Any time a new book makes the transition from Wattpad to the printed page, you can pretty much guarantee I will add it to my TBR pile. If that book is a sweet YA romance? It moves a little closer to the top.
The Upside of Falling by Alex Light is the epitome of the sweet, adorable young adult romance that is perfect for those cool spring evenings, with a hot tea and a warm sweater. Its like literary comfort food, and checked all the boxes for an overall enjoyable read.
Check out the blurb (courtesy of GOODREADS):
It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.
Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.
Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?
If you're looking for gripping, frantic page turning, this isn't one of those books. The hook is the 'fake relationship sparks real romance' trope, the climax is more like a foothill than a mountain ascent, and the characters are a little too 'unflawed' for me. The handsome jock that is actually super sweet and kind? The bookish girl who doesn't have a dark past she's running from? It feels almost too safe, despite each character having personal issues they must navigate.
That isn't to say it wasn't a great read. It was! Brett is the boy we all wish existed in real life, and Becca is basically most of us book nerds in MC form. It is a slow burn, the way they learn to lean on each other, and slowly break down their walls and let each other in, but still satisfying.
I definitely recommend this book if you are looking for comfort food in book form, and YA is your jam. Grab a drink, a blanket, and this book, you'll be good to go.
When I first started writing, I had little to no idea on how to craft a character arc, or what was involved with plot development and appropriate process. I simply wrote what I felt, what I saw in my mind, and hoped for the best.
My former agent taught me about GMCs (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) and how they apply to storytelling. These aspects establish your characters progress through your story, and given depth to their actions.
This technique provides your character with a Goal (what they want), Motivation (why they want it) and Conflict (what is holding them back from achieving their goal), with both internal and external issues. Consider this early on, and it will help you develop your characters arc as they move through the story.
This is what your character wants. It can be something as simple as getting in to their dream college, or to survive a life or death situation. This is what drives everything they do through your story, so make it something significant, and that they hold to throughout. Readers may share similar goals to your MC, depending on the type of story you write, so consider this as you develop their goal.
External goals are things that are outside of the character themselves. They are external to the character, with external effects to reaching that goal.
Internal goals are just that; internal. Emotional, cognitive, feeling. They can still be attached to another person, such as forgiving someone for wronging them, but much of the goal is felt within the character themselves.
Example: In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wanted to get back to Kansas. That was her goal. To go home.
When writing about this particular aspect, try to be as in depth as possible. Why do they want what they want? Why that school? Why do they want to solve that crime? This creates another level to your character and who they are, by describing why they feel as they do.
There are times when their motivation isn't necessarily their own, either. Take Wattpad hit The QB Badboy and Me by Tay Marley. Drayton's goal to go to college in Dallas was not his own. It was his fathers, and yet, it was a still a goal with its own motivation. The conflict, was that he didn't actually want it for himself. When you aren't sure how to apply these steps, look at some of your favorite stories and break them down. It can help clear the fog.
This is a step that you can have some fun with. What is stopping your characters from reaching their goals? Is it self doubt? Is it a rival? These conflicts can create additional levels to your story depending on their reason and place in the tale.
Again, these are internal and external, just as with the goal and the motivation. Using the chart at the top of this chapter can help you keep yourself organized.
These considerations do not just belong to your MC, either. Your antagonist plays a role in your MC reaching those goals, and they have their reasons for it. They, too, have their own specific GMCs that work within the storyline, so during this planning phase, be sure to fill in the GMC chart for all significant characters.
If your story is a multi POV, such as One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, the GMCs need to be completed for all characters, as each have their own path in the tale, own goals and motivations.
This is one of the most significant tools in writing a well rounded story, and developing your characters arc through the pages. Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, this is one step you shouldn't skip.
First, a little backstory.
I first heard about this particular story years ago during a Twitter pitch event, #pitmad. One of my favorite things to do during these events, rather than stalking my own notifications hoping for agent and editor likes, was to scroll through the pitches and swoon over all the books that were being written.
It was here that I first learned about The Missing Sister, and Elle Marr. Her pitch grabbed me by the throat, giving me chills in only 140 characters (this was before the 280 extension). We followed each other, cheered each other on, and when she announced the book was going to be published, I scheduled the date on my calendar and started my countdown.
And she didn't disappoint. Marr created a captivating, chilling tale from page one, following Shayna through the streets of Paris as she searches for her missing sister, Angela, who is presumed to be dead. The only clue to spark her certainty that it is not her sister lying on a slab in the morgue is a note on a whiteboard, written in a secret script devised by the twins in childhood: Alive. Trust No One.
The descriptions of Paris life, from the streets to the culture to the catacombs (which feature strongly through the tail) add a new flavor to the mystery and thrilling chase as Shayna wonders who to trust, if anyone, and is on a desperate race against time to find her sister.
