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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Author Insight: Relationship Troubles

What is the most difficult type of relationship to write – platonic, familial, or romantic – and why?

"All of them have posed problems for me at one time or another!"- Elizabeth Scott, author of Grace.

"They are all challenging in their own way. I have the easiest time with romance, the hardest time with casual friendship." - Heidi Kling, author of Sea.

"Romantic, because I think that at sixteen/seventeen, our idea of romance and how we go about it is completely different from how we view romance as adults.  So for me, it's hard to shut off that logical part of my brain sometimes, and just let things play out how they will." - Scott Tracey, author of Witch Eyes.

"I would say platonic between a girl and a boy. I think those type of relationships are hard to come by. Usually one person will develop a crush on the other one and therefore the relationship will no longer be platonic." - Danielle Joseph, author of Indigo Blues.

"It’s not the type of the relationship that’s difficult, it’s the level of specificity. Generic relationships pollute the shared atmosphere of the YA novel. For that matter, so do generic worlds." - Margaret Stohl, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"Platonic, I think.  Fiction is usually predicated on tension.  To paraphrase Tolstoy, dysfunctional families are all dysfunctional in their own, unique way .  This makes for a lot of material and a lot of layers of tension.  And for a romantic relationship, sexual tension can always provide material and also, as a culture, we consider romantic relationships less disposable that platonic relationships.   So there is more relationship building that is required to demonstrate increase the stakes and to explain why walking away from a platonic relationship can be so painful." - Swati Avashti, author of Split.

"Probably familial, since so many young adult novels neglect parents or siblings as well-rounded characters. There's always the cliche orphan protagonist, or better yet, the character whose parents are so clueless and/or annoying they get avoided. I don't think all parents are like that, so why should they be in YA?" - Karen Kincy, author of Other.

"Familial is hardest for me by far, even though I love to write about families.  It's just so difficult to capture the amount of history a family has.  In other kinds of relationships, it's much easier to show that the characters are still learning about each other as they go along.  With family, you have to show people learning about each other *despite* this whole matrix of things they already knew." - Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement.

"I love writing romantic relationships and I think family comes easier to me.  But friendships are harder for me to write because they aren’t the main relationship focus in my books, so it’s harder to make the friendships not fall by the wayside.  I do get to explore friendship more in The Lost Saint than I did in my first book." - Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine.

"I’d have to say romantic, because it is very difficult to show two characters falling in love. Romance is so complex and when it’s more genuine than love-at-first-sight, making it feel real is very hard to do. Obsession and attraction are very different from real, slap-in-the-face true love. True love takes time and is built on a foundation of acceptance, trust, and a deep connection between two characters. You have to write patiently to pull it off." - Courtney Allison Moulton, author of Angelfire.

"I think I have the worst time with the romantic. I don’t want it to be cheesey. I want it to be strong and real. But it’s all too easy to make the relationship too silly or too over-the-top. It’s easy to make it unbelievable and come out of nowhere. In other words, it's easy to write it badly." - Diana Pharaoh Francis, author of Bitter Night.

"Of these, I think that writing familial relationships can be most challenging for me. They are often chaotic and multi-layered with a lot of complicated history behind them." - Mindi Scott, author of Freefall.

"I don't think it's the type of relationship, I think it's a factor of the characters involved. If the two characters don't have chemistry, it's going to be harder to write them falling in love." - Diana Peterfreund, author of Rampant.

"I think I'd probably have to go with families. I've dated and had lots of different types of friends, so I know more about those kinds of relationships. But I only have one family, and often times I'm not even sure what our issues are or where they come from. And you never really get to see the way other families operate; things are always a little different with an outsider there. I think that makes it harder to write families, because the issues are so hidden away from sight." - Anastasia Hopcus, author of Shadow Hills.

"I think that parental relationships can be tough to navigate when writing YA:  as a writer, you’re struggling with the ability to make the plot happen without the parents’ involvement, which isn’t so easy unless the protagonist is a [de facto] orphan or a student in boarding school. My protagonist is neither, and capturing her family dynamic was a challenge." - Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

"I’m going to cheat and say that it depends on the characters you’re writing.  Some characters have strained relationships with family but excellent friends.  Some have hottie boyfriends but catty classmates.  But if I must choose one, I’ll go with platonic relationships.  Flirting is easy and fun to write, and family members have that whole balance-of-power thing.  But writing a good, likable, loyal friend who doesn’t outshine your main character is a challenge!" - Kristin Tubb, author of Selling Hope.

Come back Thursday to find out what relationship the rest of the authors think is most difficult to write!
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