Have a good day!
If only it was that simple, right?
Age has nothing to do with it! But…
I’ve been writing middle-grade and YA fantasy novels (even though it was called teens novels – not literature for teens, G forbid – back then) since I’ve decided I wanted to be a writer, more than 20 years ago.
I am now a 35 to 44 years old aspiring author. I still write Middle-Grade and Young Adult novels, with even more passion and a bit more knowledge.
But sometimes, more often than I care to admit, sometimes, I feel… well… concerned about my group age, from a marketing point of view.
The book market loves young authors, and never misses a change to put some emphasis on it.
Youth: the go-to marketing strategy
A quick look at books deals, at all those hot new younger-than-me writers and I can help but wonder: where do we fit?
The older aspiring authors. The ones dealing with kids, family, house, day-job, fridgin’ winter tires change.
No matter how you look at it, the publishing industry DO favors either well-established authors, authors with a strong audience and, of course, young authors.
The same goes even here, in my small North-American francophone bubble.
Simply working hard at writing a darn good book is just not enough anymore.
So, what is a crazy writer on a quest to do…
Writing Young Adult Fiction: details to keep in mind no matter how old you are
Writing a YA novel means, for an author, to be able to connect with the emotional turmoil every teenager and young adult goes through.
Age as nothing to do with it. The emotional connections a writer creates between its characters and the readers are what matters.
But as older writers of books for young readers, we have to be aware of all those details than could be a real turn off for readers… or worst: revealed our age.
Details to be aware of :
- Characters voice
Being a teen doesn’t mean sounding angry, snarky or bored; doesn’t mean not being able to use full words to speak either.
By all means, avoid all shorten expressions, such as « LOL ». Only old people do that these days!
- Characters names
If a character is 16 years old and her name is Patricia… then she’s actually 66 years old and was born in the 1950s.
- Characters point of view
The protagonist should be aged between 14 and 19 years old max, and the story should be told from their 14 to 19 years old max point of view.
Stereotypes and labels are to be avoided at all costs.
You hated being labeled as the Reader, The Nerd, The Weird One when you were a teenager? Me too.
Characters is more than just a cheerleader, just a drug dealer, just a prom queen.
- Preaching is not allowed
No talking down to the readers.
Never too old to have fun
Writing for young readers makes me happy. I love diving into kids, tweens, teens, young adult point of views; dive into all those « firt’s » moments.
I love the hopes, the dreams, the drive children, kids and teens have.
They are marvellous dreams.
I hope this post helped unbuckled some misconceptions about a writer’s age and its literary genres of choice.
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Dear writer friends, until next time!
More on the topic:
Does the age of an author matter when writing YA fiction?, by Julia Eccleshare for The Guardian.
On Jane Friedman website, you always find an answer to your questions! Here’s two authors who started they’re writing careers at a later age.
If you write YA novels, there’s a good chance you read YA novels too. I stumbled upon that great post by Jessica Cozzi about YA readers.
If you are more of a writing craft book, check out: