Monday, April 30, 2012

Flesh Out Your YA Characters

Quick Update:  Have no way to obtain the next two books in the series I've been re-reading. This makes me sad. But hey, second to last A-Z post! And technically post #101 (even though Blogger counts published and unpublished posts, so maybe that doesn't count).

Song Stuck In My Head: "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day as covered by Vitamin String Quarter. That's right, an orchestra song.

On SSF, we try to merge the world of pop culture and YA writing into one. As always, music is one of the more enjoyable ways to go about doing this. And while this isn’t the first time I’ve created a playlist for YA writing, this is the first to help with characterization. We do see a variety of “types” in YA, after all. We also see characters that don't have a type, and are pretty awesome...except they're missing, well, something.

Need more darkness to your character? You don’t need to make a character Goth or wear a spiked collar to make them a little shadowy inside. If your character is a little shallow or light-minded, and shouldn’t be, then try THE INDECENT. They’re an up-and-coming band from New York with a pure grunge sound. Listen to the girl singer for one second, and you’ll feel and understand teen angst, hurt, pain. But it won’t come off as over-the-top or corny.

Choice songs: “25 Steps”, “Her Screwed Up Songs”, “Lucky Ones”

Also check out… White Lie’s “Death”, Green Day’s “Brain Stew/Jaded”, Halestorm’s “Familiar Taste of Poison”, Sound garden’s “Black Hole Sun”.

Need more oddness to your character? You’re not asking to have a character so quirky Zooey Deschanel will be envious. You just need something unique or off-the-wall about your character that’ll make him/her more real or memorable. FOSTER THE PEOPLE will always be your best bet. Their mix of dark/thoughtful lyrics and poppy/catchy music makes them very odd indeed.

Choice songs: “Pumped Up Kicks”, “Call It What You Want”, “Don’t Stop”

Also check out…Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta”, Liz Phair’s “Extraordinary”, Weezer’s “Pork & Beans”, Silverchair’s “Freak”.

Need more sentimentality to your character? Maybe he’s a tough guy or girl who needs some redeeming qualities or emotions. Look no further than THREE DAYS GRACE. Though they may sound hard rock and look dark, Three Days Grace is one of the most emotionally charged bands out there today. Adam Gontier, the lead singer, manages to sound vulnerable and tough. They're my go-to band for my own WIP.

Choice songs: “Never Too Late”, “Running Away”, “Home”. Also check out Adam’s solo cover of “Wicked Game”.

Also check out… P!nk’s “Sober”, Stone Temple Pilot’s “Sour Girl”, Paramore’s “Brick By Boring Brick”, Katy Perry’s “Lost”.

Need more badassery to your character? Maybe they’re a weakling and need a stronger shell. Maybe you need more of fighter. You need music with spunk and the nerve to punch back, to spit in your face. There’s going to be no one better than JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS for that. Joan Jett may be a little old-school, but there is nothing but timeless about her unapologetic, throaty, slack-jawed rock ‘tude. And that’s what you need with a badass character. Someone who won’t say sorry or take names. They just go with the flow.

Choice songs: “Bad Reputation”, “I Want You”, “Activity Grrrl”. Her version of "Cherry Bomb" is pretty snarky too.

Also check out…Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know”, Foo Fighter’s “The Pretender”, Hole’s “Violet”, Korn’s “Counting On Me”.

Need more morals/dreams & hopes to your character? What, your character does have aspirations and goals and motivation, right? No? Well, if you need to inject some Little Person with Big Dreams into your story, why not try out American Idol numero uno, Kelly Clarkson? She was the first to go from Nobody to Superstar, and has the songs and story to prove it.

Choice songs: “Breakaway”, “How I Feel”, “Miss Independent” (okay, so in that last one her dreams get overshadowed with love, but hey, CONFLICT! Booyah).

Also check out…Stacie Orrico’s “There’s Gotta Be More (to Life)”, Shinedown’s “Second Chance”, KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See”, My Chemical Romance’s “Bulletproof Heart”.

Just need more depth to your character? If it’s just that they’re not complex enough or don’t have enough secrets, then you need some complex music. Music that has a lot of history, grudges, memories, and hurt in it. This time, we’ll go back to the 90’s, to the beloved NIRVANA. We don’t all understand what Kurt Cobain was singing about. Heck, we’re not even sure how he died thanks to conspiracy theorists. But we do know there was a lot of emotions going through his head, thanks to the complicated and mixed sound of Nirvana’s songs.

Choice Songs: “In Bloom”, “All Apologies”, “Something In the Way”. His last song, "You Know You're Right", is a little layered too.

Also check out…Airborne Toxic Event’s “Sometime Around Midnight”, No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”, Hellyeah’s “You Wouldn’t Know”, Lady Gaga’s “Speechless”, the Killer's "Mr. Brightside".

Well…what about you? Do you have any go-to songs for characters? Is there a character type you have trouble with? Tell us. And I’ll see you soon for the LAST POST OF THE A-Z BLOGGING CHALLENGE AH! We made it here together! I have so many people to thank...


1 comment:

  1. I really dig your idea of fleshing out a character (and it could be applied to a character of any age) by capturing the emotions in a *song* - groovy concept! :-)

    Some Dark Romantic