Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome to the Army of Ten



The Army of Ten: Welcome to the Army of Ten: Welcome, Recruits!  This is the Army of Ten , a street team promotional network for TEN by Gretchen McNeil (Balzer + Bray, September 18, ...


AMAZING PRIZES! Awesome Author! Join now! What more could  you want?

I'm going for the rank of General. Go big or go home. That's my way.


I'm ready to get the word out! Are you?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

REVIEW: Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King


I absolutely loved this book. The non-linear format of this novel was handled better than any other I've seen. Lucky Linderman is one of the most compelling main characters in YA today, and A.S. King is a writing force to be reckoned with. I'm pretty sure I'll be reading everything she's written to date and beyond.

At first, this seems like a story about bullying and Lucky's dysfunction in the family. But as I read on, I found it was more about taking a stand for yourself, and believing in your strengths. A great lesson for anyone, age 12 to 112. Lucky's situation is similar to the stories my daughter comes home from school with, but his wit, conviction, and vulnerability had me cheering for him the whole way through.

If you're truly looking for something different, something that makes you feel something that is atypical of swooning YA contemporary, I urge you to read Everybody Sees The Ants. Because, they do? Don't they?

Learn more about Printz Honoree, A.S. King, and her books by visiting her website.
http://www.as-king.com/ 


If you don't love her books. I'll eat ants. Promise. : )

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Handmade Pendant for SHADOW AND BONE Author Leigh Bardugo

Handmade Pendant for YA Author Leigh Bardugo. Tried to get a Shadow and Bone vibe for her on this one. : )

CONGRATULATIONS to Leigh Bardugo for making the NYT bestsellers list. For those of you have—and even those of you haven't—already read SHADOW AND BONE, I can't wait to finishing reading this so I can review it, and hopefully interview Author Leigh Bardugo. Prying it from my 16 year-old daughters hands was feat. I have a feeling this one is going to take up residence on my top ten list.

 

Visit: http://www.leighbardugo.com/books/

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMER. Plotting, Planning, Thinking, Scheming: Decisions, decisions.

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Finishing a novel always presents me with the same dilemma: the abundance of time. I’m talking about hours that can be filled in anyway I see fit, save for the occasional freelance job and family obligation. But after three weeks of sending out queries and biting my nails in wait, I’m ready to start something new. I have to start something new. That’s what I do. I write. For better or worse. And the possibilities are endless.

Decisions, decisions.

Since I’m a file folder fanatic, my computer is veritable Wonderland of folders within folders within folders, which all lead to a set of ideas that have hit somewhere around the 150+ mark. Picking one, however, is my true problem. You see, I’ve written one young adult Greek mythology that didn’t do so well with agents despite the hours I spent researching, or my natural (heritage) inclination toward that topic. But I have to move on. I recently finished a young adult thriller that’s seeing some interest, but I know that could mean everything or nothing. A second blow to my ego could, quite literally, devastate me, so I try not to think too hard the negative. So what’s a writer to do…Can you hear the clock ticking as I thrum my fingers on my desk?

Start again.

I’m juggling six ideas at the moment, one of which is middle grade series that sort of fell into my lap and makes me smile like an imp, and the others go something like this: Two young adult historical fictions (one based on true family events), One horror story (based on a strange phenomenon/urban legend from the State where I grew up, Massachusetts), One contemporary young adult, one young adult thriller, and one science fiction. 

Phew.

The prospect of summer’s rapid approach immobilizes me. I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just, historically, my most difficult time to write, to really hammer out words. But I’m a plotter. I like to know the end before I begin. I insist upon it.  I also like to start with characters. Characterizations are my all-time favorite, and I’ve been told one of my strengths. Play to your strengths, as they say. Work on your weaknesses.

Will do.

The first thing I’ll do is concentrate on character traits, idiosyncrasies, and setting; ensconcing myself in the world I’m creating. This happens so fully at times the transition back to reality is something like time travel. I need a better flux capacitor or something, I guess.

Then the process goes something like this:

“It’s about a boy/girl who….” (Fill in the blank)

Once I have the basic gist, I answer these questions:

1.     Who is the main character?
2.     What happens in the character’s life that throws them into this story?
3.     What does he/she want most in the world?
4.     Who are his/her closest allies?
5.     Who or what opposes him/her and stops them from getting what they want most in the world?
6.     What happens if he/she doesn’t get what she wants – what’s at stake?
7.     What does he/learn in the end?

After I can answer those questions confidently, I begin a plot board. Beginning this week, in between writing a synopsis for my recent work, I propose to start outlining these stories one-by-one. My thinking is that one of them will scream to be heard over the others, and that’s the one I’ll put my backbone into. For the love of YA.

What do you do when you’ve finished a novel? How do you decide what to write or read next? And how do you plan on using the upcoming summer to work on your craft?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

FUMBLING ABOUT — A Guest Post by Scott Livingston

2:10 am — near dark pitch pine trees — it seemed important at the time

I recently believed I’d become a writer. But then I got a letter. Several actually. They all said the same thing. “Nope.” I hate it when that happens.

The thing is, Mr/Mrs. Nathan/Kirsten/William/Kate/Sara/Michael etc etc, I
am a writer. But you were right. Saying “no,” I mean. I just wasn't a publishable writer. At the time.

Before the gates of excellence, the gods have placed sweat.

 – Katherine Paterson

But it’s just that I put so much work into writing the stupid book, I thought for sure -
for sure – you’d have to say “Yes!!” and “How many zeroes would you like on your check?”and “We’d like to buy all the books you've ever, ever written - since first grade” and “Can you fly to New York in the morning? First class of course. On us.” Instead you just said “Nope.” Turns out that work - the uncounted, grinding hours - some spent huddled in the dark of my mind, lots sitting in that one room in the library, others spent thinking and typing and then backing up and writing again. And again. And again. They were all just a waste, right?

(Note to you, Muse over publishing: Where’s my dream about sparkly vampires in a meadow? Dude.)

So okay, not a waste. A journey. A life lesson. A process. Becoming a published writer is a slap in the face, brisk water, ultra marathon, “you'd better be ready for years of nope ‘cuz that’s the price to play, son. It just is”

Fine. Be that way. If I want this thing. Really, really want it. Then I should - I must - understand that only the serious dare enter the cage, boots cinched tight, prepared for no after no after no. Because as someone brilliant (and published) once said – “That which we receive too cheap we esteem too lightly.”

The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork (including writing) is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars. — David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

So back to the wrestle go I. Fumbling about once again. Still. Always. I bring what few tools I've got to the work, and work the best I know how. Believing still. Again. Always.

I will be published. I must be published. I'll bend bones, snap turtle shells (empty), call down angels, even eat Cream of Wheat to be published, brotha. I shall prevail. I must. Must.

“Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, and the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.”
-Bill Goldman



SCOTT LIVINGSTON is a talented writer, and all around great guy, currently seeking representation for several excellent works. You can learn more about Scott and his writing at:

http://www.sleye1.com otherwise known as Bemused
Twitter: @sleye1stories 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guest Post — Kristen Lamb on Structure— Part 8

My 8 week guest posts from Kristen Lamb’s series on structure comes to end with a whopper. In this final week, Kristen tackles Balancing the Scenes that Make Up Your Novel. No small task. But sometimes we have to move things around to keep the reader turning the pages. Better to recognize the importance of this step now, than face rejections for something we could have fixed. At least, that's how I feel. 

Be sure to follow Kristin on facebook, twitter, and her blog. She has many wonderful things to say and is a great resource for writers. Happy learning.

Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 best-selling books “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.”Currently Kristen is teaching workshops based off her best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media at various writer conferences across the country. Stay tuned for a workshop in your area.

Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker, and she takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing. Kristen has guided writers of all levels, from unpublished green peas to NY Times best-selling big fish, how to use social media to create a solid platform and brand. Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fanbase.

You can find Kristin on her blog: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/


Structure Part 8
Balancing the Scenes that Make Up Your Novel

Welcome to Structure Part 8. We have spent the past couple of months studying the fundamentals of what makes up a novel, and today we are going to discuss the actual scenes that make up a novel and how to keep track of them. It is easy to get lost when dealing with a structure as complex as a novel, so I hope to give you a nifty tool to keep everything straight.
As a fiction author, you will often feel like an acrobat spinning plates while standing on your head and juggling fiery chainsaws. There are so many components to keep track of, lest you end up down the Bunny Trail of No Return. Organization is key when it comes to being a successful novelist.
First, let’s talk about scenes.
According to James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure, scenes do four things. Bell calls these the four chords of fiction:
The two major chords are: (1) action and (2) reaction.
The two minor chords are (1) setup and (2) deepening.
Back when I used to edit for writers, I was known to draw flies on the page when the writer lost my interest. This became known as my infamous, “Fly on the Wall of ‘Who Cares?’” The reader is a fly on the wall when it comes to the world we are creating. Make them the fly on the wall of something interesting at all times. How do we accomplish this?
All scenes need conflict. Conflict is the fuel that powers the story’s forward momentum. “Scenes” that are merely back-story, reflection (rehash of what the reader already knows) or information dump, slow down the story and make the reader either want to skim ahead or put the book down. Bad juju. We want our readers hooked from the beginning until we finally let them go on the last page. How do we accomplish this? We add lots of conflict.
Scenes, according to Bell, need three components, collectively known as HIP—Hook, Intensity & Prompt.
Hook—interests the reader from the get-go. This is why it is generally a bad idea to start scenes with setting. Waxing rhapsodic about the fall color is a tough way to hook a reader. If you do start a scene with setting, then make it do double-duty. Setting can set up the inner mood of a character before we even meet him. Setting should always be more than a weather report. Try harder.
Intensity—raises the stakes. Introduce a problem. Scenes that suddenly shift into reverse and dump back-story KILL your intensity. Cut scenes at meals unless there is a fight. If your characters are in a car, they better be in an argument or a car chase. Also cut any scenes that the sole purpose is to give information. Have a scene that’s sole purpose is two characters talking about a third? CUT!
Prompt—leave the scene with work left undone and questions left unanswered. If your character is relaxed enough to go to bed at the end of a scene, that is a subconscious cue to your reader that it is okay to mark the page and close the book.  There should always be something unsettling that makes the reader want to know more.
Going back to the chords of the writing. Every scene should involve one of your key characters in pursuit of an interesting goal that is related to the overall conflict of the story. Each of these scenes are stepping stones that take your character closer to the final showdown. Most of the time, it will feel like two steps forward and one step back.
Your POV character (protagonist) sets out to do X but then Y gets in the way. Your character then will have some kind of a reaction to the setback.
So we have the major chords I mentioned earlier:
ACTION–> REACTION to the obstacle
Now when we add in the minor chords, it might look something like this:
Setup–>ACTION–>obstacle–>REACTION to the obstacle–>deepening
Setup and deepening need to be short and sweet. Why? Because they don’t drive the story, conflict does. We as readers will need a certain amount of setup to get oriented in what is happening, but then drive forward and get to the good stuff. Deepening is the same. We want to know how this conflict has changed the course of events, but don’t get carried away or you risk losing your reader.
Every scene should have conflict and a great way to test this is to do a Conflict Lock. Bob Mayer teaches this tactic in his workshops and if you get a chance to take one of his classes, you will be amazed how your writing will improve.
