A Guest Post by author Margo L. Dill
Recently on Facebook, some of my writing friends had a discussion on how to write young adult books (YA). The discussion started with a post where a writer asked: "What makes a book YA? Is it just the age of the protagonist being a teenager?" Many people weighed in. Some agreed this was it. Some said it was serious subject matter handled less seriously than if it was written for adults. (Although I'm not sure this commenter had read any edgy YA recently. There's just about no subject that goes uncovered in YA books!)
It also can't be the age the readers or people buying the books that make them YA anymore either. I'm sure you've heard of the controversy going on over at The Slate, where one of the writers said adults should be embarrassed to read books intended for children. (I think even teens are offended by this since they are being called children.) Anyway, if you want to write young adult or you think you are writing young adult, how do you know?
I've been thinking about this question ever since that Facebook post. Here's what I came up with. . .
|Photo provided by Margo Dill|
When I wrote Caught Between Two Curses (contemporary YA, released March 2014, Rocking Horse Publishing), I did make my main character, Julie, 17 and set the book the summer before her senior year. So, I do think that's one of the main criteria for YA--the main character is a teenager.
The second criteria is that the teenager deals with teen problems. Although in CBTC Julie must break curses and save her family, she also has to figure out what to do about the boy she loves and his pressure to have sex. She has to decide who to go to Homecoming with. She has to choose between a loyal female friend and her feelings for her best male friend. She has detention. She has homework. She has to babysit her younger cousin. These are all teen problems!
The third thing that makes YA books young adult is: Who is the "intended" audience? There are adult books that have teenage characters, such as The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle. But that book was written for an adult, mostly female, audience. When I wrote Caught Between Two Curses, I was writing for a teenage audience. One of the first rules you learn about writing in elementary school is that you must consider your audience when writing anything. Your audience will affect the choices you make while writing. I heard YA author Sarah E. Fine, who is also a psychologist, say this during a workshop at the Missouri Writer's Guild conference a couple years ago, and it stuck with me. YA books are written for teenagers. This doesn't mean only teens can enjoy them, but that's the intended audience.
What do you think? Do you agree with my three criteria? Do you have any others you would add?
|photo provided by Margo Dill|
|Photo provided by Margo Dill|
Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time.
Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family's future, and her own love life--and time is running out!
To purchase a copy of Caught Between Two Curses, go to any of these links: Amazon , Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/foFvYdh8KNs
To find out more about Margo and her other books or editing services check out the following sites: