Life is a rollercoaster. From youth forward, there is a steady climb to the day we are freed from home and set out on our own. We scream down that first hill into the ups, downs, twists and turns of life. No matter how terrified we are, we can never get off the ride until it is over.
The Emotional Rollercoaster: Plotting the Young Adult Novel was the premise behind a workshop I recently attended at Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Lit Fest, presented by author Wendy Wunder. Following the graphic below, we discussed the main turning points in the YA novel. The early pages set the stage for our protagonist. It is the who, what, where, why, and when of their situation. Then, in an instant, they make a life altering decision (the inciting incident) that sends them on the ride of their lives filled with heart pounding highs and gut wrenching lows. There are two main high points for the protagonist that are followed by the floor dropping lows, and at the end our protagonist has finally learned something or grown in some way.
When you are writing your next novel (or the one you are working on now) take a look at your protagonist. Do they have the highs that touch the sky and the lows that slam to the ground? Your readers have been waiting in line for a long time for this rollercoaster and they want to feel the twists and turns that you put your characters through. They want to feel the wind as your protagonist flies over the highs and dives down into the lows. Are you taking your readers on an Emotional Rollercoaster? Young adults don’t hang out in the kiddie park anymore; this is the monster rollercoaster so give them the ride of a lifetime!
~~~When not spending time with her family, Wendy Wunder teaches yoga around Boston and writing at Grub Street. Her first story was published in The Gettysburg Review, and is the author of The Probability of Miracles and The Museum of Intangible Things.