The young adult fiction market in the Milky Way Galaxy is booming today. From the Twilight series and movies to the Hunger Games novels and movies, and too many others to mention them all here, we’re surrounded by teens and other creatures of the night. So on the chance that you might be thinking of entering the world of ya literature, let’s take a look at what young adult novels are.
First, who is the young adult audience? All readers are different, so stating that a book is written for a certain age is only a guideline for parents and teachers. Children/teens vary in what they prefer to read and can understand at different ages. That said, young adult books are generally recommended for readers ages 12 to 18. There are books, however, for the younger end of the scale, children from 10 to 12, AKA as middle grade or tween fiction. Since children tend to skip over a scene they don’t understand and take from a story what’s important in their lives, younger readers may pass right over that stalking scene or the kissie, kissie romance and absorb the scenes they relate to. On the other hand, many readers will recognize when a character is being bullied or abused and perhaps be able to apply the story to themselves or someone they know. Each child will take whatever he/she is curious about or living with and apply it to their own life.
Second, what subjects and themes appeal to young adults? If you look through the titles of current novels and go back to even older books, you’ll find most every topic is covered: themes of identity, depression, suicide, drug abuse, family, bullying, etc. Teens want to read about friendship, love, family, divorce and just about anything that relates to their world. Even fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian novels contain these elements though they may take place in the future, past, or in another universe. Whether the friends are vampires or werewolves or other-worldly creatures, there is romance, friendship, enemies, and other elements that a teen may be struggling with and that will open a door for a solution to his/her problems.
Today, there seem to be few, if any, taboos in young adult literature. Young adult books deal with most everything, from suicide to abuse to violence to sex and language. I think the main thing is to be honest, to let the character tell the story in his own words, with his emotions and what he knows or hopes to learn.
Third, a big issue in teen literature is finding books that teen boys will read. So many of the popular young adult novels are written more for girls (and women who still feel like teens). You’ve heard it said that girls will read books with boys as the main character, but the reverse is seldom true. So think about boys for a minute. The ones in your family or those you know. I raised three sons and they still confuse me. Generally, boys don’t like the mushy stuff, even though they might enjoy kissing a girl, they’d feel weird reading about it. Most boys are action. They’re constantly on the move, doing something. So they need adventure and challenges. Even gross stuff appeals to them. There are many great “boy” books out there. Think of James Patterson, Rick Riordan, and Paolo Bacigalupi to name a few. There’s also Darby Karchut, a new author whose Griffin series about a guardian angel in training is sure to convince young males that reading is fun.
I planned to compare the sales of young adult literature with other books, but was totally lost when I started reading the statistics. So rather than go through percentages, numbers, and such, here are some sites for you to check if you’re interested in learning more:
Short link to the above: http://tinyurl.com/6vtxlob
Writing for teens is a challenge. Writing for teens is fun. So why not take a chance and see what you come up with. You never know.
Thank you for your insight on writing for the YA market. If you would like to learn more about Beverly's writing, here is the link to her website and her blog.