Hey Teen Readers — What makes YA, YA?

12 Aug

So, my fantasy is going through a major re-write. Basically, a fantasy judge suggested I do what I wanted to do in the first place and, really now, who doesn’t like to do what they want to do.  The downside of the suggestion is that the wordcount bounced way above the 65K everyone says YA should be (I disagree with this “standard”, but that’s another blog.)


So, people (all of which haven’t read the book) keep saying “why don’t you just pitch it as fantasy?”


Good question, easy answer – to me at least.


This book is YA. The story, the characters and the voice are all YA driven. I know adults have enjoyed it, but is it truly YA. In my head at least. Everyone who has read it hasn’t asked about moving it to adult, so what’s the divide on that?


But that brings up some interesting ideas. I LOVE Dawn Cook and am constantly adding “please have Dawn Cook write a third book to the Decoy Princess series” on my prayer list. I would call her fantasy (well I’d call them awesome) but I’d also call them YA. But there they are in the “adult” fantasy section.  Which seems odd because when someone asks me for the “compare yourself” thing (which, just like every other writer, I hate) I say, “think midway between Dawn Cook and Tamara Pierce.”

So, let’s get right to the question: What makes YA, YA?


Is it the voice? The characters? The situation? What’s dealt with on the page? The page count?!?


Tell me what you think – tell me why you think it. Rant! Rave! Compare!  I’m dying to know.

5 Responses to “Hey Teen Readers — What makes YA, YA?”

  1. Rose London August 12, 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    Young Adult or YA has to do with the age of the characters and their situations. Most YA shy away from too much sex and violence.

    YA is mostly for those aged 10 to 15 years of age.

  2. briaq August 12, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    Thanks Rose — I’m curious what you’d call the “older” YA then?

    Just curious 🙂

  3. Anonymous August 12, 2008 at 8:25 pm #

    YA has a protagonist that is in their teens. Tess, in Dawn’s series was 22 (even though she behaved much like a teenager) so that took the series out of the target YA range. It’s a shame, because I think it would have done much better in that genre. The subject matter was appropriate, and lots of girls would love the series.

  4. Emily Ryan-Davis August 12, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    IMO the young adult genre is less solely a matter of age or situation as it is a treatment of characters’ means with which to cope. An adult can take out a loan; a young adult has to rely upon a part-time job, a family cash source, etc. – as an example.

  5. Ella Drake August 12, 2008 at 10:23 pm #

    Love the question, and the answers above are great. Unfortunately, I haven’t read a bona fide YA in, well *almost* never. When I hit that age, early to late teens, I read SF/Fantasy. Much of that genre still has many of the same elements as YA, especially the coming of age theme. In the few YA books I read, I did come to the conclusion that as far as “romance” or girlfriend/boyfriend, the satisfactory ending pretty much excludes the relationship from lasting. Can you really have teen characters have a HEA in a romantic relationship? No. But, I don’t know how that’s handled in today’s YA books.

    I now find myself needing to understand the genre since my oldest son is moving into that isle (e-gad). And something we (his parents) find in his books that’s quite different from those targeted at adults, is the importance of the best friend and/or the importance of the mentor. The struggle between right and wrong on a small, personal scale and peer pressure are also much bigger.

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