Saturday, June 9, 2018

Digital Storytelling M1 Story: My Book is Not YA

Kitchen table, cloth background


So, I want to talk about something that keeps coming up and why it’s very frustrating. My book is not a Young Adult book. (Add in a YA book on the side.) Look, I have nothing against YA novels. (Add another YA book.) In fact, there are a lot (add another book) of YA books (add another book) that I greatly enjoy. (Add all of the YA books I own.) YA is a great genre that helps its target age group deal with the problems unique to the point in their lives they’re going through, and when it comes to diverse YA, it’s even more important in showing young adults that they aren’t alone in their more specialized experiences. There are a lot of very talented, very hard working creators that are making brilliant YA fiction that inspires confidence and positive change in young adults. (Take out all the YA books) I am not one of them.

Now that we’ve established that YA is great, let’s talk about some of the comments I keep seeing on my work. I’m not going to say who said what, because this is not meant to attack or discredit any individual, but to address certain arguments I keep running into. There are two big ones I see - that I shoehorned in adult content, and that my writing style is too much like a YA novel.

Let’s start with adult content. At no point in my writing process, did I stop and think (Cut to typing at a computer desk and stop to gasp “Oh no, if I don’t add in some violence, bad language, and sexual content, this will be…. Young Adult.”) First, because none of these topics are outside the realm of YA - it’s the combination of the degree of graphicness and the way the material is handled that makes the difference between whether these are the themes of a YA or an adult novel. My novel is pretty graphic in some regards, and implied in others - but I write about these themes from the point of view of an adult, as my main character is one. A more recent critique I received was that my adult content made the book inaccessible to children even though there were childlike characters.

The first way I’ll address this is that my characters that are children are just… children. Not childlike. It’s an important distinction because you can have childlike characters that are not children. And in the same way that I didn’t stop to think about whether or not my book would be YA, I never went to my author lair like (Cut to “evil author” persona “Oh, yes, by adding this, I can ensure that no children get a hold of my story). I also don’t have a problem with young readers - I was a young reader. But just because a story has children in it doesn’t make it a book for children - A Song of Ice and Fire (Cut to Game of Thrones) has characters that are children, but you wouldn’t assume it was a children’s book because of it.

Moving on the the second argument - I know I write in a simplistic manner. This is on purpose. (Cut to finely dressed and sipping tea “Because while ostentatious, esoteric, superfluous words and long strings of poetic philosophical prattering may make me appear erudite…”) ...if I do it only to sound smart, I also come off as really pretentious. No one cares what you have to say if they don’t know what you’re saying. I want my stories to accessible to the widest audience possible - and shutting people out because they have a smaller vocabulary than I choose to employ is silly. So I wasn’t writing simplistically to appeal to a younger audience, but a wider one, which accounts for people who may not have had the same academic advantages I have. 

In conclusion, I don’t have a problem with YA novels (Cut to all the YA novels back) but my book is not one (Cut out YA novels and leave my book) and this was not done purposefully, as I honestly put no thought whatsoever into whether or not my book was YA when I wrote it.
I like talking to people so leave me a comment or question if you have one. And oh yeah - in the words of the venerable Varric Tethras… “Buy my book.”


(Post credits scene) By the way my new background is a tablecloth I got for going to cons in the future, with a map of Magdra, the fantasy world of my book, printed on it.

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