Young adult or adult?

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Young adult or adult?

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1MarkJH
oct. 28, 2013, 6:06pm

I've just posted a similar question on another forum, but I'm wondering what elements or characteristics are present for a young adult novel to have cross over appeal (or even be considered to be) for adults readers?

2BookLizard
oct. 28, 2013, 8:47pm

For a YA novel to have adult appeal, it has to be either a coming of age novel or a fantasy/science fiction novel.

3MarkJH
oct. 29, 2013, 5:35am

That's a really interesting point. What makes you say that?

It's especially relevant to me because I write in the YA fantasy genre, so this is very helpful research to me.

4Booksloth
oct. 29, 2013, 6:15am

It has to be well-written. Adults are used to a certain level of literacy (at least, I would hope so) and I'm happy to read any genre as long as the writing is good and the plot not too obvious. I'm more inclined to ask the question 'What makes a novel a YA novel?' By the time one reaches young adulthood, one has usually read a good few 'adult' level books and so can understand subtleties of plot, allegory, imagery etc that may, from necessity, be absent in books for children. To me, it seems that many books that find themselves categorised for young adults just seem tyo have something in their plots or themes that might be expected to appeal to a young audience - they might have a child or teenager as the protagonist (eg. His Dark Materials) or be about animals (Watership Down etc) but the actual writing, if the book is to appeal to all ages, should not differ from writing that is aimed at adults alone. And, perhaps most importantly, the moment the author starts to talk down to his or her audience is the moment the book becomes suitable for neither age group.

5BookLizard
oct. 29, 2013, 8:57am

4> It has to be well-written. *cough* Twilight *cough*

Booksloth makes a good point about what makes a book YA - younger protagonists, which is what I was going for with the "coming of age" comment. But also, the major difference between YA and Adult fantasy is the amount of sex and violence. Violence is more acceptable (Hunger Games), especially if it's not graphic or happens "off-screen."

The best advice I can give is to write a story you'd want to read. If you intend it for YA, leave out graphic details. Yes, it should be well-written, but if you want to capture a wider audience, you need to have captivating characters or an engrossing plot.

6MarkJH
oct. 29, 2013, 10:00am

Making the writing accessible for a younger audience while still maintaining quality is certainly the difficult part. I suspect that however much I might start out writing something for the YA market, by the time I'm finished it will always be a little darker than I expected. That's just me I suppose! The book I just put out on Kindle is my best shot at appealing to everyone. If only it was so simple :)

7macsbrains
oct. 29, 2013, 9:25pm

I think the main difference between YA and 'adult' books is perspective, not content.

Disregard any notions about what is 'for kids' because what are 'adult' themes anyway? I'm going to use Hunger Games as the crossover example here because it contains many serious themes, but it is also unquestionably YA. There is a line in those books where one of the characters asks another (re: the innocence of the next generation of children): "It scares me to think that I will have to tell them about my experiences in life. But how will I tell them without scaring them?" By giving them them a book about it; about the effects of war on children and young people written from a perspective they can better understand. It simply doesn't follow that war and violence can only be adult themes when they don't only affect adults.

In short, if you treat your story seriously, but with an eye to a YA perspective that sees the world a little differently, I think you will have crossover appeal.

(Note: I tried to get more into what I consider a YA perspective, but, not being a writer myself I got frustrated when I could not communicate effectively what I was trying to say so I'll sit on it for a bit, but by all means discuss.)

8weener
oct. 29, 2013, 10:38pm

I agree that it's more perspective than content. These days, I'm unlikely to enjoy a YA book that has pages and pages of complaining and pining and pointless drama. However, there are plenty of them, and I liked those books as a teen because that's what life was all about!

I do like YA books about teens with serious problems and how they handle them - Hunger Games, The Chosen One, and If I Stay are examples.

9Booksloth
oct. 30, 2013, 6:26am

#5 4> It has to be well-written. *cough* Twilight *cough*

Point taken (though I've only read the first page of Twilight . Is it really meant to be for adults as well? I guess I was talking about what makes a YA novel appeal to me. Twilight doesn't.

10MarkJH
nov. 3, 2013, 8:35am

And there is a tricky question of romance. A lot of YA stories have some kind of romantic angle (I have to admit mine does as well!). Is this a positive or a negative? Depends how it's handled I suppose.

11pwaites
nov. 3, 2013, 3:34pm

10> I think at this point publishers are reluctant to publish a YA book that doesn't have a romance plot.

12SIDunbar
Editat: nov. 11, 2013, 9:08pm

I'm with Weener on the perspective thing.

When I think of YA fiction, I think of stories being told from the perspective of young adult characters. The content can vary, but if you're writing for YA readers, you should write in a voice they can relate to.