Whether reading or writing, we all want colorful characters. People who will jump off the page and make us care. When writing for young adults, the extremes seem to be:
Typical, everyday teens = not so interesting
Teens with supernatural or paranormal skills = not all that likely
There’s more to it, of course. For instance, most of Sarah Dessen’s characters seem pretty typical on the surface. And everyone knows how successful Stephanie Meyers has been with her vampires. Yep, they attend a regular high school.
But if you look closely at Dessen’s characters, they aren’t all that typical. They have special skills, unique problems, and/or interesting challenges. And the Twilight vampires are also firmly grounded in a very real love story.
So where’s that middle ground? Think of it like a college application. Not that all characters need a 4.0 or top SAT scores (boring!). But what they need is passion. For something. Or several things. They need to be colorful, and interesting.
Anna, from Stephanie Perkins’ ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS: passionate about films (and about a certain cute guy with great hair)
Lucy, from Cynthia Jaynes Omololu’s DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS: passionate about covering up an incredible family secret
Andi, from Jennifer Donnely’s REVOLUTION: passionate about her music and about the history she escapes into
These teens are definitely far from typical.
But it doesn’t mean they need to be vampires.