At Crime Bake today, Master Class, “Writing the YA Mystery”:
Peter Abrahams skipped deftly past trying to precisely define “young adult” (YA) versus “middle grades,” and dug into the heart of good mystery writing: Even if you don’t outline your book in advance (and he doesn’t), understand the entire crime before you begin. That way, you’ll be able to meet the bar set by the first of his mom’s teachings about writing (Enid’s Rule #1 — see the end pages of Abrahams’s award-winning YA mystery REALITY CHECK): “Organization is everything.” If you understand the crime, you’ll be able to reach the ending of the book you’re writing.
Another segment I jotted down applies to all powerful mysteries, and YA readers of course deserve the best ones; Abrahams said, “It’s all about conflict, raising the stakes, and raising the ante.” (See Enid’s Rule #2 and #3: Fiction is about reversals. Torment your protagonist.)
Best of all, and something I know I’ll cling to during my own next round of revision: “Just make it as good as you can,” this author urged. “They (publishers) are looking for good, and if it’s good with a few things they can’t work with, they’ll still take your book.”
Last words: “Just love it, that’s all — because the business of writing is very hard.”
I loved this Master Class. Worth every moment.