September 16, 2019, 11:42:15 AM

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Messages - The Gem Cutter

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Well, I have my own approach - not saying it's The Approach, or was conveyed to me by Angels, but my approach is to write my book with an eye to my audience. My themes include a lot of items that are always simplified in YA fiction (one could argue that the depiction of tyranny and rebellion in Hunger Games is an example - good explorations, but simplistic), and I want to get into the nuances and complexities.

And I am a writer, not a publisher or an agent. When I finish, if someone said "Dude, this would rock in YA" I would certainly listen - I don't know the markets. And I don't read much in the genre and prefer stuff that is solidly not YA - Bakker's Prince of Nothing series, etc.

So appreciate your passion, and I am not knocking the genre - I am just disappointed by the little of it I've seen, as I so often am by most books. I am finicky - I cut my teeth on the Hobbit at 5, the LOTR in 1st grade, the Silmarillion before I could ride a bike :)

Woah! Easy there Cupi!  :o Who said anything about blacklisting?!

Just because someone's pet genre isn't someone else's doesn't mean anything hateful or short-sighted is going on. The fact there is a popular thread with the title "Do you avoid YA?" that has been active FOR TWO YEARS suggests that maybe not everyone thinks YA is quite as star-spangled awesome as some others do. Maybe, there are reasons. Nahhhh!

I doubt anyone will be talking about Divergent or Hunger Games in 3 years, let alone 10 or 20. Now, Harry Potter is clearly YA, and is superior, by far, IMHO, and I believe in 20 years and perhaps beyond, people will still be reading and talking about Rowling's books, and Crichton's.

This is a writer's forum, so I thought we were talking about writing - and I don't personally have an interest in writing YA fiction as such; meaning, I might write a work that fell into the genre 'by accident', but I am not purposefully pursuing the genre's teen and low-20-something audience. This doesn't make me an anti-YA fanatic - I have neither a torch nor an anti-YA-genre sign. Neither witches nor witch-hunters here, thank you very much. (Any references to that stanchion of a YA franchise "Buffy" were unintended, and yet, eerily on-task)

By all means, defend YA fiction from its non-attackers loudly, and from the rooftops! Decry its vanilla, disinterested critics as short-sighted, unable to differentiate whatever from ... something else, whatever it takes. Take no prisoners! Point to the flaws it shares with other genres and claim reverse-age-discrimination - that should gain traction! As Colonel Mustard said in Clue: "This is war, Peacock! You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs - any cook will tell you that!"

Me, I'm going back to writing.

Lady Ty, I am well aware of my bias, and despite your detailed response, I don’t think you really looked at my post with very much detail. My post may have come across as ill-informed, but I am not. If I came across as patronizing, I assure you, that was not my intention. Allow me to expand and explain:
-   I do love young people. I spent most of my life working with them in very stressful situations, and admire young people who give their all, even when they do not succeed. I cannot prove this, but many of the younger people I have known remain my good friends, and have generously thanked me for my assistance to them as they crossed the threshold from following into leading things.

-   I admitted that I was biased, meaning your admonishing tone is redundant, as I already admonish myself. That’s what biased means - I understand that the way I feel is often unfounded and flawed. This bias arises when the faults of YAs in general are accompanied by faults of individual character, which seem to enhance one another. This is an illusion, but it does affect the way I look at YA when they whine and wallow. I hold mature and elderly people to the same standard – it just feels different. The same attitudes among older people come across as bitterness, etc., but it’s still the same whininess. The thread was focused on YA, so I didn’t mention this, as it seemed off the topic.

-   I never claimed the young today are any weaker, lazier, etc., than previous generations. I have no generational issues – I never said that I had an issue with today’s young people that I didn’t also have with their counterparts in previous generations. I know very well, as a father of three YAs that today’s YA face daunting challenges far beyond what my generation faced. So, pay better attention to detail, as your assumption that I did have a generational issue was unfounded and led to your unneeded explanation of how these modern times differ from earlier ones.

-   I actually admire today’s generation of YA in a lot of ways. As a class, they have outperformed previous generations in distinct ways. That said, through social media, the mediocre and substandard YA are louder and more clearly seen and heard than their older counterparts. Again, this leads to a bias (see definition): I do not doubt every generation has had the same dredges among them – we just see this generation’s more plainly as such.

-   I disagree that individual YA talents remain undeveloped, as there are countless examples of today’s YA succeeding, thriving, and accomplishing just as much and often more for their age than previous generations. Hence my bias – beside the excellent of today’s YA, the dredges seem even more “dredgy”.

-   Your suspicions of my views’ foundation in specific media are well off, meaning both inaccurate, and off-topic. You don’t know me, and your presumption is rude.

You read what you wanted to read from my lighthearted post, and took away what you wanted to, that I am some grumpy old man who thinks his generation was better. I am not such a person, and I frequently and passionately correct people who take that position.
I think a lot of successful YA works are overrated: Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, the list goes on. Not to say they aren’t without merit and value, I just believe there’s some conflation.

Three random observations:

On some levels, I think YA shares the appeal of Pixar and many Disney films - there is content there for multiple levels of maturity, but couched so as to be mutually non-interfering, with the lowest common denominator being geared for the young. For example, pacing is particularly bent to appeal to the young/very young.

Reading this thread it occurs to me that my novel could be considered YA, although I break one of the rules specified earlier - I have an old version of the protag telling the story. But the fact I never considered YA as a potential branding for the work illustrates my sentiment - I am not interested in YA as such. I think I lack the necessary organs to appreciate it, as a class of books. Perhaps because when I was young, I read everything, and found that some works were appealing to me as a youth, in multiple genres - and YA tries to encompass them all: mysteries, romances, adventures, fantasy, coming of age, etc., which seems distracting and an unneeded doubling of all the genres (YA-fantasy vs. fantasy).

I am not sure if this is because I hold many young people in contempt, or because I hold their most popular works in contempt (Twilight? That's your generation's iconic work?). Don't misunderstand, I love young people, but I have a strong bias for the non-whiny, ambitious, and talented, and against their weaker counterparts. I know many YA who have fought and killed for their country, and faced terrible, complex problems - and knowing them, the genre leaves me feeling that they are poorly served by the genre that bears their name.

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