Everybody Say YA YA Young Adult Fiction

This post is the fifth of a series of six blogs that I’ll write as a participant in the Blog Hop for Writers started by Ruth Snyder. Once you read my post you should “HOP” on over to see what the other writers have to say.

The fifth topic of the six on the Blog Hop is “My Favorite Genre”

Some people wouldn’t classify Young Adult as a genre, per se. It is a target audience. For my post today though I’m going on the premise that the whole realm of YA is a genre with sub-genres.


What I love to read, and therefore write, is Young Adult Fiction. I personally don’t care if the sub-genre is Dystopia, Paranormal, Fantasy, Adventure, Contemporary or what have you. I read, and am willing to write, it all.

If the story follows a few of the following guidelines it can be classified as Young Adult.

YA Fiction has to have a teenage protagonist. A story written from an adult point of view just can’t be Young Adult. Any adult is a secondary character who will never take the spotlight off the teen’s storyline.

Male or female, the main character is going to grow up some during the course of the story. Most YA fiction deals with a coming of age issue. It can be abuse, drugs, alcohol, ancient curses or even dragons. Whatever it is, the protagonists will be tested in a way that they will have to rise to the occasion and be wise beyond their teen years.

Young Adult Fiction is usually fast paced. If you look at any Young Adult section in a bookstore or library, the majority of the titles are going to be hovering around the 70K word count. Of course there are exceptions (The Twilight books are so big you could trip over them), but as a rule the plots in these books move quickly.

In YA books there tend to be a lot of dialogue. The characters have plenty to say to each other and even to themselves. Again, not always. During much of the Hunger Games Katniss is making her way through the woods alone. There is no one to talk with, but she carries on the inner-dialogue quite a bit.

There are of course trends in the Young Adult Genre that seem currently prevalent, but will likely change with time and inclination. One is that most Young Adult stories are being written in first person. The character’s story is being told by the character and we see how she deals with the circumstances in her own voice.

Another trend is a prominence of present tense used. This adds a bit of suspense to action stories. We have no idea how the story is going to end up for our protagonist since the action is being described as it happens. When a story is told in past tense, you know that the teller lived to tell their tale.

Paranormal and Dystopian sub-genres have now started to lose their hold on the Young Adult audience and the big name publishers. Contemporary stories have made a come-back and who knows, Action-Adventure and Fantasy may take the reins. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I’ve taken you through my opinions about what it means for a story to be considered Young Adult Fiction. Few rules are set in stone. Beyond having a teen hero and growing throughout the process, anything goes. One thing’s for sure, Young Adult Fiction changes rapidly. That’s the beauty of the genre. It’s just as exciting to write as it is to read.


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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Everybody Say YA YA Young Adult Fiction

  1. I have also noticed the trend to using present tense. (Hunger Games for instance is a good example)

    • When I first started reading YA, the present tense POV was disconcerting. Now I eat it up with a spoon. It’s so in the moment.

  2. I haven’t read much in YA, mostly because I haven’t given them a try yet. There are so many sprawling epic fantasies I haven’t cracked open yet that are calling my name! Maybe I’ll check out YA some day. 🙂

    • You should give YA a try…for the most part the fantasies aren’t epic, but they are so exciting (I suggest Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Her voice is amazing).

  3. Leanne, thanks for sharing about YA. I’ve enjoyed the stories I’ve read in this genre, but you already read about my preferences 🙂 I’m glad you joined in the blog hop. It’s been fun getting to know you a bit.

    • That’s how we know where our preferences lie. We take a taste of everything and end up back at the one we enjoyed most.

  4. Can I just say, I hate present tense? It drives me crazy. Seriously. No one narrates in present tense in their mind, why would you do it in a book? Anyhow, just my two bits.

  5. I love YA. You broke out the core elements very nicely. I write in just about any POV so I have to be careful not to mix them… Thanks for the post!

  6. Like your thoughts on YA and totally agree. As an Angel for Jeremy for A-Z Challenge, I am just dropping in to say hi!


  7. I often like to pick up a book written for the YA market. Sh, don’t tell, but I read The Twilight Saga. (I even read the last book twice; and I “never” reread novels.) I know many of my fellow blog hoppers love historical fiction. Truth be told, I prefer historical books written for a teen audience. I’m more character-driven, so lengthy descriptions don’t really appeal to me. As much as I like to read YA books, it is the one age group I’m not sure I could write for. While watching (yes, watching) Ender’s Game, I said I didn’t think I was smart enough to write for teens. 🙂

    • I loved the Twilight books. And I also love character driven story lines. Coming of age themes grip me. Maybe I’m still coming of age. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I won’t tell anyone you like Stephenie Meyers.

      • I also read The Host, the last chapter of which (not the epilogue) made me sob aloud. Part of me thinks the story should have ended there. The epilogue, however, was a tissue from Stephenie Meyers hand to mine. 🙂

      • Oh, you ARE a writer (love the line about the tissue)!

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