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Author Topic: YA Dystopian Literature
Wordcaster
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Happy New Year!

I was just curious if anyone has any thoughts on dystopian literature. I've seen that some publishers are asking writers not to send it because they receive too much. On the other hand, it seems almost every YA novel out there is either about vampires or some dystopian future.

When you read a book such as Hunger Games, does it make you want to go read others such as Stephen King's The Running Man/The Long Walk, Takami's Battle Royale, or Lord of the Flies?

Same thing with Twilight... Does it make you want to read the Sookie Stackhouse series or An Interview with a Vampire?

The YA market seems to be highly derivative and frankly lacking in diversity. Is this a current fad or does it go with the territory of that age group?


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MartinV
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Dystopian literature can be rather morbid. I have to be in a very specific mood to be able to enjoy it.
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Meredith
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You know, if you start a novel today, by the time you're ready to start querying it, the editors are going to be saying that they're seeing too much of something else. Besides, if you write something with a new spin--and are able to communicate that in the query--somebody's likely to want to take a look at it anyway. It's not like Twiglight, or even Sookie Stackhouse, were the first vampire stories out there.

Unless you're able to turn out a polished novel incredibly quickly, I wouldn't worry too much about what they're saying they want or don't want today. If you're choosing between stories, you might consider what the editors/agents are saying. But basically, I would just go ahead and write the stories that are clawing their way out of your head and let the dust settle where it may.

I don't read dystopian literature, particularly. I wrote one werewolf story that didn't get as far as I think it should have. Maybe because some agents/editors are tired of werewolve. Maybe because I didn't do a good enough job of differentiating it from the pack (sorry for the pun) in my query.

I never read TWILIGHT and don't intend to. I read one Sookie Stackhouse and you couldn't give me another. In both cases, I just don't like weak female characters that have to be rescued all the time (among other reasons why I didn't like Charlane Harris' book). But I'll take a Mercy Thompson story by Patricia Briggs anytime. In fact, I looked at one Christmas anthology. (MISTLETOE AND WOLFSBANE, I think was the title.) I almost picked it up because it had a Patricia Briggs story in it--until I realized it had two by Charlane Harris. That made me put it back down.


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walexander
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I have to admit I had to look up dystopia.

How sad and I love greek myths.

One thing that might add to why there is so much slush in this category out there is people who are into Gothic dark present, past, and future novels (Especially the vampire followers) tend to be hobby writers and poets. So your going to have a lot random stuff in this category. Especially now that it has become so popular in the public eye.

But on the whole. Yes I would say that most who are avid followers vampire Gothic tend to only read in that category. Or close to it. Its kind of a strange addiction.

My daughter was that way for a while, but its no stranger than people who only read westerns or detective novels. Vampire and wizards just happen to be the most popular thing right now, and I don't see it fading out anytime soon.

2cent,

W.


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LDWriter2
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I will start be saying I don't know that term either. I have seen it but not enough times to get the context.

Second, that is a good point about an agent or editor saying they are seeing too much of something. I believe that happens all the time. In fact that is why I delayed so long with writing my UF novels. I thought the fad-rage-craze-trend would have dropped off by the time any editor would have seen my novel but it hasn't, if anything it's grown since I thought that. I don't think I have ever seen a reading craze take off like this one has. Anyway I'm doing them now.

I'm still not sure if Vampires-werewolves are part of the UF genre or their own but that sub-genre of a sub-genre seems to be growing also.


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Wordcaster
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Sorry, didn't mean to use an obscure term. By dystopia I was referring to a novel whose premise reflects a grim society (anti-utopia). They are typically futuristic and heavily state-controlled as in A Brave New World, 1984, Farenheit 451 and as mentioned above, Hunger Games. Cormac McCarthy, who I place as one of the top three novelists of the last 25 years, evaded the Pullitzer Prize with phenomenal works such as Blood Meridian and Suttree, but then finally won the award with his lesser dystopian novel, The Road, a few years ago.

To Meredith's point, I am writing the story I want to tell, not trying to write just what the market will sell. I think she is dead on in her comments. In fact, I am not writing this as a gripe, just as an observation and topic starter.


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LDWriter2
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Thanks. But that explains my confusion when you used that term concerning vampires etc.. I didn't know the word well enough to get what you were getting at though.


Mostly we should write what we want, unless its for a contest with a specific premise or if an editor asks us to do something specific.

I think though some people will and have debated my first comment though. They say why write something that won't sell or give an editor another reason to reject our work. But sometimes we never know what will sell. I would assume that Jim Butcher didn't know his first book would sell and begin a craze. Space Opera is another that always seems to be selling even though I suspect they see a lot of it.

If we wanted to do just what sells we should be writing romance especially since Romance writers make the most money and SF make the least or that was what it was two or so years ago. Funny thing is that Fantasy is significantly higher than SF.


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satate
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Yes I do want to go and read other similar books when I read something I love and I think it's even more true for younger readers.

Think of your typical MG or YA reader and most start off viewing reading as a chore. Then as reading gets easier they don't change their opinion until they read that awesome book. Lets say it's Harry Potter. They realize reading can be fun, but not all books so they search for more of the story they loved.

Editors probably don't want anymore of those types of stories because they're sick of reading poor imitations and the market is saturated with them.


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axeminister
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My wife is under contract, handed in a dystopian novel, and her editor said there's too much in the market right now. She suggested she write something else for the time being then extended her contract to compensate.

That's not to say you can't get one out, there's lots of publishing houses out there, but this particular one isn't taking any right now if they aren't taking one which is complete from an award winning author.

I'd say if you're writing with the intent of sending your novel around everywhere that you stay away from this for the time. Then again, if it takes a year to write you could be getting in at just the right time... Publishing is fickle. Who knows. Break-out novels are unpredictable as to who and when.

Axe


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