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Author Topic: What is YA?  (Read 15159 times)

Offline betsdavies

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #30 on: September 11, 2011, 07:48:26 PM »
To answer myself, in my YA writing class, our proff. told us the best way to get a feel for what YA is, and where the sub genres for ages fall, is to go read/flip through a lot of YA at a bookstore or library.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2011, 02:41:20 AM »
My understanding of YA is that it has:

* Characters a little bit older than the target audience
* Themes/plots that teenage readers can relate to
* Less subtext and assumption of general knowledge than an adult novel

Beyond that, all bets are off. You can find YA with surprising amounts of sex, bad language and violence.

The reader age range for YA is about 11-16, certainly no older - despite the fact that YA stands for "young adult", in practical terms it means "young teenager". Admittedly there's a huge difference between an 11-year-old and a 16-year-old, but as a category separate from both middle-grade and adult fiction it works well enough. Between adult supervision and the reader's own discretion, I think people gravitate towards appropriate books.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 02:43:55 AM by AnneLyle »
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Offline Minesril

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2011, 07:28:46 AM »
There's three main genres:

The 'coming of age' story, usually set over one summer holiday
Paranormal romance
Dystopia/post apocalyptic.

Unless anyone can think of any others.

Offline Thyra

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #33 on: September 30, 2011, 10:33:39 AM »
I must admit that YA confuses me. I don`t think we had that here when I grew up and I do suspect that everything changed with Twilight (groan). That was when they started rebuilding the bookstores here in Norway and make YA-sections. Only - most bookstores seem to think that "if it has fangs or claws - move it to YA" and so I`ve found Southern Vampire Mysteries in between all the Twilight and Vampire Diaries and what not when I`ve been looking for books for my kids. I`ve even found Song of Ice and Fire there so maybe bookstores just figure "if it`s made into a movie or a series - it`s YA".

Or maybe they just figure that YA is some weird American abbreviation for fantasy  :P




Offline Nighteyes

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Re: What is YA?
« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2011, 11:01:39 AM »
It does seem to be a bit of a marketing tool which is often misapplied to certain books . . . If in doubt I would ask the writer whether they intended their book for younger or older readers.
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Offline EatthePen

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #35 on: October 09, 2011, 05:05:44 PM »
The thing I look for in trying to judge whether a book is 'YA' or not is thematic content; fundamentally, is it about puberty? I'm being a bit facetious putting it like that, but my point is this; there are a bunch of romantic, emotional and social experiences which, while not exclusive to kids going through puberty, are most common during that stage of life. 'Coming of age' stories are one strand of that, but there are also clashes with parental authority (and, hand-in-hand with that, various ways of engaging with the feeling most kids seem to have at some point or another that they wish they were free of their parents, which is where all those orphan main characters come from), discovering romance, and a sort of creeping disillusionment with the world or species in general. If the book mainly tackles these kinds of issues, either literally or in metaphor, then I assume it's YA unless there's some really big stylistic thing that makes it obviously not.

Stylistically there are a few things which stand out about the books I'd identify as YA; they tend to be short relative to whatever genre they're in (this is particularly true of fantasy; I can't think of a YA fantasy book that gets much beyond 120,000 words, but mainstream fantasy can be much, much longer), they tend to be faster-paced and the language tends to be more at the 'invisible prose' end of the spectrum, with little time given over to long, poetic descriptive passages. Not general rules, but common features.

Despite all that, I think the 'YA' label is a bit misleading. The biggest fan of YA fiction that I know is my <age redacted to protect me from her wrath> mother, who has at least one ceiling-to-floor bookcase full of YA fiction and 'Children's' books that if they had been published today would have been classed as YA. A good YA book appeals to the child in you however old you are, but it will probably be about a young-adult or teenage conflict.
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Offline rbharkess

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #36 on: October 10, 2011, 08:45:41 AM »
I think people over-analyse 'what is YA'. I agree with many here that its just a marketing label, where stories are chosen by author or publisher to be placed on these particular shelves in the bookstore.

In terms of content, I never like to hear of anyone suggesting there should be any overt message or moral to a YA book, in the same way I would if someone tried to inject the same into an 'adult' story.

I mostly agree with AnneLyle's definition. That would certainly be an accurate description of my novel, but my novel is pitched very much at the younger end of the market. I hope I haven't 'written down' to them. Certainly didn't intend to. But I do believe there are graduation within the YA market, and that it isn't a 'one size fits all' brand.


Offline betsdavies

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #37 on: October 15, 2011, 08:49:16 PM »
Young YA--aimed at the 11-13 age has a different format and usually tackles different issues than older YA--14-16.  Younger YA has less in the way of sex, though violence still exists and some grittier novels will include sex and drugs at that age.  This age is more concerned with how to grow into a teenager, parental or adult involved clashes and solutions.  They can't quite be called coming of age since by the end of the story the characters are most likely still struggling with their full identities.  The older age group can be expected to more solidly confront sex, drugs, violence, death, insanity and a sense of having individuated by the end of the book.  The books contain more metaphor and subtext while the younger group are a little more straightforward.  The key to writing most YA books is to use slightly older characters and if anything write them stylistically and contentwise slightly above the aimed audience.  Above the aimed audience is miles better than writing below.  The last thing a teen wants is to condescended to.

Offline Carl

Re: What is YA?
« Reply #38 on: July 28, 2012, 05:15:28 PM »

I told them to look at writing size, publisher and who has recommended it but that the usual giveaway factor is the age of the protagonist.


I think that may be oversimplifying though. I recently read a sequel to a book that had adult characters in the first of the series but had some children as important characters in this one. The main protagonist was I think pre-teen or just 13, around that age. Further in it becomes more apparent that she interacts with adults from the first book and other important characters are adult. It's not written like YA at all. There are plenty of subtleties in the plot that I think would be lost on most 13 year olds.


Fantasy will quite obviously be intended for an educated reader who is expected to flick back through pages to clarify things. YA tends to dwell on clarifying things for the reader and can feel to adults as over-emphasis and repetitive.


I think this explains it best.  :)
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 05:17:11 PM by Carl »

Offline Eclipse

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Re: What is YA?
« Reply #39 on: April 16, 2017, 10:20:04 AM »
I'm confused with the YA labels myself YA  labels are meaningless, I'm a fan of Dan Wells John Clever series it's classed as YA, Blurb below

is it because his a teenager?

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He's spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He's obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn't want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he's written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don't demand or expect the empathy he's unable to offer. Perhaps that's what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there's something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can't control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.


« Last Edit: April 16, 2017, 10:23:41 AM by Eclipse »
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: What is YA?
« Reply #40 on: April 16, 2017, 10:22:31 AM »
It's odd that my question started this thread off, because here I am a couple of months later and much to my astonishment 'Prince of Thorns' is being marketed in the Netherlands as a YA novel. It absolutely is not YA and will not be marketed as such in the US or UK ... in fact it's very definitely a grown-up work and about as far from YA as you could get without being boring.

I can only imagine that the youth of the main character somehow prompted the mistake...

That's quite funny  ;D
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