Here's a blurb of A CONSPIRACY OF US from Goodreads:
To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.
Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.
They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.
To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.
Doesn't it sound good? Now here's Maggie.
7 Tips for Pacing a YA Thriller
Pacing is important to any writer, and to any book. You never want a reader to say your story was so slow-paced it put them to sleep! But a quick pace is especially important in action-oriented books, and it was very important to me while writing my own debut, a YA international thriller.
My book, THE CONSPIRACY OF US, is in some ways more like many published adult thrillers than like anything currently in YA. It involves a global conspiracy, international settings, and a chase across Europe a la DaVinci Code or James Bond. So I knew from the start I wanted to write a fast-paced story, but it was also important to me to maintain a decidedly YA feel. I learned a few key points about thriller pacing along the way, and tweaked them to my purposes, and I’d love to share them with you today.
1. Start with action. Many adult thrillers I read start with immediate life-threatening danger. While this is certainly one strategy to hook a reader, especially in YA, readers usually prefer to know the character before they’re asked to care whether they die or not! So when I say start with action, I don’t necessarily mean start with a knife to your MC’s throat, but start with something that asks questions; something out of the ordinary; something hopefully related to your overall plot action.
2. Alternate up and down scenes. Chase scenes lose their meaning when there are ten of them in a row.
3. Go big or go home. It’s a thriller! Make it thrilling! One of my favorite questions to ask myself is: How can I make this bigger? Not every single scene has to be huge and over-the-top, but peppering in some big moments can really add to the peaks and valleys of your pacing. And the big moments don’t just have to be action. Especially in YA, they can (and should!) sometimes be personal. A confrontation, a meeting, a kiss.
4. What seems to take longer in real life should take up less page space, and what feels like it goes by very quickly should take up more. (This is a quote paraphrased from some famous writing advice, and I can’t remember who originally said it! Can anyone help me out?) No one wants to read an entire chapter about a character brushing their teeth and washing their face to get ready for bed, even if that takes up the same number of minutes as the important conversation you spent a whole chapter on earlier. And you sure as heck better spend more time telling us about your MC’s too-short one-minute interaction with her crush than you do on the interminable twenty minutes she sat on the bus earlier.
5. You often don’t need the beginning and end of chapters. Your characters are going from one place to another? Unless they get in a car chase on the way, you don’t need to show them getting there. Your MC has decided to leave the restaurant to pursue a clue? Unless she gets in an important fight with someone on the way out, cut the scene at her decision. Readers will understand that she left without spending boring time reading about it.
6. Maintain suspense. Alfred Hitchcock has a famous quote about the difference between surprise and suspense. Let a bomb no one knows about explode, and the audience is surprised for seconds. Plant the seed that something bad could happen, and they’re in suspense for the whole movie. Suspense, according to him, is all about anticipation. To apply this to pacing, the thriller writer must make sure there is enough suspense planted early enough to keep the audience on the edge of their seats immediately, but not too early the audience gets tired of waiting for the resolution.
7. Make it all about your MC. All these tips are really just tricks to make the reader feel like they’re living the action alongside your main character. If you can really get in her head, all the better! Your main character inherently knows how to pace a story. She has a lot to say about being shot at. She has a lot to say about a kiss, even if it only lasts thirty seconds. She has a lot less to say about waiting for the elevator. In fact, she’d probably skip telling you about waiting for the elevator at all, because it’s pretty much the same for everyone, and why would she waste any of her story telling you that?
About the author:
Maggie Hall indulges her obsession with distant lands and far-flung adventures as often as she can. She has played with baby tigers in Thailand, learned to make homemade pasta in Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains through the vibrant countryside of India. In her past life, she was a bookstore events coordinator and marketing manager, and when she's not on the other side of the world, she lives with her husband and their cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she watches USC football, dabbles in graphic design, and blogs about young adult literature for YA Misfits.
You can find Maggie at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-conspiracy-of-us-maggie-hall/1119671351?ean=9780399166501
Maggie has generously offered a copy of A CONSPIRACY OF US for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 24th. I’ll announce the winner on January 26th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry.This is for US only.
Here's what's coming up:
Next Monday I have a guest post by debut author Susan Adrian and her agent Kate Schafer Testerman and a giveaway of TUNNEL VISION, her YA thriller. And there's going to be a query critique by Kate too!
Next Wednesday I have a guest post by Robert Kent and a giveaway of his new middle grade book, BANNIKER BONES.
The following Monday I have a fantastic guest post by Dianne Salerni on writing a trilogy and an ARC giveaway of INQUISITOR'S MARK, the second book in her middle grade fantasy.
And the Monday after that I have an interview with follower and blogger friend David Powers King and his co-author Michael Jensen and a giveaway of their fantastic YA fantasy WOVEN.
Hope to see you on Monday!