Having trouble kicking off your writing career? Ever had to meet a deadline, but been faced with the dreadful writer’s block? Never fear! This simple recipe will have you churning out bestsellers by the dozen!
Setting: Should be a dystopian, future Earth* where little is known about the past and the government has complete control over the lives of citizens, but all the adults don’t mind. Should have some sort of system that sorts teenagers into categories in a coming-of-age ceremony. Make sure to capitalize all nouns relating to said system, so readers will know it is important.
*Future technology should include energy weapons, truth serums, perfect psychological tests, and genetic manipulation, all explained with inconsistent technobabble. Robots are optional. Bonus points for mind control.
Point of View: First person, present tense. Multiple POVs are encouraged, preferably one from each love interest. Don’t bother making it so the readers can tell them apart – just use their name as the chapter title.
-Main Character – should be a plain and a completely average teenage girl. Interests and personality are optional, but a dramatic internal voice is a must, as well as low self-esteem.
-Love Interest 1 – should be hotter than the sun and completely perfect. For drama, have him fight with the main character over stupid things, like having friends of the opposite sex.
-Love Interest 2 (optional, but preferred) – should be as hot as Love Interest 1, and usually starts out as the MC’s friend. His main purpose is to comfort the MC after she fights with Love Interest 1. This should cause the main character to be attracted to him as well, and then feel conflicted about which boy she really loves.
-Sundry side characters – all they really need is a suitably unique name. That will make them memorable. Some of them should be the MC’s friends, but she can forget about them for long periods of time. Kill them off whenever you want to show that a situation is dire.
Your ordinary girl has always felt like she’s the only one who doesn’t fit any of the Categories. When the Choice/Trial/Test comes along, she rebels against the system and winds up among other rebels, all of whom happen to be teenagers. Don’t worry about the logistics of how they arm or train themselves when none of them have a real job or any money.
Here is where the real plot starts. She meets Love Interest 1 and they fall in love immediately. Impress upon the reader how deep her love runs by having her spend inordinate amounts of time staring into his eyes. Have him show his love for her by doing something suitably creepy, like watching her while she sleeps. Intersperse love scenes as you see fit. Try to be edgy, but not too graphic – this is YA fiction, after all, and the movie can’t be rated R. This blissful stage should go on for several chapters while both of them begin training in whatever cool combat style you can think of. Archery and throwing knives are good choices.
However, you do need some source of conflict, so there must be obstacles to their love. One of these is the oppressive government, of course, but far more important is that one girl Love Interest 1 keeps looking at or the stupid risks he keeps taking. This should cause a number of fights, after which Love Interest 2 comforts your main character, causing her to develop feelings for him, too.
Spend the second third of your novel having her fight with each of them in turn, trying to decide who she actually loves. Intermix this with scenes of them training or discussing strategy, just to remind the reader that they really are rebels and that this is not a high school drama.
Now you realize you’re most of the way through this book and they still haven’t made any progress towards overthrowing the oppressive government. Never fear – simply have them discover something world-shattering in the most convenient way possible, preferably at the same time the oppressive government finally gets around to stamping out their pesky rebel group.
A huge fight should break out, with your heroes trying to capture some vital piece of information/weapon/government official. At this point, those sundry side characters should start dropping like flies, and one or both Love Interests should be presumed dead. For maximum drama, put both of the Love Interests in danger, and make your main character choose which one to save. The most intense moment is the perfect place to end your book.
Now, do a basic edit for grammar and spelling, wrap it up, and send it to a publishing company. You are guaranteed a trilogy deal and a movie adaptation. Congratulations!
Don’t worry too much about what will happen in the rest of the trilogy – after the book hits the bestseller lists, people will buy the next two books no matter what happens in them. Sit back and relax as the fame and money roll in. A few more of these trilogies, and you'll be set for life.