|Me and my target Audience|
I polled members of some of my online writer’s groups, the YA RWA chapter, SCBWI, and Teenlitauthors. Big shout outs and thanks to everyone who replied and shared their feelings on YA, you guys rock. Here’s what you all told me:
YA is all about VOICE
- Just having a teen protagonist isn’t enough. Characters can’t suffer from "short adult syndrome."
- "YA voice" means characters act and sound like real teenagers, instead of like adults *trying* to sound like a teenager. It means that the author understands how teens think and experience things and isn’t looking back with the I-now-know-better attitude.
- It’s about making the stupid mistakes and letting whatever happens, happen. It’s not about sending a cautionary message to teens.
It’s OK to be edgyYA deals with some pretty heavy topics, but it does so in ways that real teenagers would. Sometimes those topics are ugly. My stories take place in urban settings with a multi-cultural cast that faces issues including pressure for sex, family violence, bullies, illness, alcohol and drugs. Life experience at 16 isn't the same as 36. Teens and adults don't face the problems the same way, not even a life crisis such as an unexpected pregnancy or the death of a friend or family member.
Teens often handle even the most traumatic events in amazingly mature ways—sometimes even better than adults. But they do view/feel/react differently. If your workd speaks to someone going through trauma, that's an added benefit to writing for Young Adults.
Why I write for Young AdultsPULL is a contemporary novel, with a hint of turbulent issues and complex conflicts. Writing it gave me an excuse to feel young again, even though High School wasn't all fun and games. My stories take place in urban settings with a multi-cultural cast that faces issues including pressure for sex, family violence, bullies, illness, alcohol and drugs. My teens love their families, care about friends, and want to discover their real place in the adult world they are about to enter.
Are you ready for YA?Young adults are some of the most demanding and discerning people on the planet. They quickly notice if things sound or feel false or if an author writes down to them. I tell my audience, "Open my book, I promise it's worth your time." If I'm lying, kids will drop me in a hot minute. But if I'm real they'll put me on their list of favorites and tell their friends; maybe even their enemies.
Write as if you were a teen instead of writing down to teens. Read as if these are the most important years of your life, because to teens they are. Revisit those strangely powerful and turbulent years when everything was possible and you could fight city hall. Remember the thrill of First Love.
Tell me what you thinkLeave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Let's discuss, is YA a genre, a category or does it even matter as long as theirs a good story about realistic teens?
Remember, all comments count as entries into the Romancing The Genre's monthly prize package.
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