New Adult, or NA for short, is a genre that is relatively new, but highly popular. Novels of this genre are usually romance stories involving characters (the hero and heroine) aged 18 to 26 years. Because of the age group, these stories appeal to young adults, adults, as well as people in their early twenties. There are many key elements of a New Adult story. The plot usually revolves around romance and the relationship between the hero and the heroine, the setting is often a college campus, and then there are the emotional issues of the characters themselves, which are often serious and traumatic both for the characters and the readers. These key elements are often the reason why New Adult is a hit or miss with readers – they either love the New Adult book, or hate it. This is why we’ve gathered some tips on how to ensure your New Adult book is fresh and unique, and a success with the readers.
1. Real characters
The characters in this genre often end up being extremely unrealistic. Their names might be spelled in a weird way, or impossible to pronounce. Their looks are also unrealistic; for example, the hero has an athletic body, though he’s never shown to be exercising. They are also financially independent, even if they’re in college (which, logically, costs a lot of money). The heroine will get the best of grades, even if she spends half her time partying or hanging out with her friends. These tropes are already becoming cliché or they will be clichés in a few years. So, keep your characters around the same age, but make them real. There should be a logical reason behind their name, their looks, and their grades as well.
2. Characters before setting
As previously mentioned, college is the setting of NA books, and while some books might require it, oftentimes, it’s just a place to be. Create your characters first – and as realistically as possible, and then get them to where they need to be. Maybe they attend college, but live on their own. And if they do, make sure they actually attend classes, have exams, and can afford the schooling in a realistic way.
3. Emotional connection
Another cliché with New Adult stories is the lack of real emotional connection between the hero and the heroine – often they connect over the fact that the hero, a womanizing charmer, is unable to charm the heroine, who in turn, has only contempt for his smiles and sweet words. And while that is interesting – if it happens once, it has become a very common situation in New Adult romance novels. Have your characters bond over something that is important to both of them, and have them connect in a way that is real. Their connection has to come from their natures, and shouldn’t happen just because the author wanted it to.
4. Problems and issues
Plenty of YA novels deal with issues, problems or traumatic events of the characters’ pasts. The same thing happens in the New Adult genre, as well as in adult fiction. Dealing with these issues is part of the journey of the characters, intertwined within the plot. However, the mind set of the characters is different – in YA, it’s about surviving and learning how to move on, but in NA, the characters are ready to face those problems, and learn how not only to move on, but to live again.
5. Branch out in different genres
While New Adult novels are commonly romance novels, do not be afraid to branch out in different genres. For example, there are plenty of New Adult romances set in a certain era of the past. What defines those novels as New Adults, despite the lack of the college setting is the maturity of the characters, the internal and external problems they have to deal with, the age, and the romance. So, if you want to write a dystopian novel, for example, that features characters that are in their late teens or early twenties, go for it, because the market has already been set, and there is plenty of room for branching out writing New Adult fiction with a paranormal twist, science fiction, or set in a distant future.
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.