Is it just me or did the standards for Young Adult Fiction all but disappear between 2006 and 2011?

To research my own novel, I recently started reading a work by someone else.I wanted to compare my novel to others of the same subject. I wanted to stick my foot in the water and see how many piranhas there were. There is no better inspiration to publish your own work than to read something horrible.

I don’t get competitive with writing. Not usually. When I read a book I feel “meh” about I don’t go out and try to do better than that author just because I know I can do it. When I read a brilliant piece, I don’t try to be better than that writer, either. Rather, I purchase the book and place it on a pedestal (or as some may call it: a bookshelf) to give me inspiration when I’m down in the dumps.

This novel I’m currently reading, which shall remain nameless, reminds me that I’m a better writer. When I say this, I’m not being haughty. No. I’m furious. Here I am reading a book that needs so much attention, a character’s name changes in the same chapter he’s introduced! He’s a minor character, sure, but this is the least of this book’s problems.

Instead of a call-to-editing rant in which I could go on about the state of young fiction these days (you’re putting this in print; why won’t you read your own ****ing book just once from someone else’s point of view to make sure nothing’s wrong with it?!), I’m enraged about something petty but dear to my heart.

Another character belonging to this guy shares a name (and some physical qualities) with one of mine. It’s an uncommon name—trust me—and he was the first to use it. However, I’m glad for this. This coincidence inspires me to make my book (and character) of a higher standard. It inspires me not to change my character’s name but instead make him more meaningful to the reader. I was putting off writing this character’s most important scene (sorry about what happens, buddy) until today. He’s probably more important to my book than this guy’s character is to that terrible novel. (Again, I’m sorry about what happens in your big scene, but you know it will do [another character of mine] a lot of good.) I’ve become quite fond of mine in the past few months (*poke* love youuuu) and the more I know him the more it’s a joy to work with him.

No, I’m not competitive with writing, but when I see another author putting one of my characters to shame I can’t stand for it. Look out, people! This literary world may be big enough for the two of them, but that doesn’t mean it should be.

A year after writing out the plot to my new series, I’m still excited for it. Several years in and many drafts later, there will finally be justice. The terrible state of Young Adult Fiction will come to pass and any young author who takes good care of her imagination (I said I’m sorry, okay?!) will release her babies into the world to entertain. Between now and then, my experience with poorly written stories will inspire me to do better because I know this name for a certain type of character can belong to someone readers will adore. The genres for this age group is already improving, and I want to be part of it when my story is finally in print.

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