Writing young adult novels
is 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.