Why I Write YA: 10 Reasons Young Adult is the Genre for Me
by Emlyn Chand
I am 26-years-old, and I ♥ YA books. Now here I sit on the cusp of my big debut as a published author (squeal), but it probably never would have happened if I hadn’t found my affinity for YA.
In fact, the first novel I wrote was multicultural literary fiction— it’s never going to be published. I wrote lit fic, because I was trying to prove something to myself, to the world, to somebody. But the book didn’t encapsulate who I am or what makes me a strong writer. So naturally, the story fell flat.
I have no idea what made me decide to write YA the second time around. I even remember trying to avoid it. I spent months trying to convince myself that Farsighted was too ambitious of a project. I was this close to writing a historical fiction novel instead. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my inner worrywart, because writing Farsighted is the best thing I’ve ever done.
When you find that genre that speaks to you and allows you to speak through it, don’t let that go!
Now I’d like to share 10 reasons why I love writing YA. It’s okay if YA isn’t your genre du jour, but don’t force yourself to write something just because the genre is popular or well-respected. Write what your heart wants to write, and the rest will turn out okay.
I write YA because...
1. I wish I had a chance to do my teen years over again. To live them more fully. Writing about teens gives me the chance to do so vicariously.
2. YA is a broad genre. The sky’s the limit. I can write a dystopic novel this year and a romance or mystery next year. YA is not confined by specific plot conventions like other genres. It’s more focused on the characters.
3. YA has a broad readership. The primary audience is, of course, teens. But younger kids also enjoy reading about what the big kids are doing, and adults like reliving their glory days too.
4. The language is fun and approachable. Sure, you could write literary YA, but the candid and easy-to-read style of YA is part of its appeal.
5. First person POV is where it’s at. YA doesn't have to be told in the first person viewpoint, but a lot of it is. Adult literature sticks more to the third person. I love writing in first person. It’s easier for me to develop a character that way, and I enjoy the writing process more.
6. The characters are sympathetic. It’s easier to forgive the misdeeds of someone who’s “just a kid,” making it easier for readers and writers alike to identify with YA characters.
7. The characters can change and grow. They aren’t yet set in their ways. Growth is an expected part of teendom, and it’s wonderful helping your characters achieve that potential.
8. The readers of YA are incredibly devoted. If they like what you’ve written, they will tell the world. Can you think of any books that have a greater cult following than Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games? Because I can’t.
9. YA readers WANT to enjoy books. They’re not looking to tear a book apart and flesh out all of its flaws. They are willing to overlook weaknesses within a book and focus on what they love about it. Their pleasure in reading is free and much more pure.
10. It’s what I most enjoy reading. Write what you love to read. Don’t force yourself to write a romance if writing sexually suggestive scenes makes you uncomfortable. Don’t write literary fiction as a way to show off your intellect. Write what you want to write. Write was fits your talents and enthusiasm. That’s your best chance at success (no matter how you define the term).
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FARSIGHTED AND OPEN HEART
BY EMLYN CHAND