This post might anger you. This post may also help you. This post could also teach you.
Here’s the problem about being online since fourth grade (which was roughly 2001-2002 for me): you have seen it all. If you remember my post from August about Twilight, you know that I believe that time is literally a flat circle and we will have another vampire era soon-ish. But one thing I have noticed is that anyone who has published from 2016 and onward clearly learned about the YA trends for books during 2006-2015.
So did I. Which is why, for this month’s theme is about what we have learned with writing and whatnot, I want to take a quick look into a few of the authors who helped shape who I became as an author but also as a person. They always say that good writers are also readers and during that time, I read. I read a lot. There was always a stack on books in the bathroom so I could read there. I would read in bed, at school, in class. And there are a few authors that helped me along the way. Let’s meet them. (I’m going to skip Twilight. We already have gone over that.)
Okay technically Lemony Snicket was my elementary school years, but the series ended when I was nearing the end of middle school. These books were some of my favorite books. Every book release, I was desperate to find out what happened to the Baudelaires. And then it ended and I felt a huge void in my life. These books were an adventure for me. I still haven’t watched the Netflix series (the Nickelodeon movie left such a horrible aftertaste) and eventually will. But for now here is what I learned from these books:
Keep your reader guessing so you want to learn more.
If you are of a certain age, you know the words Gemma Doyle and instantly you are transported to Victorian England and a finishing school full of secrets. The trilogy of books is honestly one of my favorites. I had to buy them second hand recently since they are pretty much out of print. But here is what I learned from these books:
Give your readers a main character who is not only memorable, but a group of friends who are equally memorable.
The Mortal Instruments series is still very, very popular. The first series has been adapted twice: once as a film and the other as a Tv series. The other books in the expanded universe are equally as popular. And to think, Cassandra Clare began as a fic writer! If you were on the Internet around the time of the first books, you know what I’m talking about. But now looking back, the fact that all of these books are interconnected and there are still more on the way? That’s amazing. Here’s what I learned from these books:
Your fans will stay with you for a long time because they love your characters and what to know what happens.
Uncle Rick. This man is incredible and to this day, people are still discovering his books. The PJO fan base is huge and thriving which is incredible considering the series is nearly 20 years old now. We all know about the movies that were…bad. But fans and Uncle Rick never gave up and now we have the Disney+ series being made. Over time, Uncle Rick has listened to feedback from fans and instead of dismissing them, he has taken their words to heart and used that to create a space that is so…passionate. Here’s what I learned from Uncle Rick:
Persistence is wonderful and so is listening to all of your readers so that they feel seen.
The Queen of YA, Sarah Dessen was one of the most popular YA authors from 2005-2010. I read one of her books from the library and from there I was hooked. I own every single book she has written. The Truth About Forever is one of my all time favorite books. Even though each book is a standalone, the towns of Lakeview and Colby where the books are usually placed feel like old friends. And that is what I love about the books. Here’s what I learned:
Sa-woon worthy boys are great, but the setting is also a character.
The summer of 2009 I was at Barnes & Noble when I saw a cover of a girl with two boys. And for some reason, I decided to pick it up and read it. I was hooked. I fell in love with Belly and her choice between Conrad and Jeremy. (I’m a Conrad Girlie) After that series finished, I kept Jenny on my radar and sure enough, she graced us with Lara Jean Song Covey. Here’s what I learned from Jenny:
It is okay to be nostalgic about things.
The third Green Brother, Maureen Johnson (not to be confused with the character of the same name from Rent) is the Internet auntie. Maureen knows pretty much everyone from that era. And yet, the books I adore from Maureen are The Shades of London series and Truly, Devious. And I believe it took Maureen until Shades to realize the books she was meant to write. And for your information, The Shades of London series is unfinished. The last book has yet to be written. Here’s what I have learned:
Once you find what works for you in telling stories, stay there.
The Hunger Games was a Revolution. It was an Era. I read the first one in 2009 and then I had to buy the next book right away. And then Mockingjay came out the week I was moving to university and I waited until my fall break to read it. And then a decade after the last book, Suzanne dropped a prequel and then vanished into the night. Here’s what I learned from the books:
You can write something impactful and it will stay with you forever.
Stephanie Perkins wrote a series of interconnected books that literally broke me in half. The first one, Anna and the French Kiss was actually written during NaNoWriMo. The final book took a while to come out and when it was over, I was so sad. I have yet to read her other books (they are much darker than these rom-coms), but the trilogy still remains one of my favorite series of all time. Here’s what I learned:
Love is great.
July 2012. I was in my summer dorm bored out of my mind when a friend told me to check out this book called Divergent. I read it in one sitting. And then I had to read the sequel. I read that in one setting as well. THE SAME NIGHT. These books were everywhere. They came out at the peak of the dystopia era. And yet, when I finished the books, I was not satisfied. In the end, the film series never really panned out. But this is what I learned:
Even if you are writing a book that just happens to fit a trend, you need to mail the landing.
If you know me well enough, you know that John Green means the world to me. I’ve been a Nerdfighter since July 2010 after Sarah Dessen mentioned his newest book, Paper Towns. I fell in love with his writing and his words. It just so happened that in 2011 he did a series of livestreams where he was doing his infamous J-scribbles. That’s because he said that all preorders would be signed. But then his editor went, “John, how can we do that? It’s going to have to be the first printing.” And so the legend of the J-scribble began. I have many editions of The Fault in Our Stars. It was the first book of John’s to get adapted and I felt so proud because of what had happened with Looking for Alaska at that time. It was stuck on developmental hell and John had no idea if it would be adapted. Since the TFIOS film, all of John’s solo books have been adapted, as well as Let it Snow. Only An Abundance of Katherines has not been adapted. To cap it off, both John and Hank have done so much good in the world thanks to Nerdfighteria and their Project 4 Awesome. Here’s what I learned from John:
Your stories matter, they are important. DFTBA.
I hope you enjoyed learning what I learned from some of my favorite authors. Like they always say at my hometown, DFTBA. Let me know if you learned anything as well.
Briana Michelle Meyer currently lives in Wisconsin after living in South Korea for 6 years. Right now she is working on a YA murder mystery. She would like to remind you that the reboot of Criminal Minds, Criminal Minds Evolution is out November 24 on Paramount+.