Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oops... Have I Written a YA?

Actually, I don't think I have. But from some of the wonderful definitions yesterday, it's actually possible I might have. The protagonist in my fantasy story is at the end of that age range. Could it be YA?

What a weird thought. I, who know nothing of YA, might possibly have written one...

Except, in the end, I don't think I have. Character age... check. But style? tone? theme? and the intent of the story? I don't think so. The story doesn't, in any way, deal with teen experience. And certainly the language and style don't fit in with what some of the definitions yesterday suggested.

Yet perhaps this has always been one of my fears: a publisher will love my story, and want to publish it, but will want me to change the basic style and feel of the story to somehow suit a particular audience--to Harry Potterize it, in some sense.

Because I don't think I could do that.

Am I only one that thinks this sort of stuff? What about you? Do you ever fear the idea of a publisher's "popular version" of your story?


Ted Cross said...

I consider my book to be an adult fantasy, even though some of the main characters are teens. I wouldn't like it if a publisher wanted me to change the style to make it fit into YA.

Justine Dell said...

I totally did this! I wrote something that is a weird cross between YA and adult dark urban fantasy. And um ... I'm still not sure what to do about it!

If an agent liked it, would they tell me to flip it around and make it totally YA? EEP! Because I don't think I could do that. I can't write YA. Or would they ask me to do something totally different?

Oh man. Now I am afraid for this story. LoL. Thanks, Ink!


Matthew MacNish said...

I would never do that. I'm not saying I wouldn't revise my story to fit some suggestions of an editor ... as long as those suggestions fit with MY vision.

It's my story after all.

And I wouldn't worry about this too much Bryan. Breaking the chains of genre conventions tends to be a pretty awesome thing to witness.

If you have a young MC (see what I did there?) who goes through war experiences in a near future world, but doesn't fall in love, and doesn't got to high school, it can still be YA.

That's the one thing I love about YA, it can be almost ANYTHING.

Bane of Anubis said...

Just make MC 85 and market it as old adult, the next wave ;)

Steve Abernathy said...

Just admit your book is a memoir.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...


Kathryn said...

This is such a great post because I think a lot of writers might think this from time to time. I'm like Justine; I have something that sort of lingers in between and this poor bastard of a book is so hard to define! Remembering yesterday's post too, it's so hard to put an exact finger on what defines YA. Look at "The Chrysalids". They were young adults, but the book isn't written in that "tone", nor is it about coming of age or teenage angst or anything like that. I'd argue that for the most part, "The Hunger Games" is the same way since Katniss is so "old". Phew... anyway... good luck with your work! I'm afraid I haven't brought up any new ideas to help you decide. :)

Mia Hayson said...

Oooh. Hmm. I agree with the others, yea, don't change to conform or anything.

I mean, after all, YA sprung up when people did something different. Different is good.


Anne R. Allen said...

A lot of books written for an adult market are being marketed as YA, without changing the content. Catherine Ryan Hyde only found out she was a YA writer after Pay it Forward came out and she saw the marketing. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was marketed as both adult and YA.

On the other hand, another writer I know had a book that was basically a teen's story, but had some episodes told from an adult POV. When an editor suggested she tell the story entirely from the teen's POV, it turned out to be a better book, with the same kind of impact, but it was much more marketable.

Adult literary fiction is a very, very hard sell, but publishers have no problems selling literary fiction to teens. I have no idea why, but that's how the market is working at the moment.

Marsha Sigman said...

'Harry Potterize it', LOL. Just throw a dragon in will make it all better.hahaha

I understand what you mean though, edits are a breeze, anything to make the story better but if someone wants to completely change the focus and feel then they just don't get your vision and they aren't the right person to represent your work. That's my opinion.

M.A.Leslie said...

We have that fear also. The Paranormal Thriller that we wrote is basically in the YA realm, but we don't think of it as YA.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Just tell those kids to get off the lawn! :) LOL

Also: what Matthew said.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I thought my first book to be adult science fiction, but when querying that angle turned up nothing, I submitted it as young adult since the main character was just out of his youth. My publisher liked it and decided to go with the adult theme after all.

Deniz Bevan said...

I'd like to see how I react to any publisher saying anything about one of my stories - I'm still working towards that point!

Donna Hole said...

My story involves and unhappy ending in a basic love story.

Need I say more about its possiblities of ever being published . .

I wrote the beginning of a fantasy novel and the age of my protagonist was 17. Then I got stumped for story line b/c I was afraid I'd have to have all those teen aged angst and love issues that I don't intend to make a part of my novel. She's just a 17 year old who happens to have adult/mage responsibilities.

What a quandry - to hope your character fits a genre category.


Jessica Bell said...

Lucky Press publishes YA that borders adult. All their YA titles deal with pretty heavy stuff like child abuse, alcoholism, murder. There is ALWAYS someone out there who is in for a bit of 'different' :o)

JM Leotti said...

I'm so glad you wrote this post, Bryan. I started out thinking I was writing an adult novel, but then gave it a double take, and realized the same thing--oops. I may have written a YA. I know Stephen King hates the term (I just read that somewhere).

The genre is growing and changing every day. As has been said before, YA crosses over a lot these days: Harry Potter, Twilight, and other series gained adult appeal as well.

Not sure if I would change my novel to suit a publisher. The changes would have to be in line with my vision of the book. However, if the editor gave me a good argument, and I saw the possibilities he/she was seeing--whose to say what I'd do?

All I know is, just now, I've got to deal with what I've written. Maybe my inner guide knew where he was taking me all along. I believe that sometimes your subconscious knows more than you do. I'm always surprised!

Good luck figuring out what you've got. I'm sure, whatever magic you employ, you will come up with a winner!

D.G. Hudson said...

Bryan, my sci-fi has the main characters in their early and mid twenties, but I don't consider it YA, either. (But--what is the age group for YA?)

Sometimes I think we've had our writing too compartmentalized, and we stress over what we've created, trying to fit it in someone's preconceived boxes.

(PS - rocking chairs can be nice, but I wouldn't consider you an old grump, Bryan. More like the opposite.)