1. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    What is the range for characters in young adult novels?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MilesTro, Nov 11, 2017.

    My main character is 21, and my first novel is meant to be aimed at young adults. I read articles that said the age range should be 16-18 years old. But some said 21 is fine. Does it matter as long as the main character is a young adult? And if you are a teen, would you still care? For me, I wouldn't as long as the story is good.
     
  2. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    The YA audience is actually quite wide, stretching from the start of the teenage years to the late ones, and sometimes even into the early twenties. Plus, I believe that the YA audience generally like to read about characters who are a few years older than them, but take that with a pinch of salt. So, I think 21 is perfectly fine, as long as you're aiming towards the top end of the YA audience -- I'd say no younger than 16-year-olds. But I'm no expert.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think 18 is the traditional top-off. Or the end of high school.

    That's one of the reasons a lot of writers were excited back when it seemed like NA might actually be a thing beyond erotic romance - if we could keep the freedom of YA but have slightly older characters, it'd be excellent. But that didn't happen, so now there's a bit of a gap. Books with protagonists in that age category aren't usually allowed in the YA playground, so unless they have another identifiable genre they're really hard to market.
     
  4. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Wow, I didn't know that. Ignore my advice, then. ;)
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Your advice is based on common sense... unfortunately, there's not too much of that involved in the YA rules!
     
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  6. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    For a bit Young Adult was pretty much up to the end of high school. Basically of the ages where a person would be under the care of a guardian. For anyone older than that, they were putting them into a genre called New Adult, where the protagonists were basically college age, technically adults but still in the buffer years before true adulthood starts. I haven't heard much about New Adult lately, though. I guess it's marketing campaign expired or something..

    ETA: Sorry @BayView , I somehow completely missed your earlier post.
     
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  7. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    My female character is also a news reporter, but I don't know how old a reporter must be. I don't think an eighteen-year-old could get that job unless she is a prodigy who passed high school and college quickly.
     
  8. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    My husband works for a news station (he's a director). Your MC would have to be a college graduate to become a reporter, ideally with a degree specifically in journalism. Based on that you'd be looking at a character more like 23-24 years old if she's just starting out in her career.
     
  9. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    Thanks. That could still be in a young adult age range I suppose.
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I really don't think it can be. What's the source you found saying YA can go up to 21?
     
  11. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11815703
     
  12. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    That...doesn't have anything to do with the categories that publishers use to market books.
     
  13. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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  14. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    It said the age range can be up to 18 to 35.
     
  15. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Sorry, I can't tell if you're serious... in case you are...

    Obviously there's no connection between the definition of "young adult" used in an article on problem gambling and the definition of "young adult" used in marketing fiction.

    (On the side that suggests you're kidding, I noticed that the article was published in the periodical Gerontologist... so probably anyone under 50 would count as "young" by their standards, right? :D)
     
  16. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    I am serious. I just thought it is another perspective on the necessity age range. If my main character has to be an eighteen-year-old, the entire beginning will need to be rewritten.
     
  17. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Well, it doesn't have to be rewritten, flat out. But if you're trying to fit into the YA marketing category I think it needs to be looked at.

    Are you thinking of getting a publisher, or self-publishing? If you're going to self-pub, there's no one to stop you from calling it YA if you want... it just might not get a great reception from readers.
     
  18. Amber13

    Amber13 Member

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    Any YA I've read - and I've read lots of it! - generally has characters that start out younger, anywhere from 14-17. Some of the series I've read will follow the character into the "New Adult" category, meaning we followed the character into their early 20s, but that's been about the oldest the protagonist gets. In some, like Tamora Pierce's Tortall books, we'll still see the character in the stories of others, and keep up with them that way, but once they're about 25, they're no longer the featured protagonist.

    Like others have mentioned, YA doesn't exactly stick to a strict set of rules; I think it might just be difficult to sell a book as YA with a protagonist starting out the story in their 20s. How do you argue that it's YA if the protagonist isn't exactly a youth, but an adult?
     
  19. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    I might have it self-published online. I also think characters in their twenties can be considered young adult. Teen Fiction would make sense when aimed at 14-17. But I want my book aimed at young adults because science fiction and fantasy is easy to sell to them.
     
  20. Fantasy/Action

    Fantasy/Action New Member

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    If you talk to actual librarians, young adult is 16 years old to mid 20's. If someone who they think shouldn't be readying a young adult book tries to the librarians will contact their gaurdian to make sure that is ok. From age 16+ they consider you to be a young adult and old enough to make your own decisions.
    Here is the problem with humans as a general, we are asked for our opinion. We give it, and when it seems that is is only being eyed instead of being accepted we get offended and try to first cram the idea down the POI's throat and if that doesn't work, we can use our feet, right? I am not counted out of this general group as I do this on a daily basis, but it is a large fault of ours. A "general" grouping is exactly that, "general". By society's standards a young adult is a person that is a mid-teenager to mid-20's.
    When you hit 30's you are fully accepted by all as a full adult. Until that age everyone from your grandparents to safety officers all will call you "kid", "son", "little lady", etc.
    The reason "new adult" did not catch on is because "young adult" is exactly the same thing. They would be considered synonym groupings.

    This is also my 2 cents, take it or leave it.
    I am just thrilled to have found a forum where I can talk and meet with fellow writters.
     
  21. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Or maybe you just need to find a new genre to slot it into. Does it have to be YA? I would focus on telling your story how you feel it should be told right now rather than ramming it into a certain category before it's had chance to blossom.
     
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  22. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'm a librarian by training (worked in a school for about five years) and I write and publish YA novels. I'm not trying to cram my ideas down anyone's throat, but I think it's important that people who are writing for a genre know the requirements of a genre.

    I'm not too worried about the OP - he's clearly made up his mind about this. But these threads stay around for a while and other people read them, so I don't think it's a good idea to let misinformation stand.

    I work with an agent at a quality NY agency. When I wrote a book with a 19-year-old character, she made it clear the book would be much easier to sell if the MC was 18 and still in high school - then the book could be marketed as YA. (Obvious corollary to that: a book with the character out of high school couldn't be marketed as YA). This experience is shared by colleagues who also write and publish YA. The protagonists should be high school age.

    Bear in mind that people of all ages read YA. We're not talking about the target market. We're also not talking about what the term means in a general sense, as in problem gamblers or whether safety officers call you "little lady". It's a term used in the publishing industry to mean a specific thing.
     
  23. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd agree with that ... write the book first then work out which genre it fits in (obviously that doesn't apply if you are already published and writing a YA series or something... but in that case you probably wouldn't be asking)
     
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  24. MilesTro

    MilesTro Senior Member

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    I will definitely consider that.
     
  25. WhiteKnight75

    WhiteKnight75 Member

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    As a YA reader I couldn't care less. Not sure what publishers will think of it though...
     

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