August 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm #2950
Hello Ladies! I was hoping for your thoughts on writing YA for an audience of 17-21 year olds.
This has actually been a big internal struggle for me, because my main character is 17-18ish and a freshman in college. I’ve flip-flopped back and forth between writing it as YA vs. adult fiction.
I’ve noticed that some other writers on Ladies Who Critique have mentioned that they are writing for older teens. So I guess I’m wondering, what do you guys think about that? Opinions one way or another, personal experiences in the publishing world, etc would be really helpful and might help someone else who may be struggling with this too! =)August 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm #4076
YA, definitely. Teens like to read up, and few adults like to read down.
I’ve read lots of books with older teens. And I think by the end of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna is 20 (she was 11 at the start).
So your 17/18-year-old fits in just fine 🙂August 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm #4077
This is an issue for me as well. The MC for my UF is exactly 21.
I don’t know if any of you have heard of the new term that’s been sticking out its head lately. New Adult. That’s basically your out of school teens and isn’t quite adult and not quite young adult. So where do you place it?
So on one blog post and one #askagent on twitter I asked two different agents their thoughts on New Adult. Neither of them takes it seriously. The one said that as soon as they start shelving books as New Adult in bookstores, that’s when they’ll start taking it seriously.
My issue with age when it comes to adult and young adult is the difference in word counts and we all know that word count matters.August 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm #4078
@ Jenn I totally agree with you, that teens like to read up. When I was in middle school I wanted to read about high school characters. When I was in high school I wanted to read about college. I felt like, I’m in high school and I know what its like to be in high school. I want to know what college is going to be like, etc.
Its good to know that there are some books out there that feature older teens. I think I’ve only read one, and the MC was turns 18 in the first book of the series.
@ Jani I haven’t heard the term New Adult. It makes sense to me that there would be books in that category though (sounds like at one time as a reader I might have fit in that category!).
And it doesn’t surprise me that agents don’t take New Adult seriously.
Are you concerned about getting an agent/getting published in YA because of the age of your MC? Part of me says that I shouldn’t worry about it bc I really just need to get the novel WRITTEN. But the other part of me points out that if I write the novel for adults VS. YA it will go down a very different path and will almost be a completely different story.August 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm #4079
@downeynl My novel is done, it’s a 97k UF so I don’t mind much. I just found it strange that the term New Adult seem to surface. One agent said that she wouldn’t mind receiving New Adult queries, others say no. I think at the moment it’s a touchy subject and where the confusion comes in is with the age group the novel will land.
This is actually a really interesting topic.August 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm #4080
I have an 18 yr old protagonist in one of my books and I feel a bit stupid for letting her get so old. 🙂 I should have stuck to 16 or 17 as was my original plan.August 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm #4081
I think it’s hard to sell these type of stories as they want YA to be younger and they want Adult to be older. The manuscript I’m querying now had the character as 19. I just recently made him 18 based on some advice…but I’m not sure it would make sense to go any lower. I’m just hoping that 18 will work okay.
In general, I think YA is 15 to 18 for a lot of agents…or depending on how mature your character/story is.August 22, 2011 at 10:21 am #4082
Fascinating stuff, really.
If you read the fiction in SEVENTEEN magazine (which is pretty much read mostly by 12-15-year-olds, and rarely by girls over seventeen) you’ll find most of it is about 18-21-year-olds. Adults are very willing to read about younger ages (as the Harry Potter phenomenon attests to, since it appeals to adults as much as to children), but teens, well, not so much. Teens are trying so hard to be older, to grow up, to find their own place in the world, one that is not dictated by their parents. And a lot of YA literature is quite edgy when dealing with some pretty harsh topics.
If word count is the only concern, I would just make certain the length fits the story. It’s the story that counts most, that it is told in the best possible way.August 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm #4083
My MC is 18. My thoughts when I wrote the book were that it would be YA. I’ve had people read it and say it’s adult. I think my book could really be shelved both places…August 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm #4084
I read a lot of YA and the trend seems to be toward older teen protagonists, at least 16 or older with a few being in their twenties. What I’ve noticed more and more is that the age range seems to be getting narrower and narrower. When I was a teen (which wasn’t that long ago) there seemed to be a broader age range (anywhere from 14 to 19 or so). But now I’m seeing more books with MCs between 16 and 18 but rarely outside that range. And younger and younger readers are reading these books (I know ten year olds who are reading hunger games, twilight, etc.). This all stuff that I’ve noticed lately.
On a side note, my MC of my current WIP is 17. Most of my other stories also have MCs between 16 and 18 generally, with most being either 16 or 17.August 23, 2011 at 3:53 pm #4085
Thanks for all of the comments guys! You’ve given me a lot to mull over!
I think I have to agree with @shakespeare “It’s the story that counts most, that it is told in the best possible way”. That’s really what I’m trying to focus on.
I also agree with @nefaerious. I feel like my story could be written for YA or Adult. But I always thought it was the voice that distinguished the two, not necessarily the word count. I feel like there is a very different voice for teens than for adults.August 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm #4086
I just go a reply from an agent about my full…I figured I’d share here, because she commented that my story seemed to be more adult than YA. As I said above, the MC was 19. I changed it after sending her the full to 18…but I think she just mainly objected to the idea of them NOT being in high school, even though it wasn’t a college story or anything.August 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm #4087
Thanks for sharing! Her main objection was that your MC wasn’t in high school?
I keep trying to think of ways to tweak my story so that its not set in college… the only way I can think of is to have my MC home schooled (still not really the high school feel).
Have you thought about querying your novel as adult?August 30, 2011 at 8:03 pm #4088
@downeynl: You’re welcome and yeah, it seemed like that was a big one. I think a bit more could be added as well, which goes with the idea of an adult novel (longer WC and whatnot). So yeah, I’ve been thinking of tweaking it more, add more to the beginning and throughout and hopefully it’ll be suitable length for Adult. I figure it doesn’t hurt to try and query it that way, but I think I have to add more first. It’s way too short as it is, unless YA.
I think you can do home schooling and make it a high school feel. The agent I queried didn’t seem to mind the not in a traditional high school thing, but rather that the characters seemed past the coming of age part of life. I really didn’t agree, but what can you do? I guess it’s just a different part of growing up and too adult for YA.August 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm #4089
Thanks all for posting – your comments are so helpful.
@shootingstarsmag – my MC just graduated from high school. The story is set before she starts college.. I’ve been mulling over making her year younger bc of what you described.
On the other hand, New Adult is definitely an emerging genre but like all new genres, it’s going to take a few best sellers before it’s established. Maybe that’ll be us! 🙂
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