Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top Ten Ingredients for a Successful Contemporary Young Adult Novel*

by Lupe Fernandez

1) Female protagonist must have at least three emotional dysfunctions such as drug addiction, food disorder and a compulsion to pull fire alarms.

2) Male protagonist must be a rebel/genius/loner/geek with a heart of gold with three of the following characteristics: six-pack abs, musical talent, latent vampirism or magic powers.

3) Contemporary music such as Rap, Hip-Hop, Yodeling or Zydeco must be celebrated.

4) Explicit sex must be portrayed in an unhealthy manner. Healthy sexual relations will cause inhibited parents, uptight talk show hosts and the FDA to ban the book.

5) Popular eras for period pieces: the Sixties, the Thirties, the 1880’s and the Sixties.

6) Fantasy novels require a dragon, a castle, arcane jargon and a leather pouch carried by a hunchback.

7) Incorporate latest technology such cell phones, iPods, iPhones, iShoes, laptops, PDAs, DUIs, MRIs, GPS, IRS, latent thermal body scanners – you’ve hit the cutting edge if the CIA visits you.

8) No story should be without the follow emotions: unrequited love, unrequited lust, unrequited shopping, unrequited air-guitar, jealousy, envy and a hunger for sushi.

9) Satisfy the “minority” quotient by including three of the following:

a) Mexicans

b) Anasazians

c) Hokokams

d) Chichimecas

e) Unpublished writers who are chick magnets

…and the Tenth Ingredient for a Successful Young Adult Novel*

10) Under no conditions should your story portray a “nuclear family.” Always, always the young adult lives with a single parent, un-related guardian, grandmother, grandfather, parking lot attendant, three green trolls or seven old dwarfs.

Include these ingredients in your Young Adult Novel, Bake at 200 degrees Absolute Kelvin, let sit for two years, then serve. Makes about one serving per book. Zero Calories. Zero Sodium. Marginal Profit.

*As determined by The Society of Irreproducible Results


  1. You're in quite the sarcastic cheeky mood today, eh? :) #10 is dissertation topic material. Absolutely no sarcasm there because it's true so often. I was going to say "always true" but then I did think of one book where there were two healthy parents. One. There must be more . . .

  2. Lori, thanks for reading.

    As for the nuclear family, I remember the good old days of Dad, Mom, Brother, Sis and Skippy the dog.

    Turned out Dad wanted to be Mom. Mom survived on her little helper in the medicine cabinet. Brother joined the Klan and Sis...well...I can't write those words without the FCC banning this blog.

    Skippy wrote a memoir called "Go Fetch - My Own Best Friend."

    Lupe F.

  3. Lupe,
    Please, please send me a copy of Skippy's memoir!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Lori,

    by Skippy
    A Collie's Memoir of Survival in a Nuclear Nightmare Family

    "When I was puppy, all I wanted was to be the Master's best friend - until he took me into his bomb shelter and dressed me up as a cat."

    Critical Acclaim
    "Two woofs and bark!" - Canine Monthy
    "I chewed that book until nothing was left." - Chewed Slipper Press
    "A real tail chaser." - Lassie

    Lupe F.

  6. I love this. I remember that in the 70's if you wanted to submit a script to Jos Papp at the New York Shakkespeare festival, one character should be a raped black homosexual dwarf

  7. So funny! I'm going to get to work right away on my novel about a homeless, bulemic girl who happens to be a cleptomaniac that steels from a magic wielding loner that she falls in love with while hip-hop dancing to music on his ipod. Of course the love is unrequited so she runs away and finds a gang of Anasazi warriors, but ends up back with the loner where they both have a deviant sexual relationship. Whew! I see best seller in the future!

  8. Susan - Ahhh...the seventies. The other good 'ole days.

    Lisa - My work is done. I see a Newbery, a Caldecott and a subpeona in your future.

    Lupe F.

  9. You crack me up.

    Happy New Year,
    J. Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Children's Author

  10. Hmmm - maybe this is why I don't read YA??? Strange! :)

  11. J.Aday - Glad I could give you a crack.

    MarthaE - Fear not. On that glorious day when my YA novel is published, you will read...oh yes, you will.

    Lupe F.

  12. Too wonder my YA novel is a dud...My male protagonist loved beat boxing. For shame...if only I had this handy list weeks ago! Thanks for the giggles.

  13. This. Absolutely. CRACKEDMEUP! :D Thanks.

  14. Unrequited shopping? What a riot? I love it. Thanks for the list. I usually write for MG readers. But, if I start a YA novel, I'll be able to write with a whole new awareness now!

  15. I'm following the recipe right now! Thanks for the tips! ;)

  16. I like it! The controversy alone will sell the book by the loads! Thanks for the list. It's fun.

  17. Every good list deserves a sequel. Hmmm...what to include on the next list?

    Something old, something blue.
    Something naughty, something new.
    Something in a chlorine swimming pool.

    Lupe F.

  18. This is funny, and I've read enough YA books to say that much of it is true.


  19. Oh my, this explains why I am not yet published. My characters are too modern, have morals, and they obviously are not in enough dysfunctional conflict. Thanks for the list.... I am off to revise. Seriously,Very funny and all too true.


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