The conflict lock is a basic diagram of what the conflicting goals in the scene look like. Here is one from one of my earlier fiction pieces. My protagonist’s roommate has just been taken by bad guys, and protag and the love interest are clearly in conflict:
Jane wants to pursue the trail of the kidnappers deeper into Mexico.
Tank wants to return to Texas and call the FBI.
Even though these two characters are allies, it is clear they want different things. Jane wants to plunge ahead and take her chances pursuing the bad guys who have her friend. The love interest doesn’t want Jane hurt or killed. He wants to take the safer route and let the pros handle the kidnapping. Both have reasonable goals, but only one of them, by the end of the scene, will get his/her way. One path takes Jane closer to finding her roommate. The other ends the adventure.
So how do you keep track of all these elements? The note card is a writer’s best friend. We will discuss different methods of plotting in the future, but I recommend doing note cards ahead of time and then again after the fact. I stole a very cool tactic from screenwriter Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.
On each note card, I write the location, then a one-sentence header about what the scene is about. Then there is a neat little symbol for conflict (><) I use to show who is in conflict in this particular scene. Then I do a micro conflict lock. Who wants what? I also use an emotional symbol to note change +/-.
Characters should be changing emotionally. If your protag enters on a high note, crush it. Enters on a low? Give some hope. If a character is constantly okey dokey, that’s boring. Conversely, if a character is always in the dumps, it will wear out your reader and stall the plot. I also note any facts I might need to keep up with. Has my main character suffered an injury? Lost her weapon? Gained a bazooka and a pet hamster?
Let’s look at an example from the movies. Romancing the Stone.
So the card might look something like this:
Jungles of South America (Location)
>< Joan (protag) and Jack (love interest/antagonist)
Joan wants a guide to get her to Cartejena, Columbia to trade the treasure map for her sister.
Jack wants to recapture the exotic birds he lost when the bus crashed into the back of his truck.
-/+ Joan finally convinces Jack to take her to Cartejena. (Note she started on a low. She was lost, in a crash and far away from Cartejena. She ends on a high note. Jack agrees to guide her to her destination)
Joan and Jack decide to go to Cartejena (decision), but then bad guys arrive and start shooting at them (prompt).
Yes, Blake Snyder’s system is designed to keep up with all the scenes a movie, but it can do wonders for novelists, too. When I finish my first draft, I go back and make set of cards. Using this system makes it painfully clear what scenes are in need of a total overhaul. If I can’t say in one sentence what the scene is about, then I know my goal is weak, nonexistent or unclear. Too many people in conflict? Conflict might be muddy. Go back and clarify. If there isn’t any emotional change, then that’s a big red flag that nothing is happening–it’s a “Fly on the Wall of ‘Who Cares?’”
If I find a scene that’s sole purpose is information dump, what do I do? I have three choices. 1) Cut the scene totally. 2) Fold it into another scene that has existing conflict. 3) Add conflict. Note cards also make it easy to spot bunny trails–goals that have nothing to do with the A or B plot.
This tactic can help make a large work manageable. If you are starting out and outlining? Make note cards for each scene and who you foresee being in conflict. If you already have your novel written, but you want to tighten the writing or diagnose a problem you just can’t see? Make note cards.
Keeping organized with note cards is an excellent way to spot problems and even make big changes without unraveling the rest of the plot. There are, of course, other methods, but this is the one I have liked the best. Note cards are cheap, portable and easy to color code. For instance, each POV character can have a designated color. Using these cards makes it much easier to juggle all the different elements of great novels—characters, conflict, inner arc, plot, details.
THANK YOU, Kristin, for allowing me to share these amazing posts with my blog followers. You're a rock star! xo

