Monday, February 8, 2010

Young Adult Does Not Mean Immature

So, apparently now every writer out there thinks they can write YA. Hey, Stephenie Meyer did it so I can follow that trend. With that said, I am not going to launch into my normal rant about following trends but to talk about the concept of YA.

Young Adult writing does not mean it is immature writing. In other words, there are a lot of writers that seem to believe that all they have to do is eliminate subplots, add some dialogue they believe is correct for this age group and they have a story. This is far from the truth.

Although the literacy rates are going down (probably due to all of the standardized testing) youth are reading deeper and deeper stories. It isn't just about witty dialogue and "dating issues" but these books really find what is important to the youth go after the subjects head on.

Sure, there are rules we need to follow for the publishers. You know - keep it clean and all that, but please, focus on something substantial and really treat the youth like they want to be treated.

I spent over 15 years working with the secondary level students and the issues they deal with on a daily basis are much more intelligent and deep than simply worrying about who they will go to prom with. Yes, I know Disney deals with this, but they also have a younger market. Heck, my nearly 5 year old has already told me she is going to marry Nick Jonas.

If you want to write for the YA market, there are a few things you need to consider before you even think about submitting to anyone:

1. Make sure you really understand the voice. If you don't actively hang out with this group, the odds are you probably don't get it. And by the way, if you have a kid that is in that age group, it isn't enough. They don't share all the things that you would need to know about.

2. Make it age appropriate. This means knowing your audience. Middle school kids focus on far different topics than do high school age students, or for that matter, seniors in high school.

3. Find a plot that is really worth something. The YA market is not into cute, they want substantial. Heck, the rest of the markets want something substantial. Don't sell us short.

YA is a fun market, but all of the submissions I have received lately wouldn't even cut it with my 5 and 8 year old, let alone my 10 year old.



  1. I love this. I agree. YA love to read, but it has to connect with them--not talk down to them.

  2. I'm 16 but I gave up on YA years ago because it's just stupid and started to read novels targeted to adults. Yes, there a lot of teens who buy into this immature, Twilight-esque, Disney-like crap, but these are the teens who haven't read a book cover to cover since they left elementary school. They don't know how crappy it is. Thank you so much for posting this. More people in your line of work need to realize what you're saying.