Christian Speculative Fiction discussion

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YA vs Adult Fiction

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message 1: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
I have been wondering, what do you think is the difference between young adult speculative fiction and adult speculative fiction? I was recently in a Barnes and Noble bookstore, and they have nearly all the new SFF fiction in the young adult section and all the classic SFF from the 70s and 80s in the adult section. Since most of the books in these genres have a protagonist who are teens or in their early twenties, I can't help wonder what the difference is?


message 2: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments YA and adult fiction, from my experience, definitely have very distinct vibes in the messages they convey and the character arcs they carry their characters.

YA tends to focus on the person, their emotions, their internal dialogue, their struggles, and how adolescence plays a part in all of that. There are major teenage themes like "Who am I?", feeling powerless or inadequate in a world where you're a half-adult, moral ambiguity as you discover new worldviews and shatter old ones. All of these are classically wrapped in packages of different environments (dystopia being the most recent hot-ticket one)

Adult fiction tends to focus less on those "growing pains" per say and instead has a clearer vision of the overall plot, the character's arc thematically (basically how their need changes their want and how they grow as a character, not just as a person). Their adolescence is more used as a tool to help convey whatever theme or message the author is trying to portray, as opposed to an in-vivo experiment of the teenage psyche.

Also there tends to be huge differences in prose. YA is simple, more straight forward, and more dialogue heavy (usually). Adult fiction tends to have heavier prose.

Personally both have their major strengths, but there is a lot of blurring with the genres these days. I have a YA scifi racing novel in the works that I am super excited to write, but i'd categorize my current novel - Kingdom Come - as more adult fiction but with heavy YA vibes (because I do overall like the more simplistic prose style of YA).


message 3: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Justin wrote: "YA and adult fiction, from my experience, definitely have very distinct vibes in the messages they convey and the character arcs they carry their characters.

YA tends to focus on the person, their..."


This makes sense. I had one person tell me that YA was generally cleaner and lighter, but Twilight is considered YA. I am not sure I really like separating out the age groups so much beyond the mid-teens. I have even seen New Adult for twenty-something as becoming its own category. Seems a bit much.


message 4: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments At the end of the day the genre only serves as a quick communication device to the reader on what to expect, nothing more. So if you're wanting to write a story I'd say not to worry about genre until you're wanting to decide publishing options.

I'd definitely say YA isn't identified by being cleaner. Maze Runner is a very gruesome story, for example. And any story with vampires is bound to be racy these days.

I think New Adult is sort of blending the simpler writing styles of YA with the more mature and less tumultuous characters of adult fiction. I'd say my book definitely would more fit "New Adult" if I really cared to fit it somewhere.


message 5: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Something else that's always helped me identity a book as YA is the lack of background justification for what happens or is done. It's a question of what is or isn't necessary for suspension of disbelief. E.g., a question that would surely occur to an adult—like, "Where are they getting the money for all this?"—wouldn't cross the mind of a young teenager.

So YA books tend to be strong on action, characters, love, and the other things mentioned above; but weak on justification or real-life validation of its plotlines. There's no need of that to help the target audience suspend disbelief.

I'm not familiar with 'New Adult', but I guess that would be somewhere in between where justification is concerned.


message 6: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments I struggle with the decision to market my books as YA or adult. The Seven Words series books have been enjoyed by thirteen-year old readers to sixty-plus year old readers (some early pre-publication, some since release). Though they are clean, there is some violence (nothing graphic) and darkness. My MC is a teenager (for most of The Sorcerer's Bane) and though he deals with the angst of an abusive childhood and need to come to terms with his calling, he also (in The Light Arises) begins to move forward with a clear vision of what he's called to accomplish.

I really think my books can be classified as hybrids having elements of both categories. The question remains: If I list them under adult am I missing the YA audience and vice versa? (The whole marketing thing.) This is still a question I wrestle with though I've not marketed them as YA, which was my original plan.

I like the way Justin has explained the differences. It makes sense. But it's also true that neither category is cut and dried from the other. I myself read across the board. If something appeals to me I'll read it no matter the age category.

Like Steve, 'New Adult' is a term I've not heard before. It will be interesting to see if this term will merge the two categories.


message 7: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments Honestly I just avoid either tags unless I specifically want that market. I prefer to just stick with the story genre as opposed to the audience genre.

Example: "Paranormal Fantasy" as opposed to "YA Paranormal"


message 8: by C.S. (new)

C.S. Wachter | 351 comments Justin wrote: "Honestly I just avoid either tags unless I specifically want that market. I prefer to just stick with the story genre as opposed to the audience genre.

Example: "Paranormal Fantasy" as opposed to ..."
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I guess that's what I did without even thinking about it. I just went with Christian, Epic Fantasy.

I did find your words insightful though. Once again thanks for sharing your logic in the distinctions between YA and adult.


message 9: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
C.S. wrote: "Like Steve, 'New Adult' is a term I've not heard before. It will be interesting to see if this term will merge the two categories."

I wish this were the case, but what I find in the bookstores and with publishers is teen (12-15), Young Adult (15-19), and New Adult (19-25). I have gone back and forth on marketing my book to Young Adult or Adult for the same reasons everyone here has listed. After the most recent school shooting just south of us, I have decided that I want the young adults to have the optimism and hope I try to convey in my books. So I am now decidedly a Young Adult writer even though I have adult readers.


message 10: by J.F. (last edited Jun 03, 2018 05:03AM) (new)

J.F. (jfrogers) | 49 comments Lara wrote: "I have been wondering, what do you think is the difference between young adult speculative fiction and adult speculative fiction? I was recently in a Barnes and Noble bookstore, and they have nearl..."

To answer this specific question regarding the books from the 70's or 80's being in the adult section, I think the difference is simply when they were written. I have a teen and she has no interest in anything from those era's. Teens today, if they read, want books that are new. I believe the only people that would pick up books from the earlier era's would be adults wanting to go back to that time...for the most part. There are always exceptions.


message 11: by Stan (new)

Stan | 288 comments Mod
J.F. wrote: "To answer this specific question regarding the books from the 70's or 80's being in the adult section, I think the difference is simply when they were written. I have a teen and she has no interest in anything from those era's. Teens today, if they read, want books that are new. I believe the only people that would pick up books from the earlier era's would be adults wanting to go back to that time...for the most part. There are always exceptions. "

I think this captures the difference between literature and more common fiction. Literature seems to stand the test of time. More common fiction is often limited to the author's generation for its audience. I'm probably oversimplifying and generalizing, but this seems to be true.


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