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest Post — Kristen Lamb on Structure— Part 7

Week 7 is here. And Kristen Lamb explores Genre Matters during her 8 part series on structure. What Genre do you write?

Be sure to follow Kristin on facebook, twitter, and her blog. She has many wonderful things to say and is a great resource for writers. Happy learning.

Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 best-selling books “We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.”Currently Kristen is teaching workshops based off her best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media at various writer conferences across the country. Stay tuned for a workshop in your area.

Kristen worked in international sales before transitioning into a career as an author, freelance editor and speaker, and she takes her years of experience in sales & promotion and merges it with almost a decade as a writer to create a program designed to help authors construct a platform in the new paradigm of publishing. Kristen has guided writers of all levels, from unpublished green peas to NY Times best-selling big fish, how to use social media to create a solid platform and brand. Most importantly, Kristen helps authors of all levels connect to their READERS and then maintain a relationship that grows into a long-term fanbase.

You can find Kristin on her blog: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/

Structure Part 7
Genre Matters

For the past several weeks we have been exploring structure and why it is important. If you haven’t yet read the prior posts, I advise you do because each post builds on the previous lesson. All lessons are geared to making you guys master plotters. Write cleaner and faster. I know a lot of you are chomping at the bit right now to get writing. All in due time. Today we are going to talk genre and why it is important to pick one.
Understanding what genre you are writing will help guide you when it comes to plotting your novel. How? Each genre has its own set of general rules and expectations. Think of this like stocking your cabinet with spices. If you like to cook Mexican food, then you will want to have a lot of cumin, chili powder and paprika on hand. Like cooking Italian food? Then basil and oregano are staple spices. In cooking we can break rules … but only to a certain point.
We can add flavors of other cultures into our dish, but must be wary that if we deviate too far from expectations, or add too many competing flavors, we will have a culinary disaster. Writing is much the same. We must choose a genre, but then can feel free to add flavors of other genres into our work.
Ten years ago, when I first got this brilliant idea to start writing fiction, I didn’t do any planning. I knew zip nada about the craft, and, frankly, was too stupid to know I was that dumb. To make matters worse, I tried to write a novel that everyone would love. It was a romantic-thriller-mystery-comedic-inspirational-memoir that would appeal to all ages, both men and women and even their pets and houseplants. I am here to help you learn from my mistakes.
Just as nailing the log-line is vital for plotting, we also must be able to classify what genre our novel will be in. Now, understand that some genres are fairly close. Think Mexican Food and Tex Mex. An agent at a later date might, for business reasons, decide to slot a Women’s Fiction into Romance.  Yet, you likely will NEVER see an agent slot a literary fiction as a thriller. They are too different. That is like trying to put enchiladas on the menu at a French restaurant.
Part of why I stress picking a genre is that genres have rules and standards. For example, last year, I had a student drop out of my critique group because she wanted to basically write a literary thriller. I couldn’t make her understand that there were serious pacing issues with this combination. People who love thrillers like fast, steadily rising action. If we stop to take time to explore feelings and social issues, we will vex the very audience we are trying to entertain. People who read thrillers and people who read literary fiction are two very different audiences.
Granted, there are people who like to read everything, but betting our writing future on entertaining statistical outliers is a serious gamble. It’s like creating tuna ice cream. Sure, there is likely a handful of pregnant women who would love tuna ice cream, but most people would just pass. I didn’t make the rules, but I can help a writer understand those rules and thereby increase his/her chances of publication success.
In writing as in food, some combinations are never meant to go together. Paranormal thriller? Okay. Cool. Popcorn jelly beans. Literary thriller? Tuna ice cream of the writing world. Just my POV.
Understanding your genre will help immensely when it comes to plotting. It will also help you get an idea of the word count specific to that genre. I am going to attempt to give a very basic overview of the most popular genres. Please understand that all of these break down into subcategories, but I have provided links to help you learn more so this blog wasn’t 10,000 words long.
Mystery—often begins with the crime as the inciting incident (murder, theft, etc.), and the plot involves the protagonist uncovering the party responsible by the end. The crime has already happened and thus your goal in plotting is to drive toward the Big Boss Battle—the unveiling of the real culprit.
Mysteries have a lot more leeway to develop characters simply because, if you choose, they can be slower in pacing because the crime has already happened. Mysteries run roughly  75-100,000 words. Mysteries on the cozy side that are often in a series commonly are shorter. 60,000-ish. I’d recommend that you consult the Mystery Writers of America of more information.
Thriller/Suspense—generally involve trying to stop some bad thing from happening at the end. Thrillers have broad consequences if the protagonist fails—I.e. the terrorists will launch a nuclear weapon and destroy Washington D.C. Suspense novels have smaller/more intimate consequences. I.e. The serial killer will keep butchering young blonde co-eds. It is easy to see how thriller, suspense and mystery are kissing cousins and keep company. The key here is that there is a ticking clock and some disastrous event will happen if the protagonist fails.
So when plotting, all actions are geared to prevention of the horrible thing at the end. Thrillers can run 90-100,000 words (loosely) and sometimes a little longer. Why? Because some thrillers need to do world-building. Most of us have never been on a nuclear sub, so Tom Clancy had to recreate it for us in The Hunt for Red October (Clancy invented a sub-class of thriller known as the techno-thriller).
