There are so many writers trying their hand at young adult right now (just check the Absolute Write YA Forum) and since I'm one of them, it's not hard for me to see why. There's something special about YA, something magical. Whether I'm reading it or writing it, it's like I'm finally able to legitimately explore all of those intense feelings I had as a teenager without some adult dismissing me and telling me I'll get over it when I grow up. Because as a teenager, nothing seemed as important as everything. Nearly every decision was life-or-death, and it wasn't an exaggeration. It was simply the way it was. And sometimes, I kind of miss that. Don't get me wrong though, I certainly don't mind being able to jump into that mindset and then step away again when it's exhausted me and I've had enough (that's something I definitely couldn't do as a teenager).
Ilima Todd had a wonderful post today for Y (yearning) which sums up that feeling in YA that I love to remember and love to recreate.
Jenny Kaczorowski had an interesting post last week, asking writers to take a minute to consider who they write for and it really got me thinking about why I choose to write YA. To be honest, I didn't really choose - it chose me. If you primarily read or write YA, why did you make that choice?
Once the decision has been made to write YA, it's not enough to just sit down and write that teenage story that's been bouncing around your head for the past x number of years. YA has it's very own guidelines, some amazingly concrete, and they need to be followed. So which are the rules which can't be ignored? As far as I can tell:
1) age of the MC (14 - 17)
2) POV (first person or a super close third)
3) voice or perspective (it has to be the way a teen views/understands the world)
4) word count (50,000 to 90,000 - but of course, there are always exceptions. Just don't expect your MS to be one of them)
Other sources might argue that language and theme also come into play here, but I don't necessarily agree. To me, there's no topic that can't be covered in YA, it's just the approach (which comes down to voice and perspective) which needs to be adapted accordingly. Here are some additional viewpoints on what makes a manuscript/story YA:
Young Adult Novel Guidelines
Six Tips for Writing YA Novels
Top Ten Tips for Writing YA
Writing YA fiction for Dummies
And here are the opinions of some YA authors on YA and why they write it:
Writing YA versus Adult fiction - What's the Difference? by Susan Dennard (SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY)
10 Reasons Why I Write YA by Emlyn Chand (FARSIGHTED)
Challenges of Writing YA by Kait Nolan (RED)
So what do you think? Is there a pillar of YA, a golden rule, that I missed? What are the ultimate guidelines which can not be broken for you? And why do you write/read YA?