1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Young Adult?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by JosephMarch, Mar 30, 2015.

    Trying to decide my genre.

    My story spans 20+ years, starting when the MC is 17. The bulk of the book is when she is a teenager. It is a love story/coming of age/finding oneself book.
    Is it considered YA? Or just plain old fiction?

    Thank you.
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    Sounds YAish. What happens when she's 37?
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It spans 20 years, so the MC would be 37 when it ends? Doesn't sound like YA to me. If it doesn't fit into some other category, then, yeah, I'd say it's probably general fiction.
     
  4. NiallRoach
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    I'm not an expert on YA, but if the majority of the book occurs when she's a teenager (which you've said it does), and it deals with typical YA themes (again, which you've said it does), and it's intended to be read as a YA book, then it's a YA book.

    I add the last one because target audience can't be forgotten. My most recently finished novel(la) centres around a trio of teenagers, but I'd never peg it as YA because it's not written for young adults; it's written for everybody (well, excepting children).

    What happens when she's 37? If it's simply a flash forward at the end for the character to say "Look how I was changed by the events of the book", then that's much less a problem than if the final confrontation and resolution happens when she's that old. That's not to say that the latter would be a deal breaker, though.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    to some extent I think it depends on how you write it too, the kind of tone/voice of your book. It's not just to do with simpler language and the perspective of a younger mind, but kind of the way themes and events are approached and the overall... colour of the book, if that makes sense.
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd to say to a very a large extent.
     
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  7. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this. To me, it doesn't matter much what age the character is when the story ends.

    Rick Riordan intended for the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series to be a children's book. It's IN the children's section at the bookstore. The story starts off with Percy as an 11-year-old. But by the end of the first series, he's 16, which is technically the YA age group. And the second series, Heroes of Olympus (also a children's book), many of the main characters are teenagers, and Percy is 18.

    So don't worry too much about age and go with theme. From what you described, it sounds YA to me.
     
  8. JosephMarch
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    She does have a confronation at 37 and ties up a lot of loose ends from her young years when someone from her past reappears.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would it be possible to skip the stuff at age 37? Or, how much of your book is taking place at that age? Just a sort of epilogue, or a good chunk?

    Others here obviously disagree, but I think the teen protagonist is a pretty accepted criteria for YA literature... see "Writers across the board at YALC [young Adult Literature Convention] agreed that the sine qua non of YA is an adolescent protagonist, who will probably face significant difficulties and crises, and grow and develop to some degree." (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/jul/31/ya-books-reads-young-adult-teen-new-adult-books)

    Can anyone give an example of a book classified as YA that has a protagonist in her 3os for a significant portion of the book?
     
  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    YA is less about subject matter than target AUDIENCE. Who are you writing to? What's the sex and violence level? Profanity? Would parents let their kids read your book? What's the grade level of your prose, etc.

    There are coming of age stories that are definitively NOT YA MATERIAL. In fact, quite a lot of coming-of-age stories are not going to be YA if you're talking about the ones that involve eroticism, messed-up sexual relationships, and a lot of the other really screwed up stuff that happens as adolescents cross into adulthood. One of my favorite stories about a teen coming of age is the movie "White Oleander"...but it's tremendously effed-up on about thirty different levels, well outside the boundaries of everything we would think about as YA, and not something I'd want a child under 16 to see (let alone spend time reading a book about)

    Just because it happens to young adults doesn't mean it's what we want young adults to read.
     
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  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. There are lots of novels that have teen protagonists that are not YA.

    My question is can anyone think of a novel WITHOUT a teen protagonist that IS YA.
     
  12. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not off hand but I don't read the genre. I would think that at some level stories for teens are by definition about teens. But I could be wrong.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    A whole lot of sci-fi is read by the YA market and while some of it has teen protags, not all of it does. Take all the Star Wars takeoffs and fanfic, for example, only some of them have the characters during their teen years.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But would that be marketed as YA? Seems like it should if the YA market reads it, but I'm not aware that Star Wars would be YA. I think of it as sci-fi (obv) for adults.
     
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  15. BayView
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    The "YA Market" is pretty hard to define. I've seen stats that 55% of YA books are bought by adults - some of them are probably giving the books to teens, but a lot of adults read YA. So I don't really know what the "YA Market" would mean.
     
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe simply send out queries to both agents who accept general fiction as well as YA?

