Building Blocks for a YA Story

Although the month has changed, I still have one post for last month’s theme of YA fiction. My Monday Sparks Writing Prompts have been about the building blocks for a YA story, encouraging readers to vote on a protagonist, antagonist, plot, and setting. All the elements are pictured above and I’ll list them below. I’ll write an opening with these building blocks for a YA story and you can use the same building blocks to write your own opening in the comments. I’d love to know how these elements inspire you!

  • Protagonist: Young man
  • Antagonist: Young woman
  • Plot: Puzzle. A mysterious problem the protagonist must solve and the antagonist tries to prevent him from solving. Does not have to be crime related.
  • Main settings: Small-town library and pizza place

“That’s too cool,” said Ava as she tried to cram another coffee table book on the shelves for oversized books. “How many people get invited to the reading of a will? I hope you have to go to Mrs.Vander’s house in a storm at night.”

“Actually, it’s in the lawyer’s office tomorrow at 11 am,” I said, moving down the aisle to slide a book into the pets section. “And my mom’s going with me since I’m underage.”

“It still might storm,” said Ava with a grin.

Once I’d emptied my cart of returned books, I wheeled it into the main walkway through the adult nonfiction. And almost crashed into Amyra Vander.

“You aren’t really coming to the reading of the will, are you?” she asked, flinging long strands of red-enhaced hair over her shoulder.

My eyes were swelling wide open. In the two years I’d worked at the main branch of the library, I’d never seen Amyra in it. In fact, although we’d been in the same grade since kindergarten, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spoken to her. Being an average-looking guy with average-brains and below-average talent and ambitions seemed to keep me off the radar of the High Queen of the High School.

“She probably only left you $50.” Her brown eyes–maybe hazel–narrowed to mean little streaks. “She couldn’t have left anything more to her lawn boy.”

“Then I’ll get my check and leave.” I gave her my polite, I’m-working-so-I-can’t-chat smile that I always kept handy for any patron who saw me as target for a conversation.

“Why humiliate yourself? Just don’t show.”

I kept walking away.

“I know you heard me. You’d better not show.”

3 thoughts on “Building Blocks for a YA Story

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  1. You have a great start!!!! Love it! I’ll see what I can come up with:

    The best part about working at the Pizza Parlor is the employee discount. The worst part is my crabby boss Shay, who happens to be a year younger than me, which is totally awkward. I hate taking orders from her. Especially since she’s my step-sister. My know-it-all, entitled-to-everything, step-sister. Makes me so mad. I worked here first anyway, so how fair is that?

    I shake my head in disgust as she profusely apologizes over the phone to a customer. “I’ll give you a refund and a free pizza. I’m so sorry that my delivery boy brought you the wrong pizza. I’ll send him back with the correct order. He’ll bring it in 35 minutes.”

    A fraction of a second after she hangs up the phone she hollers over her shoulder. “Eric, do that again and you’re fired.”

    “Are you really gonna take that from her?” mumbles Drew as he spreads sauce on dough.

    “She’s only nice to you cuz she thinks you’re hot.”

    Drew quirks an eyebrow. “She said that?”

    I laugh and drop the stack of delivery bags on the counter. “Where to next?”

    Drew sprinkles a handful of shredded cheese on the pizza, tips his head toward Shay and then pins me with a serious stare. “The most recent order I heard is going to the library.”

    My jaw drops. A beat of silence. “Seriously?”

    “That’s what I overheard.” Drew’s voice is barely above a whisper. I gulp. The library is not where I want to deliver a pizza anymore. I used to love delivering pizzas to the library, especially when Marian is working. But I don’t want to go there now. Not since the librarian disappeared two weeks ago. Not since her car washed up in last week’s spring rain flood. Not since the librarian assistants reported a threatening series of emails this week. Not since Marian, the cute librarian aid, asked Drew and me to help her solve this. When I asked her why she wanted our help, she showed me one of the creepy emails. It had a picture of my Jeep. I shiver.

    “Eric!” Shay barks. “These two pizzas. The ones in my hands. Should I put them in your Jeep for you so you get it right this time? Take them to the library and don’t dawdle.”

    “Dude, before you go,” Drew elbows me. “Look at my phone.”

    I glance to the corner counter where Drew’s phone is plugged in, fully charged and out of sight of the customers. I press the button and a message from Marian fills the screen. “Majorly suspicious guy lurking in non-fiction. Can you or Eric come ASAP?”

      1. Your pictures and reading your story starters are so good for my imagination – part of where I start is just thinking, “Okay, Jennifer has an awesome start here….how could I make it different?” So thank you for your kind words, and for spurring me to think creatively 🙂

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