What Makes YA, YA — Continuing the discussion

13 Aug

So, there’s been a lot of chatter on the forum I write on (and a little here) to answer that question. Thanks to everyone who has jumped in. 


Here’s what I’ve surmised:


It isn’t age.  At least two popular college series are classified as YA (one may have been shifted with the third book – I need to get to a B&N to see grab one off the shelf and check out its info.)


It isn’t innocence. Otherwise Gossip Girls wouldn’t exist as well as a bunch of books that actually ARE realistic.


It isn’t genre. YA runs the gamut (as we discussed elsewhere) but I do feel there are books that could be considered YA but made a sprint at their genre shelf instead.


It isn’t the issues. YA covers everything from sweet crushes, to sex, to prejudice, to abuse or rape, drugs, alcohol, recovery, running away, sticking it out, marriage, pregnancy, work, college, high school, dropping out, making the grade, parents being absent, parents being too involved, parents who are independent or dependent of their children, fears and phobias, social stigmas, moving up in the world, wanting more, needing things to stay the same or change…. Anyway, I think we can say, it isn’t issues.


It isn’t just for girls. I feel like there has been a campaigning for people to start writing “lad lit” — BUT I’m wondering how much of that is just marketing schemes? I mean, jumping back at the whole “It isn’t genre” category, most guys I know read a lot of non-YA stuff but it was genre specific. So for all those books that were originally considered by their genre and are now being herald YA — One example that springs to mind is Ender’s Game.


It isn’t cost. Have you priced out the newest “big books” in the YA section?


It isn’t appeal. YA has a broader appeal than the age bracket (s) it’s said to be written for.


So, what is it?  More opinions? Jump in!

2 Responses to “What Makes YA, YA — Continuing the discussion”

  1. Unhinged (Andi) August 24, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    Well, I agree with Rose on the previous post. It’s the CHARACTER and his/her SITUATION, and how their age limits or defines their actions and reactions. The story can be about anything, but if you’re writing for ages 12 thru 16, I tend to think that you have to keep that age in mind while you’re writing–even if you’re dealing with a tough subject like incest or rape.

    I also think most YA are written in first person pov. That should make it easier, right? Even if a story isn’t told in first, a character’s narrative is also defining (and limited to age/experience).

    The YA I read were always heavy on action–CHARLOTTE’S WEB; THE LION, THE WITCH & AND THE WARDROBE; BLUBBER; the NANCY DREW series.

    The “older” YAs were more character-driven, less about action, and more sexually-driven (with more swearing, too): the TWILIGHT series (lol), FOREVER; PETALS ON THE WIND.

    When I got past the YA stage, which was pretty early, I hungered for historical romances. Mom wasn’t happy, but there you go. I feel like I hopped directly from Judy Blume to Jennifer Wilde. 🙂

  2. briaq August 25, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    I agree.

    I do think what’s hard for us as writers, is that YA has changed to an AMAZING degree since we were reading it – the scope of not only what is more mainstream (topics only certain others could and should have handled then) now to the way it’s being written — struggling to keep today in the forefront is an everyday challenge for ya writers now

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