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Young Adult Fiction > Define Young Adult

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message 1: by R. (new)

R. (rholland) | 102 comments Define Young Adult in your opinion. What crosses the line and what is just enough? I've found myself reading some excellent Young Adult books, but I would label them as New Adult. My neices are in middle school and high school and love to read. Their favorite is mystery. I would like to write for them one day but I'm struggling with the concept of what a young adult book really consists of. They tell me the books they read in the library have cursing but I still wouldn't recommend them a book with strong language, nor would I write one as such and give it to them. If anyone could clarify the definition of Young Adult, I would greatly appreciate it.

message 2: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) | 362 comments I write as if they overlap. Young Adult 15-21. New Adult 16-24. That said, it is clear that YA books are being read by 12 year olds, and both YA and NA books are being read by people in their 80's. Good writing is good writing. Parents of young teens still need to be involved, although as the parent of two boys, now grown, sometimes it is wise to look the other way.

message 3: by Judy (new)

Judy Goodwin | 136 comments I've come to the conclusion that YA is more of a mindset than a true genre or age group. The protagonists tend to be younger (aged 12 to 25) and you may have readers as young as 11 or 12 but also older readers who enjoy reading about young protagonists. There tends to be a freshness to the energy and emotional drama (so very teen.) New Age differs for me in that it's more of that "I'm a brand new adult now and nobody can tell me what to do" college age feel.

message 4: by L.L. (new)

L.L. Watkin (LLWatkin) | 20 comments As a genre it's pretty vague. Many books I read in my mid teens were marketed for adults then, but are now classed as young adult. Still read mostly by adults.

Sometimes I think the whole category is a marketing spin which basically means "non explicit but mature themes". Like a 15 movie which is similar in theme and style to an 18 except that you cut away from the nasty stuff 10 seconds earlier.

message 5: by Mary (new)

Mary Hogan | 122 comments Hi All. As the author of seven Young Adult novels, I'd say there are definitely unspoken guidelines any Y.A. wants to follow if she/he wants to be successful. Number One: Parents really DO get involved in the book selections at the school library. Unless your book is the Teen Who Couldn't Stop Swearing, I'd say, stop swearing. You'll be a better writer if you figure out how to express yourself without it. Second, I was always aware of my reader (unlike adult fiction which I now write). As teen writers, we really do have a responsibility to present authentic, viable solutions to teen problems. Why write an awful kid who never gets his comeuppance? Or a nerd who doesn't succeed at something? A great story is paramount, but I truly feel that it's partly our job to uplift, too. Finally, the S.E.X. question. I cannot tell you how many girls emailed me to find out what happened to the boy in one of my books. Kids take our books to HEART. So, for me, any sex scene HAS to be a love scene with protection and a full awareness of the consequences. And the girl/boy both have to be mature/old enough. Why else write it if not to inspire the way things SHOULD be.

I know a lot of Y.A. authors will argue with me. The STORY is king. Period. I agree. But when you're dealing with impressionable minds, why not make your story meaningful, too. Just sayin...

message 6: by R. (new)

R. (rholland) | 102 comments Thanks everyone and Mary: "You'll be a better writer if you figure out how to express yourself without it." I remember my first year of teaching when a fourth grader showed me a book that had the b-word in it and I pulled it from the shelf and never pulled it out again. I had moved into a classroom mid-year where the previous teacher left everything. All I could think about was a parent asking why her fourth grader was exposed to that language. The book was seventh grade reading level which the student was reading at the time. I learned that my highest readers were exposed to that occasionally and it really never bothered them. Maturity level I guess. Anyhow, I do have my work cut out for me to write clean and still leave them with an overall interesting story.

message 7: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) | 362 comments In my book Surviving the Fog, I deliberately had the kids gradually swear more and more. The reason was so that when their first children were born, they could have a discussion of the reasons not to swear. I had the first sexual encounter include a boy who was too young, so that they could see why that was not a good idea. And I included a relationship between an adult and a teenager, so the adult could remain abstinent until she was older, and so the girl could realize what he was doing, and why he was doing this. I agree with Mary that lessons are important, but self control is not easy to teach rather than preach unless you put teens in situations that require self control.

message 8: by Lillian (new)

Lillian (momwithareadingproblem) As a reader of both genres, what I've seen is the content/maturity levels differ. NA will have strong language, sex scenes, and may deal with topics such as abortion, abuse, and rape. YA may have these as well, but instead of going into details about a sex scene (for example) it would allude that this was done. Foul language in a YA book is rare and most of the time no F-bombs. Hope this helps as it's just my opinion and observations :)

message 9: by R. (new)

R. (rholland) | 102 comments Lillian wrote: "As a reader of both genres, what I've seen is the content/maturity levels differ. NA will have strong language, sex scenes, and may deal with topics such as abortion, abuse, and rape. YA may have t..."

Lillian and all thanks. It does help a lot. I have read some that were labeled as YA and I enjoyed them but I think if they lacked that Adult content they would have been missing the intensity. These books would certainly not have been recommended to my nieces, and I read them because they were either free, on sale, or they just seemed to peak my interest. Either way, I'm going to continue to label mine as Adult content and try to clean it up so I can actually write a book they may enjoy.

message 10: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Sonnenberg (jsonnenberg) | 24 comments I agree that it is pretty vague, and I agree that many adult readers enjoy reading about young protagonists. Anyone can read young adult, especially those that are young at heart and have a special appreciation for it.
I always had a hard time with labels on books, but have found that if a book was just labeled "Adult" that some younger readers would not be interested.

message 11: by Scott (new)

Scott Hylton | 11 comments For me, YA is between 18-29. It's an age group where people have finally reached the age of full independance, and start discovering what maturity, responsibility, and accountability are all about. The same rings true to me about YA books, it's a book that teaches young people about adult values. I feel like a person doesn't need to be a young adult to enjoy YA fiction.

By this definition, I don't consider books like Twilight to be YA, but more in the Teen Drama genre. Yet, I can consider books like Harry Potter to apply to the YA genre, if that makes any sense.

message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul Lovell (powerpuffgeezer) Is my book INAPPROPRIATE MATERIAL for YA?

I was steering away myself, thinking they may be a little impressionable. (condescendingly patronising?)

Here is a link.

message 13: by Randolph (last edited Feb 18, 2014 10:08AM) (new)

Randolph (us227381) I've always wondered about this. Why is The Book Thief or The Graveyard Book categorized as YA instead of say just historical fiction or fantasy? It seems to me that a de facto rating system is involved in at least some YA genre definitions that eschew explicit sex and the f-bomb. I'm reading Ship Breaker now and this could easily just fit into Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl sf milieu and not just be pigeonholed as YA. I think YA scares some adult readers off of some really profound books.

message 14: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 182 comments Is there an expectation for YA fiction to be centred around some sort of romance? It seems to me that the books that do well tend to be a love story, a tale of unrequieted desire, a love triangle, etc. I was quite excited to see a lot of YA science-fiction coming out, but a lot of these are simply romances with sci-fi settings.

message 15: by Steph (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 182 comments Faye wrote: "A lady from Noble publishing told me that YA is categorized by the ages of the two main characters, regardless of if it was historical, sci-fi etc..."

Interesting... So there has to be two main characters? That suggests that the relationship angle is important.

message 16: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 542 comments YA is an age category NOT a genre.

YA runs the gauntlet of genres, as does adult fiction. It can be contemporary, epic fantasy, horror, historical etc. The Book Thief is YA Historical. I'm not sure why GR chooses to separate it out, or it might just be a reflection of how those books are shelved?

Walk into a bookstore, the YA section contains a large number of books in a vast array of genres. The age category is used to signify that the content is more relevant to teen aged readers and usually deals with the types of issues they are facing.

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