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  1. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Young Adult

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BillyxRansom, Jul 12, 2009.

    Have there been novels of this "genre" where the main character was not necessarily a teenager? I want to try writing in a style that would be suitable for people of ALL ages, but not necessarily require a protagonist who is 13.
     
  2. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't know if it counts as Young Adult or whatever, but what comes to mind for me is the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Straud.

    It does have a young boy as the protagonist but the hero and main character is the ancient djinn Bartimaeus. That is to say, Bartimaeus is the guy it's all about, the one who has his name in the title and tells the story, gets into fights and is generally the center of attention. But the story he ends up telling is still the boy's story, because the boy is the one who does all the character development and stuff, and the one the plot tends to focus on.

    I don't know, does that help?
     
  3. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Well, according to Wiki, that's a fantasy. Maybe what I am wanting to write is still fantasy. I just kind of want it to be a little more light hearted, I suppose.

    That's the aim, anyway...
     
  4. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Since when can fantasy not be lighthearted? There's no rule that says it has to be all orc-slaughter, burning villages, gnashing teeth and the end of the world, you know. :p

    You shouldn't get too hung up on the labels. You seem to have something very specific in mind, so just write the story you want without trying to squeeze it into a neat little category. Either you figure it out along the way or you let the publishing people and the bookstores worry about it.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This thread is all about labels, though. I tend to agree with what you are saying, Anders, but it pays to know the markets your writing will fall neatly into to select publishers to submit to, or to write for what particular publishers are interested in.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    And genre is really the wrong word for Young Adult, anyway, in my opinion. A lot of people, including publishers, will use it, but I prefer to say demographic. That sounds a lot less limiting, because anything fits into it as long as it's relevant to teenagers. If you want to write fantasy, but don't want to be bogged down by age markets, check out the imprint Firebird Fantasy. It's an imprint of Penguin that means for its books to be shelved in all sections. And there are several other books not reprinted by them that are cross-shelved as well. Most of these books do have teenage MCs, but not all of them. The one I can think of at the moment is a Charles de Lint book about a werewolf.

    I feel the same way you do, I think, with the exception that I like writing about teenage girls. But I don't want my audience to be limitted to teenage girls. Keep this in mind. Open-minded adults and smart teenagers don't look at what age group a publisher says a book is for, and don't care if the main character is close to their age. They'll read it anyway. My mother once read a book before the movie adaptation was released and they wouldn't let her in because she was "too young." So you might as well learn the language of the market, figure out how publisher want to market it, and let them shelve it where they want to shelve it.
     
  7. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just because it's not YA doesn't mean teens won't read it. If it's a great story, teens & adults will read it.

    But back to your first question. I can't think of any YA book without a teen protagonist (other than the classics they sometimes have in the YA section of a library/bookstore).
     
  8. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Well I'm trying to write something that isn't going to be too intensely involved or detailed. Something teens will be more likely to respond to.


    Mostly, I have a hell of a time writing very detailed things. :p:rolleyes:
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just cuz it's very involved and detailed doesn't mean teenagers are less likely to respond to it. What makes teenagers respond is by writing something that will be meaningful to them, and that is much broader than many realize. If you don't want it to be detailed and involved, do it because that's what you want to write, not because of assumptions about the teenage attention span.
     
  10. Ferb
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    Ferb Member

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    I think you have to clarify what you mean by "teens." A 13-year-old is a teen, but then so is a 16-year-old (and technically, so is a 19-year-old). Regardless of their attention span, they have different interests and they're not going to respond to your novel the same way - so you need to be more specific about your target audience.

    That said, it's possible for teenagers to like a book whose main character isn't the same age as they. If you're writing for younger teenagers you might want to stay away from "adult" content, though.
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you miss the point, Ferb. Billy wants to write a book that won't get bogged down by such limiting age ranges. And you certainly don't need to stay away from "adult" content. I've read plenty of books in the teen section that would get an R rating as a movie.
     
  12. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I think making your MC the same age as your intended audience is a rut many authors fall into.

    Reality is, that YA's can and should have characters, even main characters, that are completely different then the reader.
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see what you're getting at, Dcoin. The question becomes, though, how do you make it relevant to a teenager's experience and point of view when your main character us 53? Books don't have to be relevant in that way for teenagers to enjoy reading them, but how can you publish and market it that way unless the book is specifically relevant to teenagers?
     
  14. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Good follow-up Rei.

    I think the best example I can give is from a movie I just saw. The MC in 'UP' (Disney films) is well past the intended age range, yet the context of the story makes him a perfect MC.

    You use a great word, relevant. As long as there is a connection to your reader, the MC, setting, conflict can be anything. Even if its totally foreign.
     
  15. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    That wasn't a movie for teenagers. The story is not specifically relevant to teenagers. It transcends age-based labels like Young Adult. That is the kind of book that Billy is hoping to write.

    Young Adult is defined by its relevance specifically to teenagers. That movie was not specifically relevant to teenagers. The story speaks to the HUMAN spirit, not the teenage experience. Like I said, just because teenagers may enjoy it, doesn't mean it fits the label of YA. A better example of what you're talking about would be The Thief Lord, which is told from the point of view of several characters, adults and children.

    The example I mentioned before about a werewolf, though they don't give his age, still speaks to certain kinds of teenage experiences. Although it can be done without it in some cases, for something to be relevant to a group in the way I am talking about, you really do need characters who belong to that group.
     
  16. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Rie, You make very valid points.

    I for one am going to try and break the trend when it comes to this point. As an exclusive writer of YA material, maybe this very point will set my work apart?

    <smiles> time tells all.
     
  17. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, I'm getting a bit confused. Are people talking about YA as a genre or just about writing for teens. As a genre, the books must have relevancy to teens, which is always done through a teen protagonist. As for general writing that teens will enjoy, DO NOT "WRITE FOR TEENS". We don't need to be talked down to. Write a great story, with complex plots and big words, even :p . If you write it, we will buy/borrow it--if it's any good. Teens read general fantasy novels, general fiction, thrillers, mysteries, sci-fi, military sci-fi, etc. etc., that are not placed in the YA section of a bookstore.
     
  18. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yup. From the age of about 11, I don't think I read a single book that was "Young Adult" genre. I was reading full-blown adult-level novels by that stage.
     

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