So. Guess what I was supposed to do on the 8th. That’s right, I completely missed my turn for the Teens Can Write Too blog chain, being under the mistaken impression (though I don’t know why) that I was due to write on the 12th. Since they have ceased to send us a schedule via email, it was not until I checked the site this morning to remember what the prompt actually was that I realised I should have written three days ago… I’m an idiot.
But, here it is, and hopefully you won’t judge me for completely failing to actually post when I should have done.
This month’s prompt is: “As anyone who reads (or writes) teen fiction knows, “Young Adult” covers a wide breadth of genres, from comedy to romance to horror. Should YA fiction be broken up into categories as adult fiction is?”
Yes. Okay, post over, let’s all go home.
No, but seriously. People are very quick to generalise – oh, it’s YA. So I’ll ask them about a book, ask them what genre it is or whatever, and they’ll tell me it’s young adult. That’s not a genre. That’s an audience. You wouldn’t just say ‘it’s an adult book’, would you?
And this is a problem, because you walk into the library and there’s a Teens section and you start looking at it and you have no idea where the books you’re interested in are. So you go through all of them. Now, on the one hand this is kind of handy, because you might come across something you’d have ignored. On the other hand, if you’re pushed for time, you want to know where to find sci-fi. Or where to find fantasy. Or where to find contemporary.
If I’m in the Adult section of the library, there’s a whole shelf for ‘Sci Fi and Fantasy’, and I can go and find what I want. I like that genre, because for me, it’s one of the few that’s generally suitable for younger people with perhaps more delicate sensibilities. To put it simply, most sci-fi and fantasy has minimal sex, generally because that’s not practical in a space suit. Yes, there are exceptions, but it’s quite an innocent genre. And I like that. I’ve been hanging out in that section of the library since I was about twelve.
There’s a Historical section. And a Sagas section. And a Romance section. And finally, a general Fiction section, which I guess is where they put everything that doesn’t fit anywhere else.
Yet when you go to the other side of the library, it’s Teen. And that’s it.
I guess I know why they do this: there isn’t enough YA in the library to have individual sections for it. (Here’s a thought – why not, in each Adult section, have a YA shelf? In the main SF section, why not have a shelf marked Teens that contains YA science fiction and fantasy? And ditto with other genres, so that when Teens run out of books on their own shelf they can easily branch out into the Adult section and they’ll know what genre they’re looking for? Just a thought.)
And it’s true that most teens haven’t yet decided what genre they like the most, so they won’t necessarily have a particular section to stick to. The variety of books they can find in one section is useful.
But I don’t want to pick up a book that looks really interesting, only to find it’s a romance novel. I don’t like them. I’d like things to be separated.
And when you go to recommend a book to a friend and they say, “What sort of book is it?” you need to be able to tell them what it is. Yet so often, you just don’t know, because the only label it’s given in is ‘YA’.
With Amazon and indie publishing it’s different, now. You have to put things in categories. So it’ll say Young Adult (or whatever the label is) and then >> Historical Fiction. Things are in lists and categories. Things are changing.
But ‘YA’ isn’t a genre. It’s an audience. I can’t stress this enough. You can’t just say “I’m writing a YA book” because that could be anything – anything at all, from a steampunk murder mystery to a twisted urban fantasy to a contemporary high school romance. The only thing that binds them together is the age range they’re aimed at.
Does that say Miriam Joy Writes on the 8th? Why yes, it does. How peculiar. My apologies to you all for being so tardy with my post.
November 5th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com – Musings From Neville’s Navel
November 6th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com – This Page Intentionally Left Blank
November 7th – http://amandafoody.blogspot.com – It’s All In My Head
November 8th – http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com – Miriam Joy Writes
November 9th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com – The Loony Teen Writer
November 10th – http://yourresidentwordbender.tumblr.com – Ink Spilled = Pages Filled
November 11th – http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com – Inside the Junk Door
November 12th – http://mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com – A Mirror Made of Words
November 13th – http://homestuckandwriting.blogspot.com – Life.
November 14th –http://realityisimaginary.blogspot.com – Reality Is Imaginary
November 15th –http://booksarebetterthandiamonds.wordpress.com – Books Are Better Than Diamonds
November 16th –http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com – The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
November 17th – http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com – Kirsten Writes!
November 18th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com – Teens Can Write, Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)