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May 2012

Writing young adult novels—the basics 150 150 srvvsa

Writing young adult novels—the basics

Writing young adult novelsis not as easy as you might think. It’s not just about writing something hip or trendy, nor is it as simple as writing from an adolescent perspective or having a teenage protagonist. While a major part of the audience is in the standard young adult demographic (12-17), people from all ages read young adult novels. If you’re not a teenager yourself, it takes a level of sophistication to write in a tone that does not talk down to readers, yet approaches storytelling with the straightforward language and lack of gratuity that characterizes so many books for young adults.Whether you’re writing a series of dystopian novels, paranormal romance books or young adult fantasy novels, when geared to the YA audience, it’s fundamental for the story and tone to convey the essence of adolescence and coming-of-age, and address themes that are relatable to teens and their experience. The reason why young adult novels work among readers of all ages is that everyone can relate to those issues—we faced the same ones as teenagers and can most likely still remember the experience, or are even facing similar ones now. For those in the age range of the audience originally deemed as YA, it’s just that it may be the first time both they and the characters in the story face certain situations.

While books for young adults often focus on sex and drugs, it’s not always about the obvious—it’s about discovering who you are and where you fit in. Almost every YA book, even young adult fantasy novels that might take place in an otherworldly, imaginary setting, will take you on an adventure where the protagonist shares their triumphs, obstacles and mistakes as they discover who they are and where they belong.

Adolescence is a time of fun, confusion, raging hormones and volatile emotions. It’s when you dream of falling in the kind of love you read about in paranormal romance books. We learn about humanity, suffering and the good in life during our teens. This may explain why the young adult audience is leaning towards dystopian novels right now—while on a larger, more global scope with darker and sometime horrifying plots and settings, they address those themes and we all can relate on some level.

Regardless of the genre, YA fiction continues to inspire the reader’s journey to find out who they are. Perhaps the reason that young adult novels appeal to all ages is because we are all still discovering ourselves.

Why young adult fiction books make the grade 150 150 srvvsa

Why young adult fiction books make the grade

The widespread popularity of young adult fiction books is an anomaly to many—it’s hard for people to understand why adults want to read books targeted to a teen audience. “Want” is an understatement—teens and adults alike line up at bookstores to get their hands on books the day they’re released, flock to conventions and wait with baited breath until the final installments of various series are published. While it may seem like an oddity or deviation from common sense to many, it makes perfect sense if you break down the factors that appeal to the young adult audience.

While it’s easy to understand the bias against young adult novels, if you haven’t read any of the bestsellers, you’re missing the plot, no pun intended. Some may have read one young adult book they disliked immensely and swore off the genre forever. Obviously, both good and bad writing are not attributes of any genre in particular, so an entire category can never be judged on the experience of reading one book.

Targeted marketing campaigns aside, many young adult fiction books of recent years boast incredible depth and quality, tackling important issues and themes that transcend age and gender. For example, many popular dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and Revealing Eden portray address issues that, while commonly faced by teen protagonists, are ones that we’ve all experienced at one point or another and can relate to on myriad levels. Yet this can be said of many adult novels as well, so why are books for young adults becoming increasingly popular among audiences of all ages?

The reality is that there can be very little difference between adult fiction and young adult fiction books. Some of the best authors in history penned books that weren’t necessarily geared for a teen audience, yet the age of their protagonist dictated their genre classification as young adult. Excellent examples of this include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Catcher in the Rye, Little Women, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Go Ask Alice.

Another element behind the appeal of young adult novels is that they tend to be easy, quick reads written in straightforward language. Sometimes we’re looking for a true form of escape—and few books provide that as well as books for young adults do. Even dystopian novels offer a vacation from reality while enlightening or reminding us about social issues. They tend to be unique, fast-paced reads that are incredibly thought-provoking.

Last but not least, many adults simply want to see what the fuss is all about. With the record-breaking successes of series like Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Save the Pearls, those who would normally abhor young adult novels have opened their minds to the magic they evoke.

Image Source: bookstoreguide.org

Our Fascination with End of the World Books 150 150 srvvsa

Our Fascination with End of the World Books

Does the majority of our society believe we are doomed? Our fascination with end of the world books seems to indicate that we do. Whether it’s the Mayan predictions of 2012 or the words of Nostradamus, prophecies about the end of the world have been debated in books, idealized in films and flooding our pop culture for some time. From scholars, intellects and religious leaders to readers of young adult novels, there is clearly a near obsession with an apocalyptic ending of the world as we know it.

Movies in recent years have depicted fantastical portrayals of what could happen in the event of an apocalypse. In Legion, God was fed up with the wicked ways of the world and sent his angels to earth to mercilessly destroy it. In Zombieland, an epidemic plague turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating undead. In dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, society is divided into a harsh caste system where each of 12 districts send two of their young to battle to the death in an arena watched by the entire country. In Revealing Eden, most of the population is killed when the sun overheats, casting fatal radiation that those with light-skin cannot withstand. Young adult novels like these two are enlightening a younger audience of readers who devour books of this genre.

Clearly, pop culture is fascinated with doomsday. Sociologists say that the growing interest in end of the world books exponentially increases with catastrophes and negative times, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, war and economic recession. Perhaps there’s a sort of comfort readers take in reading about people in worse circumstances, or they can relate to the characters’ predicaments. Or maybe it’s the dystopian novels with hope that give them faith in the potential prospects for the future.

Whatever the driving force behind the current surge in popularity is, end of the world books and dystopian novels have been an object of fascination in our culture for hundreds of years. From Noah’s Ark and the flood that wiped out humanity and Mary Shelley’s Last Man, which was published in 1826, to modern day novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Victoria Foyt’s Revealing Eden, the appeal with the end of times reflects a hunger for meaning among readers of all ages.

Image Source: Doomsday20121221.com

Why Young Adult novels appeal to everyone 150 150 srvvsa

Why Young Adult novels appeal to everyone

It’s clear that young adult novels appeal to all ages—adult women flock to Twilight conventions and book signings, and it’s not just to accompany their teenage daughters (though clearly, they’re big fans of as well). Everyone from tweens to the middle aged swarm the bookstores for the latest young adult fiction books. It’s an interesting phenomenon and something worth looking at—why do young adult novels appeal to readers of all ages?

For starters, young adult novels provide an extraordinary escape into an imaginary world, far away from reality. While they address themes that are all too familiar to the teenage crowd, the issues tend to be ones that readers of all ages can relate to. If you were ever a teen, you’ve been there, done that—plus, many of the issues YA books cover transcend age and gender. The result is an entertaining outlet that is compelling and intellectually stimulating to every type of reader.

Another element of young adult fiction books that appeals to all ages is their tendency to cross boundaries and genres. Many popular books for young adults blend elements of romance, sci-fi, mystery, steampunk, fantasy and adventure. Others might combine dystopian literature with a romantic storyline or subplot, such as The Hunger Games trilogy and popular new releases like Save the Pearls Part One Revealing Eden. The possibilities are endless in the YA genre, as readers are open and excited to get their fix of many different elements, so authors strive to deliver.

In a recent survey conducted among adults who regularly buy books for young adults, many said they preferred the straightforward language they’re written in, as opposed to some of the flowery prose found in many adult novels. Readers also said they appreciated that there can be a romantic storyline and elements of fantasy, without some of the stylistic devices and gratuitous content that is often prevalent in books geared to an older audience. Books for young adults, even those from genres like fantasy, adventure or sci-fi, are all about the story—Revealing Eden is a perfect example—like much other dystopian literature, it’s got strong story with themes of romantic apocalypse woven in.