Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Why YA

Tip of the Day: If your own Revision Girl or Boy needs a boost, evidently talking about her or him on a blog does the trick! So thanks everyone for your revision tips last week.

Now as an aspiring writer, I’m sure we don’t field nearly as many questions as published writers, which is why when making a FAQ page of a Web site you might have to revert to your fiction skills and make many of the questions up yourself.

But there is one question I get with some frequency: “What do you write?”

Apparently, answering “Young Adult” or “Teen fiction” doesn’t mean anything to 90% of the people out there that aren’t writers or avid readers of teen fiction. Who would have thought?

So in follow up, I either get “What’s that?” or “Why Young Adult?”

In answer to “What’s that?” I’ve found the easiest way to respond is by saying, kind of like Harry Potter, since everyone’s heard of Harry Potter. And despite the fact I don’t write fantasy that usually does the trick.

In response to the “Why Young Adult?” question, that’s a little trickier. Merely because there’s tons of reason why I write young adult books.

Sure it’s because I loved my teen years and like to relive them. I love anything teen related (Bring it On, She’s the Man, 10 Thing I Hate About You, Veronica Mars, anyone?). My writing voice seems to fit YA. It’s one of the main genres I read and love. I love working with teens in my day job, so it would be natural I would gravitate towards teen books. Yadda yadda yadda.

But I think more than anything it’s the fact that with YA books, you get more freedom to be creative than with adult books. Not saying adult books aren’t creative. But I don’t think books about Magical Pants, a normal girl that finds out she’s a princess, and books about a secret spy school would sell in the adult world. Sure adults read them (like me and you), but still even if they had adult protagonists and you take out all the defining teen factors, the underlying teen themes (basically the entire book itself), I still don’t think they could ever be marketed for adults. Merely because with teens you can stretch things to include magical pants and it’s okay and fun. And I personally really don’t want to be in a genre that can't handle spy schools, princesses, and magical pants. Plus, with teen books there seems to be more openness to creative formats, like diaries, IM messages, blogs and the like. And I love reading creative formats and experimenting with putting some aspects in some of my novels.

What about you, why do you write YA? Or read YA? And if you don’t write or read YA, then why do you write or read the genre you do?

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

7 comments:

Kim said...

Oh, I love this part:

Merely because with teens you can stretch things to include magical pants and it’s okay and fun. And I personally really don’t want to be in a genre that can't handle spy schools, princesses, and magical pants.

SO TRUE!!!

Emily Marshall said...

Thanks Kim,

Glad to know I'm not the only one that feels that way :)

Ghost Girl said...

I like the questions you can ask. The problems you can pose. 100% NOT because I loved my own teen years--ew! I taught high school for years because I love the way the YA brain works and how open they are. I think you are half right about being able to right about magical pants, etc. Adults have too much "adult" baggage to truly suspend a certain kind of disbelief. They often have a hard time escaping all the practical issues like, cost, family repercussions, who's gonna pay for that?, who cares what that guy thinks about your hair?... You're right, Em, about the enormous freedom you have in developing the YA. Their questions and problems are very different than the average adult reader's.

Rock on sisters!

DeenaML said...

I love the "firsts" that YAs encounter. First kisses, first breakups, first bad perms. It's easier for me to show emotional growth in teens than in adults.

And adult mss are longer! Man, I'd have to learn even harder which pieces of my rambling paragraphs to cut! :)

Emily Marshall said...

Yep, Ghost Girl, I like being free of all the excess baggage, too. Good way of putting it! And I think you are right, the YA brain is exciting. Probably for the reason, Deena, said that there are so many "firsts" going on. It seems with teens, they are much more excited and interested in the little things of life.

And good point, Deena! Yep, I'd have to learn that, too.

Misque Writer said...

In a lot of other genres, readers are older and so they're tired of "coming of age" stories and young protags. I happen to like coming of age stories and young protaganists.

Emily Marshall said...

Me too, Misque Writer!