Pick up the pacing and you can have a Mystery-Suspense. Think Silence of the LambsA murder happens at the beginning, and the goal is to uncover the identity of the serial killer Buffalo Bill (mystery), but what makes this mystery-suspense is the presence of a ticking clock. Not only is the body count rising the longer Buffalo Bill remains free, but a senator’s daughter is next on Bill’s butcher block.
When plotting, there will often be a crime (murder) at the beginning, but the plot involves a rising “body count” and a perpetrator who must be stopped before an even bigger crime can occur (Big Boss Battle). These stories are plot-driven. Characters often do not have enough down-time to make sweeping inner arc changes like in a literary piece.
Pick up the pacing and raise the stakes and you have a Mystery-Thriller. Think Killing Floor by Lee Childs. The book begins with a murder of two unidentified people at a warehouse, but if the killers are not found, what the killers are trying to cover up will have global consequences. And I am not telling you what those consequences are b/c it would ruin the book :D .
When plotting, again, there is often a crime at the beginning with rising stakes, and the protagonist must stop a world-changing event from happening (Big Boss Battle). The focus of your plot will be solving the mystery and stopping the bad guy.
For more information on this genre, consult the International Thriller Writers site.
Romance—Guy and girl have to end up together in the end is the only point I will make on this. Romance is all about making the reader believe that love is good and grand and still exists in this crazy world. The hero cannot be your Big Boss Trouble Maker (read Structure Part Three if you want to know what a BBT is). Yes, the guy will likely be an antagonist, but that is different.
Romance, however, is very complex and I cannot do it justice in this short blurb. If you desire to write romance, I highly recommend you go to the Romance Writers of America site for more information and that you join a chapter near you immediately. This is one of the most amazing writing organizations around and a great investment in a successful romance-writing career.
Word count will depend on the type of romance you desire to write. Again, look to RWA for guidance.
Literary Fiction-is character driven. The importance is placed on the inner change, and the plot is the mechanism for driving that change. Literary fiction has more emphasis on prose, symbol and motif. The events that happen must drive an inner transformation.
Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Road is a good example. The world has been destroyed and only a few humans have survived. The question isn’t as much whether the man and the boy will survive as much as it is about how they will survive. Will they endure with their humanity in tact? Or will they resort to being animals? Thus, the goal in The Road is less about boy and man completing their journey to the ocean, and more about how they make it. Can they carry the torch of humanity?
When plotting for the literary fiction, one needs to consider plot-points for the inner changes occurring. There need to be cross-roads of choice. One choice ends the story. The character failed to change. The other path leads closer to the end. The darkest moment is when that character faces that inner weakness at its strongest, yet triumphs.
For instance, in The Road, there are multiple times the man and boy face literally starving to death. Will they resort to cannibalism as many other have? Or will they press on and hope? Word count can vary, but you should be safe with 60-85,000 words (The Road was technically a novella).
Note: Literary fiction is not a free pass to avoid plotting. There still needs to be an overall plot problem that forces the change. People generally don’t wake up one day and just decide to change. There needs to be an outside driving force, a Big Boss Troublemaker, and a tangible physical goal. Again, in The Road, the man and boy have a tangible goal of getting to the ocean.
Fantasy and Science Fiction will involve some degree of world-building and extraordinary events, creatures, locations. In plotting, world-building is an essential additional step. How much world-building is necessary will depend on what sub-class of fantasy or sci-fi you’re writing. Word count will also be affected. The more world-building, the longer your book will be. Some books, especially in high-fantasy can run as long as 150,000 words and are often serialized.
Consult the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for more information.
Horror—This is another genre that breaks down into many sub-classifications and runs the gambit. It can be as simple as a basic Monster in the House story where the protagonist’s main goal is SERE-Survive Evade, Rescue, and Escape. The protag has only one goal…survive. These books tend to be on the shorter side, roughly 60,000 words.
Horror, however can blend with fantasy and require all kinds of complex world-building. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser is a good example. Stephen King’s horror often relies heavily on the psychological and there is weighty focus on an inner change/arc. For instance, The Shining chronicles Jack’s descent into madness and how his family deals with his change and ultimately tries to escape the very literal Monster in the House.
Horror will most always involve a Monster in the House scenario. It is just that the definitions of “monster” and “house” are mutable. Word count is contingent upon what type of horror you are writing. Again, I recommend you consult the experts, so here is a link to the Horror Writers AssociationThe Dark Fiction Guild seemed to have a lot of helpful/fascinating links, so you might want to check them out too.
Young AdultI won’t talk long about YA, since YA beaks into so many subcategories. Often YA will follow the rules of the parent genre (i.e. YA thrillers still have a ticking clock, fast pacing and high stakes just like regular thrillers). The differences, however, is that YA generally will have a younger protagonist (most often a teenager) and will address special challenges particular to a younger age group.
Picking a genre is actually quite liberating. Each genre has unique guideposts and expectations, and, once you gain a clear view of these, then plotting becomes far easier and much faster. You will understand the critical elements that must be in place—ticking clock, inner arc, world-building—before you begin.
This will save loads of time not only in writing, but in revision. Think of the romance author who makes her hero the main antagonist (BBT). She will try to query, and, since she didn’t know the rules of her genre, will end up having to totally rewrite/trash her story.
Eventually, once you grow in your craft, you will be able to break rules and conventions. But, to break the rules we have to understand them first.