    I guess another thing is - is it significant that the problems must be or can only be resolved when the MC is 37? Could it not be done while the MC is 18 or in their 20s rather, allowing it to fit more neatly into YA?

    Cus sometimes long periods of time are put between events rather arbitarily - or at least, that's a mistake I made once. I'd put an 8 year gap between a traumatising event that shapes my MC and the start of the story, but for no reason at all, and when I took the time gap away it worked a lot better. Not to say that's the case re the OP's novel, but it's worth looking into perhaps if it's causing your problems in terms of categorisation.
     
  17. NiallRoach
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    This is my biggest problem with the idea of YA books.
    We know that teenagers can and do read books which aren't YA. We know that people who aren't teenagers read books which are YA. How, then, can it be for young adults?

    That, when compounded with the fact that there's no limits on content (like you see with kidlit), and there's no unified genre (YA romance, YA fantasy...), makes me sit back and say "why does this even exist?"
     
  18. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are some unifying themes, I think - Chuck Wendig has a pretty good list of things at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/06/04/25-things-you-should-know-about-young-adult-fiction/ .

    But mostly why does it exist? It's a marketing category. It exists as a way to sell books.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    I think some of the books are as much YA as Twilight, which adults read in droves. I don't know many adults who eat up Star Wars books like it was decent sci-fi. That's not to dis any adult who likes it. I'm one of those adults that liked the Twilight books. But I think the biggest market for some sci-fi, regardless of the age of the protagonists is teens.

    The same is true for a lot of the superhero books. Adults may read them, and many may be aimed at the adult market, but I think it's a safe wager that teens make up the bulk of the market for many volumes of these books.
     
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  20. GingerCoffee
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  21. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not to get too far down the rat-hole here - but the one of the primary reasons we define things like "YA" or "Middle Grade" isn't for what's in them but for what's NOT in them. Namely gratuitous sex, violence, disturbing situations, excessive drug use, etc. Its like a rating system for movies - not that kids don't go see R-rated films, but we know what rated R means. That and there tend to be rules about the reading level it's written to. A lot of 16 year-olds could hack an adult book but a YA book is purposefully constructed to match the level of reading comprehension of the average high schooler, and middle-grade to match the average pre-teen.
     
  22. Mckk
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    I'd say "graphic" might be more accurate. I'm thinking of books like Hunger Games and Fault in Our Stars.

    Hunger Games definitely includes disturbing situations (thrown into an arena where you gotta kill or be killed? *shudders*) and the disturbing knowledge that criminals have their tongues cut out. And of course the stuff that happens to key characters in the third book, without giving spoilers. However, none of this was ever graphic. They were never described in vivid detail. We know certain things were done, but we never really see it very much.

    Fault in Our Stars - the characters had sex just the once but I honestly can't remember if the sex was described. The preamble was described with the taking clothes off etc, but the actual sex seems to be absent. Once again, we know it happened, but it's never seen.
     
  23. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah - it's the same as with PG-13 movies. People purposefully walk up to the line then stop right before they hit that R rating.
     
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  24. Lea`Brooks
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    I know it's been said before, but YA books also have a certain theme. Teens like to relate, and most YA books have situations that teens can relate to: school, family drama, first love, first sex, first everything. So YA books are written so that the teen can experience it with the protagonist.

    I'm sure there are a lot of teens who don't want to read adult books about getting and losing jobs, having kids, retiring. That's boring to them. And in the same way, I as an adult no longer want to read about first loves, the troubles of high school, etc.

    I used to have a great love for YA books as a teen. But after going back and rereading them as an adult, I no longer find them entertaining because the themes are so teen that it's unappealing. Dark Visions by L. J. Smith. Used to be my favorite. I loved the characters and the story and the drama. I went back and reread it a couple months ago.. Could barely get through the beginning because the protag was hopelessly in love with a stranger at first sight. Adults don't act like that... Teens do. And to teens, it makes sense. They can relate. But I can't. lol


    Edited to add: Does anyone else ever type out a big long thing (see above) then realize they didn't actually say anything? :dry: :sleepy:
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  25. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    OP here. I don't really want to push it into YA genre; to me it really doesn't NEED to be YA. I was really trying to understand how a book with a huge time span fits into one or another.
    I need her to be 37. It is pivotal to the story. I'd say the first 3/4 occur when she's a teen, and then the remainder is her as an adult. It has to be that big a span for a number of reasons, society's norms being the largest one.
     

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