Author Craft Review 3: Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

The purpose of this blog is to highlight techniques/tricks used by recently-published authors, so that upcoming authors can build a relevant reading list based on what publishers are currently buying.

TODAY’S YA CONTEMPORARY BOOK: In a recent author-mentorship contest, several of the mentors listed Leila Sales on their wishlist as a writing style they’d like to see from potential YA mentees, hence my curiosity to see what all the fuss was about. Well, the fuss was warranted, and I’ve narrowed, as always, to the top three reasons why.

THE STORY: Mid-crisis with every major relationship in her life, seventeen-year-old Arden finds solace in the blog of another teen. After a breaking point, Arden sets out to track down the blog author, who’s not what she expected, but maybe that’s true of all her expectations in life.

Here’s what I think Sales did especially well.

FAIRY TALE TOUCHES: The poetic narration has a once-upon-a-time feel, from chapter titles down to chronology. For those authors who worry about repetition of words in their own work, Leila Sales is the master at how to do this right. (More on this below.)

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CREATIVE 2ND POV: For those who vied for PitchWars mentee spots in 2016 (I link to this aspiring-author contest at the bottom of this post), you know that many of the published young adult mentors were asking for “cute” epistolary things like letters, emails and texts. In Tonight the Streets are Ours, the second POV is told through blog posts, and recounted in such as way as to keep readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more. When reading the book, watch how Sales transitions into and between blog posts, and then note where she chooses to show an entire blog post, versus where she summarizes content.

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BREAKING THE RULES: As budding authors, we inundate our brains with novel-writing rules, hoping that if we follow them all, we’ll reach that pinnacle of success: a publishing deal. Rules like avoid repetition, avoid long sentences, avoid filter words, and avoid multiple tenses. But then there’s the mantra that says anyone in any creative profession can break the rules, but they first have to know the rules to successfully break them. So how do we know if we’re knowledgeable enough to break a certain rule? Use Tonight the Streets Are Ours as a benchmark to judge your work against. I’m not advising anyone to break the rules. I’m saying Sales did it well, and she’s traditionally published, so no matter your genre, check out her writing to see if your throw-caution(and rules)-to-the-wind writing style is as good as hers.

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HOW TO ADD THE BOOK TO YOUR READING LIST:

  • Add it on Goodreads here
  • Order it here

Click here to find out about the annual PitchWars contest for aspiring authors.

And most importantly, we should be friends on Goodreads and Twitter.

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