How to Keep Readers Invested in Flawed Characters

Every protagonist in fiction needs a major character flaw. Part of the satisfaction of reading comes from finding out how a character changes for the better. Of course some character flaws are greater than others, and when you make your protagonist seriously flawed (as I like to do), the question becomes: How do I keep the reader invested in the story? How do I keep the reader from wanting to throw the book across the room? In my first novel, A WORK OF ART, my main character, Tera, refuses to believe that her father is guilty of a crime. Her naivety...
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Adding My Voice

As a victim of sexual assault, I should have known this already, but I only recently discovered that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a national campaign that raises public awareness about sexual violence and also educates individuals and communities in how to prevent it. So in honor of SAAM, and to help forward the cause, I’m giving away five copies of my award-winning and critically acclaimed book, A Work of Art. (See below.) I’m also making a nice donation to SAAM and buying this t-shirt via their website. I’ll wear it proudly. Admitting I’m a survivor of sexual...
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Writing For Young Adults: Something I Learned the Hard Way, Part 2

In part 1, I talked about how writing for a young-adult audience can be challenging, especially given that I graduated high school thirty years ago. This week, I continue that advice with part 2.  So without further ado, here’s more of what I learned the hard way when I decided I wanted to write for young adults. Replacing adult phrases with teenage speak (“That’s wonderful!” versus “That’s so freaking cool!”) wasn’t the way to go. Of course, that’s part of it, but swapping out adult phrases for teen phrases is one piece in a much larger pie. I had to...
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Writing for Young Adults: Something I Learned the Hard Way, Part 1

When I began seriously pursuing writing as a career, I didn’t intend to write for young adults. My book, A WORK OF ART, was originally aimed toward an older audience, but my critique group convinced me (and rightly so) that it was suited for young adults. After all, its protagonist was a teenage girl, and many of her problems were teenage problems. But making the transition from an adult audience to a YA audience was tougher than it seemed. My early drafts were written in third person, where everything was seen through the eyes of my protagonist. That’s all well...
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It’s All About the Conflict

Writers spend a lot of time on character and plot, which of course are very important, but remember that your story will be boring without CONFLICT. Conflict doesn’t just bring excitement to the pages. Conflict brings characters to life. Think about this. We all make snap decisions about people based on appearance and background information, but it’s not until we see people in action that we learn who they are. Let’s say you’re in high school, sitting in a classroom, and there’s a new girl in class. She’s beautiful, busty, looks like a model. You have some background on her,...
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Scene Setting and POV: 2 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

As a writer, I loathe setting the scene. I’ve literally spent hours going over the same few paragraphs to make sure I “got it right,” only to delete those same paragraphs on my revision. So much time wasted! But at least all that needless writing taught me a few things. Lesson 1: When setting a scene (at least in first person or close third-person), only mention what’s important to your character at that time. As an example of what I mean, take a look at this passage from an early draft of my work in progress. Fifteen-year-old Layla doesn’t know...
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What Doesn’t Kill Us…

I write for teens, so it’s important that I stay in touch with my teenage self. It would help if I had teenage children (my son is 11), but for now I mostly rely on memories of what it was like back in the day. I say “back in the day” as though I have fond memories of high school—when actually my teenage years were a series of embarrassing events punctuated by flashes of terror. All those insecurities and fears, all that pressure to fit in and be liked. So why do I want to relive those painful experiences through...
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Author Visits

“Melody Maysonet’s presentation for our students was terrific. Students loved meeting and interacting with her, and Melody’s background as a teacher certainly showed in not only her prepared presentation but also her Q & A. Her presentation was interesting, relevant, and not to be missed.” –Cathy Castelli High School Teacher, Atlantic Technical High School “Melody Maysonet provided my students with a tremendous learning experience filled with creative inspiration!” –Jean Brodie MA Language Arts Department, Coral Springs High School   “Melody Maysonet provided an engaging and entertaining presentation for our library’s teen audience. In addition to sharing her own experiences as an author,...
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Win a Copy of A WORK OF ART

Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)? I didn’t until my sister got involved in Safe Passage, an organization that helps prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in her hometown of DeKalb, IL. I should have known about SAAM, especially because my book A WORK OF ART delves into the shame and insecurity that many sexual assault victims suffer from. It also deals with love—how victims of sexual assault sometimes have a skewed perception of what love is, and how sometimes we can love those who victimize us. Research has shown that readers of literary fiction...
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What I Would Tell My Teen Self

As a novelist for young adults, I spend a lot of time trying to recapture the emotions I had in high school. For me, there wasn’t much joy in being a teen. I wrote poetry back then, and a lot of what I wrote captures my self-loathing and fear and confusion. I sometimes wrote about wanting to get life over with. But I also wrote about hope. I hoped things would get better. I only half-believed they would. So if I could go back in time and talk to my teenage self, this is what I’d say: All those feelings...
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