Remember when I talked about all those lessons that I learned from my experience with Oracles Promise? Well, one of the biggest that I’m learning is that perhaps I shouldn’t be writing YA.

My trends in MCs:

Short story #1: 21
Novel #1: Mid-20s
Oracles Promise: 10
Lodestar: 26
WiP short stories: 20s
Short story #2: 20s
Short story #3: Old.  Like 50s, maybe.  But she was recounting events from her 20s.

Noticing anything?  Also, in Oracles Promise, some of my favorite characters were the adults.  When their role was cut drastically in the doomed first round of revisions, I felt a good chunk of my interest in the story go away entirely.

And that wasn’t good.

So, I figure I should pay attention to this sort of trend.  But maybe I shouldn’t.  “Write what you know” should only extend so far.  I mean, plenty of adults write YA and MG, right?

I am continuing our discussion of genre today with a little discussion on the age ranges between MG/YA/Adult.  In part this is to facilitate the genre discussion and allow me to move from genre to genre with clarity and cohesiveness.  (As opposed to jumping from genre to genre to accommodate age ranges.)

Middle Grade:

Characteristics:

  • Ages 8-12 (both MC and reader)
  • between 80-200 pages
  • Clear plot with a conflict-driven story
  • Quick pacing
  • MC solves the problem, no adult interference
  • Inward focused
  • MCs learning their place in the world, “learning how they operate in their own world”
  • Changes are on the inside

Themes:

Anything from friends to school to family relationships and beyond

Young Adult:

A definition:

“An age group including persons from about 12 years to about 18 years old: used as a reader category in libraries, book publishing, etc.”

Characteristics:

  • adolescent protagonist
  • subject matter and plot consistent with age and experience of the MC
  • The rest is a wide open field
  • More complex plots than in middle grade
  • internal change for the MC that is triggered by external events
  • MCs begin to see how they influence the world and how the world influences them

Themes:

  • Challenges of youth (creating a sub-genre of so-called “coming of age” stories)

From QueryTracker:

“Readers can handle complex sentence structures, advanced vocabularies, and multiple points of view.  Plus, with some books being in excess of 100,000 words (ahem, Twilight) authors have more room to write and explore sub-plots and multiple points of view.”

Then there’s this gem from Nathan Bransford:

“To me the separation between YA and Adult is not necessarily thematic, it has more to do with pacing and presentation.  When you read a YA novel the pace tends to be quicker, the books tend to be shorter, and things happen in a more straightforward fashion…In an adult novel, even an adult novel about high schoolers, things unfold more slowly, there tends to be more subtlety and ambiguity.”

So, my biggest problem, I think, is that I find adult conflicts more interesting.  There’s a lot of past when you’re an adult.  That’s a lot of stuff to explore, to let influence actions and thought processes, to incorporate into a plot or sub-plot.  I really didn’t like my childhood.  Well, that’s not true.  There were good parts and bad parts.  And I choose not to relive any of it.  Which makes it hard for me to write MG or YA.

Adult books are more ubiquitous.  There’s so much to explore with it.  And some adults are still reading YA.  (Okay, a lot of adults are.)  That’s evidenced by St. Martin’s new imprint that they recently launched.  (And, really, by the majority of my friends out here in the blogosphere.)

Remember this post from here ages and ages ago?  (It’s ok, I didn’t either.)

That’s it for our age range discussion.

Linky, copyrighty stuff:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young-adult_fiction
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/08/from-picture-books-to-ya-information-to.html
http://www.write4kids.com/feature6.html
http://www.yourdictionary.com/young-adult