I took my classes to the library for orientation this past week, and while I was there I took a look in their stacks and found some books on writing. One I didn't check out was about writing YA fiction and had been published in the 1960s. I flipped through it a bit and was amused to see a chapter on "What Not to Include." It went something like, "Of course you don't want to include any behavior that you don't want your readers to emulate." And I thought about most YA fiction, which even if the MC is squeaky clean, there are usually lots of bad behaviors in other characters. I mean, it's not realistic, is it? I do appreciate if those bad behaviors have consequences, the sort of consequences bad behavior can get you in the real world, but we're just not writing Nancy Drew anymore, are we?
One of the books I did take home-- Thanks, But This Isn't For Us by Jessica Page Morrell, an editor and writer. While some of the things she says aren't exactly revelations, some of them kinda are. The book is laid out so that you have chapters, then you have headings under that. For example, there's a chapter on beginnings. She gives some basic rules, the typical idea of a hook, etc. but then, THEN, she gives a section called "Deal Breakers" which gives the openings that editors and agents pretty much dread across the board. AND, she gives you examples. Then when she gets to the good ways to open a book, she also gives examples. I swear that section was really helpful and inspiring.
Definitely worth the read, even if you're more just skimming your favorite chapters for ideas or help in avoiding writing pitfalls.