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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writing Young Adult - with Light Paranormal Elements

Generally, you know you’re writing a light paranormal young adult (YA) novel when:

** your hero or heroine has abilities and/or characteristics
not explained by science (fairies, ghosts, nymphs, etc.)
** Your target market is young adults between twelve and twenty.
** Your hero/ine fall within the above age group.

I say generally, because the YA genre is a microcosm of the entire fiction market and defies neat and tidy categorization. The Young Adult Library Services defines a young adult as "someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen,” but there are no definitive rule or age limits. Most YA authors secretly yearn for a crossover market where the book is purchased by teens and adults.

To confuse you further, let’s talk about the difference between light and dark paranormal.
Again, no absolutes but in simplest terms, think of dark as the bloody creatures—vamps and shifters. In adult markets, dark paranormal is often sexier, but that doesn’t normally apply to YA. Light paranormal is typically futuristic or fantasy. Again, the lines aren’t clear; worldbuilding in most urban fantasy and dystopia novels are typically dark and brooding. My definition of light paranormal: if you made the book into a movie, the scenery would have sunshine. Every day wouldn’t be overcast or foggy.

What’s your definition?

9 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Robin,

I'm not confused at all, but I am very enlightened. Great post with good information. There was a time in my life when I read 'dark' novels (psychological thrillers, dark, twisted stories) but after working in child protective services I got enough 'dark' during my day.

I do think my definition of 'young adults' is more 12 - 25. Studies show that 'young adults' remain living at home until their mid-twenties. So, my definition of an adult would include being able to live independently.

Judith Ashley said...

It's still me. I also think that it depends on how each individual is 'made up'. My son could watch horror movies when he was young, laugh at some of the goriest parts (he never got caught up in the story so much that he stopped seeing the 'theater' of it - how the monster was made, the special effects, etc.).

People like him can watch gorier, darker movies and read the same books for entertainment. If I did that, I'd literally have nightmares until I could shake it off.

Thanks, Robin, for an interesting, thought-provoking post.

Terri Molina said...

Interesting definition...but definitely makes it more clear for those scratching their heads. ;-)

Sarah Raplee said...

"If you made the book into a movie, the scenery would have sunshine." Love this!

As for the age group, I think that's a fuzzy area at the boundary. A few editors of adult books will accept heroines as young as eighteen. And how many of us read 'adult' books as well as YA books before we were in our twenties?

I agree that YA is more of a marketing category than a true genre, although there are a few very broad expectations for these stories, such as the age of the protagonist.

Thanks for a great post!

Paty Jager said...

Good information. I always wondered how they defined this genre.

Sarah Raplee said...

Oops! I liked your definition so much that I forgot to come up with my own definition light paranormal stories. Hmmm...

In light paranormal, the Heroic characters are not violent due to their natures, but rather due to their jobs or circumstances - if at all.

Robin Weaver said...

Thanks for all the great comments!

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post! I like the explaination of light paranormal in a movie would have 'sunshine'. When I read that I thought "Sunshine, mushrooms with elfs or faries sitting on them, glossomer wings, sparkling water on a pond....." etc.
Anyway, great post!

Tamera Lynn said...

I like your distinction between light and dark paranormal. I never really knew what the difference might be before. And I love YA!