Nashville author Ruta Sepetys debut Young Adult historical novel, BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, will be published in Spring 2011 (Philomel/Penguin).
Winner of an SCWBI work-in-progress award, Ruta’s novel features a courageous 15-year-old protagonist, Lina Vilkas, a Lithuanian who is arrested by the Soviet Secret Police and deported to Siberia with her mother and younger brother. Her father is sentenced to death in a Soviet prison camp.
Between 1940 and 1953, Stalinist Russia imprisoned and deported more than 300,000 Lithuanians. They were shipped in cattle cars across Europe and into Asia to die in the forests of Siberia. Ruta’s family members were among them.
In BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, Lina Vilkas struggles to survive, to retain her dignity and to keep from losing all faith in mankind. So that the world may know and to honor her family and the thousands like hers, Lina writes her story, which she buries in a jar.
You may discover more about this exciting new author by clicking: Ruta Sepetys . Or by clicking here: BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY .
Ruta is an incredibly talented writer (and reader!) and I am absolutely delighted she is has agreed to provide a guest post here on Writing Teen Voice.
And let me tell you, I love Ruta’s Four L’s and have found this post one of the most helpful yet in thinking about my own writing. Thank you, Ruta!
Writing Teen Voice: The Four L’s
by Ruta Sepetys
In reading young adult novels I’ve found that voice often falls into one of the four “L’s”:
All four “L’s” can make for a distinct and compelling voice. Below is the loose association of the “L” to the voice and main character:
Leader. Voice has a commanding presence. Main character has a strong internal compass or is popular.
Loser, Voice is succinct or terse. Main character has low self-esteem or is ridiculed by peers.
Laugher. Voice is snappy or humorous. Main character is self-effacing but may be hiding true emotion or using humor to cope.
Loner. Voice is introspective and sometimes poetic. Main character is an observer and often feels misunderstood.
When I read a YA novel I’m always curious how the voice relates to the author’s personal experience as a youth and teen.
For example, let’s say a certain writer (I’m not mentioning any names but maybe her initials are RS) had a big fat wart on her face as a child that caused a lot of ridicule. Perhaps she uses humor to band-aid her trampled heart. She writes with the voice of a Laugher and identifies with characters who are a bit broken or humiliated.
So my question for you writers is: Does your voice reflect your experience as a teen or do you write from a perspective outside of your personal experience? Perhaps you were a Loner in school but now you write from the perspective of a Leader?
Do you fall into any of the “L” categories above? Are you a combination of a couple? Or are you a category all your own?