Check out the blurb (courtesy of GOODREADS):
Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…
Alive. Trust no one.
Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.
As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…
If you are looking for a captivating and chilling debut, throwing you onto the streets of the city of lights, and love trying to guess who is behind the mystery, this is your next MUST READ binge!
Tweet Cute is just that. Undeniably cute, with all the YA tropes we love! Enemies to friends, to a little bit more, all wrapped around the excitement of a Twitter feud.
Author Emma Lord brings you to the streets of New York City, and into the lives of Jack and Pepper; two private school polar opposites who find themselves unknowingly going head to head in a battle of the tweets after Pepper's family's powerhouse fast food chain steals a recipe from Jack's family's local eatery. The antagonism is on point, just like the flirting that makes you laugh and then swoon.
Check out the blurb (courtesy of GOODREADS):
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
If you're looking for a sweet, humor laden YA read to brighten your quarantine blues, check out this debut release from Emma Lord. And just a hint: have grilled cheese supplies handy, because you're going to want one....or twelve!
This could possibly be one of the hardest parts of writing. Taking those first few steps to putting your words, and worlds, onto the page.
This is the part that comes before the plotting, before the pantsing. It is the basics, taking those swirling ideas that aren't completely formed, and making sense of what they could become. There are no easy answers, and no magic formula for writing, but there are a few little things that are somewhat universal.
When I start to come up with a new idea, I usually let it simmer in my mind. It could be a few days, a few weeks. Some even for months, until more solid ideas take form. Then comes the page.
Because it always starts with a blank page.
This particular part doesn't have a true guide involved. It is pretty simple. Sit down and write down the ideas that you have. They don't have to be in order. They don't have to be full sentences, or even make sense. This is the part where you just get whatever has been haunting you onto the page in any form you can.
Once you have those basics down, the parts that you see clearest, try to build around them. Expand each item, whether it be into a scene, or a character description. And remember, even if you are a plotter, don't worry about an outline just yet. This is just about sorting through ideas.
Some points to consider in this stage include the following:
Genre - When it comes to writing, your genre dictates much of your story. There are rules for each, from word count to plot direction. Things within this section will also include specifics about characters, such as age. Young adult, for example, requires characters to be aged 13-18, while New Adult is 18-24.
Setting - Where is your story going to take place? In the city? Country? This may change as the story progresses, but a general idea of the wheres and whens are important. If you are writing a historical tale, research is key! Readers are keen observers for consistency and accuracy when it comes to historical events, so if you're looking to venture into the past, do so with care and attention to details.
Point of View - First person? Third? Again, this is an important aspect to consider in your writing. Most people have a preference that carries throughout all their work, while others jump from one to the other depending on the tale itself. For me, I find that first person lets you live the story through the eye of the character, where third person allows observation from a distance. If you aren't sure of your preference, try writing a few scenes that are clearest in your head in both first and third person. It can help you find your rhythm, and your comfort zone.
Characters - This is another big component, before you even start the story itself. You need to learn your characters as if they were actual people. They need to be multidimensional, progressive and driven, because in the end you want readers you care what happens to them. To build a relationship with them, and cheer for them. Things to consider with character aspects include the physical such as hair color, eye color, build, height, etc. Others are personality. Outgoing? Quiet and reclusive? And how will these aspects effect their journey through your story?
Conflict & Stakes - Hands down, this is the biggest part of the story. Because no tale is complete without conflict and stakes. A good way to develop this particular section is through GMC outlining, which is Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Each main character needs a goal, something that motivates them towards that goal, and a conflict restricting their success in reaching it. I will cover GMCs more thoroughly in another chapter, but during this early stage, jot down ideas for the stakes and conflicts for each main character in rough form to be considered when moving forward.
Rules of Conduct - Writing allows you freedom to build a world and do what you want. But it is always within reason. Even with fantasy and science fiction, where it would appear that you have little to no limits, that is a misconception. There are always limits, and they come from you. Once you set rules for your story, be sure to stick with them. For example; in Twilight, it was impressed throughout the series that newborns were blood thirsty and out of control. That once you become a vampire, you cannot bear children. Over and over these facts were stressed, and yet, Bella was able to keep her family, have a child, and her control right to the end. While some loved the fact she got everything she wanted, others pointed out the hypocrisy of that fact. So be sure, if you set certain limits within your story, stick to them. Or, if you do wish to break them, show due cause and reason for doing so. Not just for a happy ending.
These are just a few aspects to consider when you're ready to get your words onto the page. There are no restrictions, no limits, no rules in this part. Its freedom personified, and can be done on paper or your computer. I have done both, depending on the story and the complexity in the early stages. Get the ideas down, and then we will move on to putting them in place.