From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Thursday, October 24, 2013

3 Reasons I Love Writing Young Adult Literature

My first novel is an adult novel, about a 40 year old zookeeper named George. It is definitely the story that needed to come out of me first. I was a bit that pretentious and presumptuous high school kid reading Les Miserables on the bus, and actually didn't really come to young adult literature as a genre until I was in college.

I am fixing this. My roommates in college were and are very good sources for great YA lit recommendations, and I've found some new loves. The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, anything by John Green. Such good stuff.

So when the next character in my head was a fourteen year old girl, I was pretty excited. I had a blast writing from her perspective. And not just that I had fun, but I've been doing some thinking, and there are three major reasons why I think I will keep writing YA.

1. Length. This is probably the most superficial of my reasons, but its still a reason. I am naturally a short writer. Quite short. I look with envy on my friends who write too much and have to pare down. I, on the other hand, have to add and add to get to the length and level of story I want. So the shorter length acceptable for YA is a good thing for me.

2. First Person Voice. Not all YA is written in first person, obviously, and not all adult lit has to be written in third. However, often the tone of YA fits with a voice-driven, personable first person. That means that once I had my character in my head, the tone felt smooth and natural. It felt much easier to just listen to her tell the story rather than try and be some omniscient observer without sounding clunky. It's been said that first person is a lazier choice, but I don't care, and I disagree anyway. It was dang fun.

3. The Next Generation. If you really want to impact this world--if you want to influence the people who will be the movers and shakers--you write for teens and kids. Think about what books shaped you as a person, or changed you. I'll bet the first books you thought of were books you read as a kid. Judy Blume, anyone? She was one of mine. Also Sharon Creech, C. S. Lewis, and Beverly Cleary. I think we would all love to be somebody's Judy Blume.

Who knows, the next book I write may not be YA. In fact, the idea cloud in my head is shaping into more adult than YA. However, I think I will always be contemporary (magical realistic a bit?), and will always come back to YA.

Do you write YA? If yes, do you agree? If no, what do you love about your specific genre?

Sarah Allen


  1. I'm so prolific....

    Hugs and chocolate,

  2. I like that YA feels so open, that you can combine subgenres and experiment a little more. It's exciting. I also like reading about characters with meaningful relationships that inspire young people. With so much negative representation of young women in our culture, I'd like to think that books show us another side.

  3. First person isn't a point of view I'd feel comfortable writing. However, I do not write long works either and always have to go back and add.

  4. I don't write YA, but my kids read it and often beg me to read a book they loved. Impacting and shaping teens is a beautiful reason (and reward) for writing YA.

  5. I know the feeling of my writing being short. It's just impossible to write long paragraphs and very detailed passages :-)

    And even though your stories are short, they are also very deep. Proof that you don't need many words.

    Also, thanks for the tip on writing a post on where to submit screenplays. I will certainly do that. Meanwhile, if you have any questions regarding screenplays, don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail.

  6. Congratulations on finishing your novel! I'm not find of reading or writing first person, but I do enjoy getting into very deep third person pov. And since I write romantic suspense, I need to be able to show both the hero and heroine's pov.

    thanks for visiting my blog!

  7. Hey! It's great to find your blog.

    I love writing YA because of its tremendous intensity and creativity--it's not like any other genre. Gotta love it. :)

  8. I couldn't write for adults, I just couldn't! Well, not at length, I do write some short spec fic for adults. YA and children's books are the last refuge of the story, and character, as opposed to literary "beautiful writing" that doesn't say much. I can't remember the exact quote, but someone said something about adult books being about important things like divorce, while children's books were about such trivial things as good and evil... ;-)

    Keep going. Besides, when you go to a writers' party, the real fun will be happening on the side of the room occupied by the children's writers. I know this from experience.

  9. I wrote a YA series, but they were not short books. Technically, they fall into the new NA category now.

  10. I definitely have to add more every time!

    Those are all really great reasons, actually. Beverly Cleary and Lois Lowry were two of my favorites. Oh, and Louis Sachar!

  11. I've written some MG and YA. I'm not out to change the world or train someone from afar. I just want to touch base and let them know others share the same feelings.

    They are not alone. hehehe

  12. Sarah, I've written and published YA, and now I've written and am about to publish upper MG. There are things I love about both of them, although in the end, I think the MG book ended up being more fun. The VOICE was more fun for me. But I miss the romance.

    I haven't tried writing for adults. I guess I'm a little intimidated that I won't be able to produce a plot complex enough for adults. (Although I think a lot of adults read YA books, so I don't know what that means!)

  13. Yay for enjoying and having fun writing your chosen genre!! My writing tends to be eclectic - but one thing I know I'm pretty bad at is writing humour! Is that a genre? Comedy writing? I stink at it! LOL! Take care

  14. I don't write YA because its simply not me. Me is adult fiction. As for my genre, I label it "Quirky Fiction", simply because it's been tough to categorize/pigeonhole for the past few years.

    I am starting to get into flavoring my stories with the paranormal, so maybe you can label my fiction as "Quirky Paranormal".


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