Writing YA

I write in the genre normally referred to as YA or Young Adult and sometimes I think I’ve lost my mind. Having to think like a high school student is not the easiest thing in the world when you no longer are one. I don’t always know what the latest lingo or fad is, but the more I write YA the more I realize those things don’t necessarily matter.

Deep down high school problems aren’t that different from adult problems. As a teenager we worried about whether a girl/guy liked you, if were part of the “in” crowd or the best at whatever you excelled at whether it be a sport or class. That doesn’t change when we grow up in my opinion. We still struggle with those issues. Or if you didn’t care what people thought of you in high school that mentality seems to carry over into adulthood. If you were in the middle of all the drama in high school that’s probably where you’ll still be in the workplace.

Teenage problems aren’t that different and often teenagers are a lot more grown up than we give them credit for being. There were several agents who felt my writing tended to be more in the adult genre than young adult despite my teenage protagonist. That’s their opinion and they are entitled to it, but I’m entitled to disagree.  The more YA I read, the more I came to the conclusion that teenagers aren’t any different than adults.

They struggle with their emotions and often leave them on their sleeves, but I can count as many adults who do the same thing (myself could be included). Teenagers want the coolest cars, clothes and electronics. They want to know they are loved, and don’t always know the right way to get what they want. That’s nothing unusual from our own adult wants. I think the only defining characteristic between YA and Adult is as an adult we have some wisdom that comes with time. The problems don’t change, but sometimes our reaction to them do. As an adult we can come across familiar situations and we know from experience what not to do in a way a teenager may not.

So, after a lot of thought I don’t think I’m crazy after all. Writing YA isn’t much different other than my character may be facing a problem for the first time and I get to go back and think about what it was like to experience something as if it were new. First love, first kiss, first heartbreak.

It’s a challenge, but that’s what keeps me writing and hopefully keeps you reading.

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