YA authors take a lot of different approaches to writing their stories, and I love them all for it. Though I’m always looking for “good writing,” this un-quantifiable label comes in many shapes and sizes. Here’s a humorous (hopefully) look at the various writing styles I’ve encountered, and what’s to love (or not) about each.
We’re all familiar with this one: there’s nothing especially poetic about the writing style, except that it’s voice is unmistakably teenager-y. Usually, this writing style results in less flashy or quotable prose while maximizing readability and personality. Hot guys are probably fawned over. Best friends are probably wacky and hilarious. Parents very well might suck.
Done well, I love it. Done poorly, it just serves to highlight an author’s weak writing skills and disconnect from the actual lives of teenagers today.
- Good examples: Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
- Bad example: Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt
The building’s facade is a combination of Gothic and Victorian elements, giving off a judgmental and austere air. Five feet from the building stood a dark gray, slightly rusted telephone pole that dated back to the 1830s…
Freaking shoot me. Honestly, I have a hard time focusing on long scenery descriptions, and even if I do read them, I usually end up visualizing something wrong, and it is confusing later on in the story. I’ve learned to let most scenery descriptions flow over me, getting the mood of the place but ignoring specifics.
I’ll admit, when an author pulls this off, it’s really impressive, and I love them forever.
- Good example: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
- Bad example: honestly, I rarely finish books that are soporifically scenery-heavy, so no examples come to mind
This type of writer uses such a plainspoken voice to tell their story that you don’t even realize how good their writing is until you go back and think about it. I love this type of writer, though their books tend to be less “quotable.”
- Good examples: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, the Angle Burn series by LA Weatherly
You know the type. Every chapter is told from a different point of view. Sometimes it switches between the two protagonists; sometimes it jumps between whatever random characters serve the narrative at that moment. (Personally, I prefer the former and get bored with the latter, usually.) Done well, this is a great way to give insight into more than one character, and it can give a growing romance all the feels. Done poorly, the story feels choppy and badly paced.
- Good example: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
- Weaker example: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas (I love the story, but the switching POVs was a bit tiring!), The Diviners by Libba Bray (again, love the overall story, but it was hard to keep track of all the different characters’ plot lines)
This is possibly my favorite writing style. There is nothing flashy or forced about the lyrical quality of their writing–the story just tells itself so gorgeously that the writing becomes poetry. I love these stories because they don’t make a point of being well written, don’t shove it in your face while jumping up and down and yelling LOOK AT ME BEING PRETTY–they just take your breath away. They get an A+ for being quotable, and I’ll catch myself with random sentences of theirs floating through my head days after I’ve finished them.
- Good examples: Fire by Kristen Cashore, anything by Maggie Stiefvater, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
- Bad example: whenever an author is obviously trying to be lyrical and it doesn’t really work, e.g. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
This is hands down my least favorite writing style. The writing is so lyrical and voice-driven that the story loses touch with reality. There is probably an unreliable narrator involved. There is probably alcohol involved. There are probably some mysterious occurrences that are either paranormal happenings or just drug-induced hallucinations.
These books give me a headache, and I generally finish them feeling very unsatisfied, wondering where the real story was.
- Bad examples: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
The kind of book that makes you sob with the power of the story and its writing. I usually love this kind of book, though it’s hard to find them, because I tend to shy away from books I know will make me cry in public.
- Good examples: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Alexander, The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
What do you think? Do you agree? Are there other types of writing that I missed (probably)?
What is your favorite writing style?