Monday, April 25, 2011

Ah Yes, the Old MG vs. YA Debate

Tip of the Day: It's my semi-annual reminder to back up your files to thumb drives. Think of it as writer's Spring cleaning.

What is a middle grade voice? What is a young adult voice?

Some people would advise writers to stick to the voice they are best at. Others would say it's better to write both--then you can have two books in the market at the same time that don't compete with each other.

Is it possible to be equally adept at both voices?

I find that my young adult characters are smarter and I get to use bigger words, which is fun. Also, they're less inclined to react to situations with sarcasm and frustration. As the mother of a 12-year-old, it seems like 12-year-olds react to EVERYTHING with "This stinks! It's so not fair!" My older teenage characters already know that life isn't fair. They worry more about if they are being fair to others rather than if others are being fair to them.

But I think it is possible to learn to write both points of view well. In fact, as I drag into X number of years of writing, I'm less convinced that we have a natural "writing age." We've all been 17 and we've all been 12, and we can all tap into those feelings.

Although I'm not finding field research to be very helpful. My older teen nieces and nephews don't want to reveal their private lives, and being around groups of 12-year-olds gives me migraines. (God bless those middle school teachers. I don't know how they stay sane.)

Do you think you have a natural "writing age"? How often do you try to write for another age group, including adults? Could you develop your writing for any aged audience, or do you think it's true that most writers have a specific voice?

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


Andrea Mack said...

Interesting, Kate. I'd like to think that if you're a good writer, you could write for any age group. But there might be some that you'd have to work harder at.

bfav said...

I agree with Andrea about being able to write for any age. Although I think writers that dedicate themselves to one genre really master their voice, ie, Spinelli, Dahl, Cleary, and Blume.

Kate Fall said...

I think that's really it, that time is finite. We could probably do well at any voice, given an unlimited amount of time, but who has that?

Christina Farley said...

I suppose a lot of it depends on my mood. But that said, I'm really enjoying YA right now. I started off writing MG and that was pretty natural for me since I was teaching middle school age students at the time. But I havne't been hanging around that age in a while.