First and foremost: Young Adult is not a genre. Many writers tend to believe this, but, the words Young Adult only describe the age of your intended audience. However, this doesn’t mean that Young Adult novels should be written by a mold to fit the target audience – in fact, there are plenty of Young Adult novels out there that are read both by teenagers and adults. This is the reason why we’ve gathered several tips on how to create a novel that will appeal to teenagers and adults as well.
The protagonist needs to be a teenager – otherwise, your book will not be labeled as Young Adult, and that goes without saying. But, your protagonist and the other characters (whether teenagers or adults) have to be well rounded, as if you were writing an adult book. Teenagers have their own character traits, which are more susceptible to change then an adult’s would be, and this means that no matter what kind of a story you’re writing (romance, dystopia, paranormal, fantasy, or science fiction) your protagonist will have a character’s arc in which he or she will change drastically, and learn a lot about himself, or herself, in the process.
2. Point of View
The story doesn’t necessarily have to be told in first person point of view, although this happens quite often in Young Adult books. However, even if you’re writing in third person and following more than one character (writing from multiple PoVs), they still have to be teenagers. You have to find the right voice for them, portraying their inner thoughts and their behavior in a way that shows that, while they might be mature for their age, they are still teenagers. So your protagonist will often have thoughts about school, the future, or if they don’t go to school, then there has to be a specific reason why, which would lead to their feelings about missing school (regrets, or happiness).
Preaching and sharing your opinions about the world with your reading audience is never a good idea, especially not in fiction. The readers are looking for an escape, not a reminder of reality. However, this is especially true about Young Adult books – because the main part of your reading audience is teenagers, and teenagers will spot preaching in a book really quickly, and might not finish reading your book, or pick up another book that you’ve written. Sure, some of your opinions will show in your writing, and that is okay, but your characters don’t necessarily have to share the same worldviews as yourself, especially teenagers. Teenagers can be so fully immersed into their world, that often, they don’t pay attention to the rest of the world as an adult would.
4. The Topic
When it comes to topics and issues that you can address in your book, you have to be really careful. While you can write about sexuality, homosexuality, rape, and even drugs, you shouldn’t address more than one big major issue in your book, because your readers might feel that it is too much. On the other hand, when you have school related topics, like bullying to feeling insecure – a teenage audience will find it easier to relate with that, so you can explore a variety of those issues without overwhelming your readers.
At the end of a book where the protagonist is a teenager, chance is, they wouldn’t have grown much, age wise, especially if the events of the book take place during a school year. Most often, the protagonist should complete his or her journey successfully, and the end has a hopeful note for the future. Often, adult novels can leave the reader sad, especially if the novel has a bittersweet or a sad ending. In Young Adult novels, the readers need to feel the hope that the protagonist feels for the future, the hope that comes from the realization that they can do and be anything they wish, as long as they truly want that and believe in themselves. Young Adult is not a place for bittersweet endings, or happy-for-now endings, because teenagers are still, in a certain way, children, and their journeys and character arcs will most often end in hopeful, rather than bitter, tones.
Image credit: Richard Leeming on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic.
As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.