Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sucked Into The Portal

Last night I was watching the Olympics and reading sample pages.

Yep. I like to multi-task. And to be honest, I shouldn’t be telling you this. What horrible agent has one eye on the Telly and the other on some sample pages she has requested?

Happens more than you think. So just imagine how good those pages have to be if I’m going to rip my eyes away from young women catching big air on the half-pipe in Torino.

Well, I read a lot of young adult sample pages yesterday (and some even with the Telly off!) and I could just feel a rant coming on.

What’s with portals sucking young adult characters from the modern world into the world of fantasy? Why can’t the characters just exist in the alternate world you want to create?

I can kind of see the stratagem. Maybe you want these characters to have modern issues that will only be solved in the unreality of the adventure in the other world? I’m assuming that’s it, but for the most part, it’s not working.

I’m not alone in this. I was talking to an editor over at Hyperion Books for Children and let me tell you, her rant on this topic was… well, I thought I would just let you down easily. I think her main sentiment was to stop. Please, no more portals sucking unsuspecting young adult characters into an alternate reality.

I’m sure she, as an editor, is not alone in this sentiment. Every fifth query I receive seems to have this set up and even when I think it won’t and I ask for the sample pages, boom, there it shows up.

So perhaps a gentle hint for young adult writers, you might want to rethink this. Obviously, if done amazingly well, it will work and change our minds. For the most part, I’m thinking why not rewrite and simply have your characters exist in the fantasy world where you really want the story to unfold? Perhaps nothing will be lost in that translation and you just might open a closed door.