you get between Spider-man with the Tobes and The Amazing Spider-man with that other guy who sucks at slinging webs. Simple right? Another example, you say? Sure. The Dark Knight Trilogy. He’s no George Clooney. Amirite? Michael Keaton? How many reboots does the Batman need?

Remake – To COMPLETELY replicate the first movie. Every Dracula movie after the first Dracula movie is a remake (unless its a sequel to a remake). If its the same exact story and characters with new actors, new effects, a new director, then its a remake. You can also see this in a lot of Japanese films remade in America like The Grudge or The Ring. On a side note, Japan has revealed a deep rooted fear of little girls with long dark hair I didn’t know I had in me.

Retcon – This is a term that is more common to comic books than movies, right up until X-Men: Days of Future Past which involved time travel that wiped the events from all the previous movies completely out of existence. The franchise continues on with its storyline afterward.

Prequel – It involves events that happened in the past tense! Star Wars had prequels. I’m sure you’re all aware….

Sequel – It comes next in a series. Back to the Future II is a sequel to the first and a prequel to the third. What’s so hard about this?

So where does the new Ghostbusters fit in? Can you guess? Too slow, Sanic! Its a sequel! Seven seconds is all it takes before the trailer references the events that happened 30 YEARS AGO! They acknowledge that the first two Ghostbusters movies happened, effectively making them canonical. This is no retelling, no rebooting, no remaking. It has an original story, new characters, and happens in an established franchises universe! This is a SEQUEL, and the third in the series!

These people make my brain hurt!

Now that you’ve learned the difference, you are free to go spread how much you hate the movie already, based only on the trailer, because its popular to do that and will get you Twitter followers for some reason. Just try not to look like an illiterate idiot while doing so. I can deal with the hate, but the misunderstanding of simple English makes me want to throw myself off a bridge. (If English isn’t your first language, you get a pass. But after reading this, try to get it right or no one is going to take you seriously.)

/rant off