PDA

View Full Version : "a little too YA"


missesdash
08-17-2011, 09:01 PM
Okay, here's my first "insecure writer" thread.

I just had a beta tell me she stopped reading because my style was "a little too" YA.

What.does.that.mean.

Is this something I should work on? Is it a bad thing or a matter of taste?

KateSmash
08-17-2011, 09:09 PM
It means you should get a second opinion. Preferably from someone that knows YA (since I'm assuming that's what you're going for).

Fruitbat
08-17-2011, 09:10 PM
I don't know why someone would offer to beta YA if they didn't like YA. I think she must have meant something else.

suki
08-17-2011, 09:15 PM
Did she mean the story? OR was she trying to say your writing itself felt immature? Maybe ask for clarification? And yes, get some more betas.

~suki

Archie1989
08-17-2011, 09:18 PM
Unfortunately, not all beta's are awesome. Sometimes they just lack the tact to tell you things in a relatively nice manner, but sometimes they're just not the right people to read what you've got.

*checks inbox*

I promise not to tell you anything that vague =]

missesdash
08-17-2011, 09:19 PM
That's the thing. I'm worries it was a nice way to say something that would have been more helpful. It says specifically:

"First of all, I think you have some great imagery, your characters are interesting and you have an amazing imagination. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what it is about the story, I just can't get into reading the whole thing. I think maybe it's because the flavor might be a little too YA"

Okay someone help me extract useful criticism from this.

romcomgirl
08-17-2011, 09:30 PM
That's the thing. I'm worries it was a nice way to say something that would have been more helpful. It says specifically:

"First of all, I think you have some great imagery, your characters are interesting and you have an amazing imagination. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what it is about the story, I just can't get into reading the whole thing. I think maybe it's because the flavor might be a little too YA"

Okay someone help me extract useful criticism from this.

It's really hard to get anything useful. But my interpretation of it is...

1). Your plot is good.
2). Your characters are well-rounded
3). but I don't like YA.

It wasn't a very useful critique so you need a second opinion because there's no logic to YA being "too YA". The only thing I can think of is that she thinks your manuscript is for Tween YA when she was under the impression that it wasn't. Granted, I don't know what your manuscript is about so I personally can't say anything.

Overall, get a second opinion because a beta should be giving specific, useful critiques and and not brush off any kind of comment. If your beta now is this vague, then maybe you need a different person to critique.

missesdash
08-17-2011, 09:34 PM
@rom thanks.
It was just a one time thing, she didn't read on. So this was just an email to let me know she wasn't going to finish. That, I appreciate.

I've written her back to ask where she stopped reading. I figure that will at least give me an idea of some weaknesses in my pacing.

Jehhillenberg
08-17-2011, 09:38 PM
"A little too YA" (i really don't get what this means), hmmm, maybe the story just wasn't for that reader. They might like certain types of YA like coming-of-age, more literary, dark/gritty, or commercial or whatever. Your story doesn't suck, maybe they got to a point and figured they couldn't provide the info/feedback you needed. Maybe it dragged a little for them. IDK. That's the toughie in finding beta readers, finding someone compatible. Yes, get more beta readers and let them know what you're looking for in critiquing and feedback as a reader.

cherita
08-17-2011, 09:39 PM
Yeah, I second (or third) that you need to get clarification from that beta. It would be helpful to know if it's someone who loves YA and reads tons, or likes it and reads it sometimes, but even then the comment is still too vague to be helpful.

Having never read your ms (although if I wasn't so busy I'd totally ask to beta for you b/c your story sounded interesting and I like your writing -- so let that boost your confidence!), maybe they mean the situations are too over-the-top intense or maybe the dialogue is *too* authentic to teens (i.e. lots of cussing) or something? Those are some explanations I've seen in reviews of YA books the reviewers complained they were *too YA* (which is weird to me, but whatever).

Fruitbat
08-17-2011, 09:47 PM
Okay, then. It sounds like she lost interest and couldn't quite put her finger on why. It made a lot more sense without that whole last sentence.

juliatheswede
08-17-2011, 09:49 PM
"A little too YA" (i really don't get what this means), hmmm, maybe the story just wasn't for that reader. They might like certain types of YA like coming-of-age, more literary, dark/gritty, or commercial or whatever. Your story doesn't suck, maybe they got to a point and figured they couldn't provide the info/feedback you needed. Maybe it dragged a little for them. IDK. That's the toughie in finding beta readers, finding someone compatible. Yes, get more beta readers and let them know what you're looking for in critiquing and feedback as a reader.

I agree with this. I always find it enormously helpful to know what kind of books/writers my betas like so I know where they're coming from when they critique my stories. I also find it helpful to read a chapter or two from my beta's work--if she/he's a writer-- because, this way, I know their taste, where they're coming from and their level of writing skills.

Kitty Pryde
08-17-2011, 10:03 PM
Non-useful critique from someone who doesn't read the genre. A YA novel cannot be too YA-ish, a kids novel cannot be too kiddish, a fantasy novel cannot be too fantastical, a mystery novel cannot be too mysterious. It's like saying a book was too filled with words and sentences. File that crit in the circular file and write on.

mellymel
08-17-2011, 10:04 PM
My first question is, is this particular beta reader an avid reader/writer of YA? If the answer is yes, then I'm inclined to "guess" that for her, it felt too young. Like somehow the voice or story line or what have you, were more of a MG feel, or on the extreme end of that, maybe it was too "edgy" for his/her taste.

I think it's really important when you have beta readers (and personally I have at least 5 for my novels--though not everyone agrees with this an that is fine) that most of them are people who read in your genre. Not all of them, but most of them. I just can't fathom giving my YA paranormal thriller to a beta reader who reads/writes Adult sci-fi. They just won't connect. They won't "get it". However, it can work if you are giving your book to that particular beta reader with a very specific purpose in mind. As I go along in beta readers, I generally ask each one to let me know of anything that isn't working for them (and please tell me if there is anything they do like), but to pay attention to a specific thing as they read: pacing, plot holes, does the voice ever sound inconsistent, any inconsistencies throughout (which sometimes you can miss when doing many revisions ;)) and that kind of thing. Also, when I think the book is as prepared as it can be, I give it to 1 or 2 more people and ask them to just read and give me their overall opinion about the story. Not only does this make things easier on the beta reader by giving them a clear sense and purpose when approaching your MS, you'll also find that it will be less overwhelming to you regarding feedback. JMO of course and others may totally disagree. That's fine. This is what works for me and what works for me, doesn't work for everyone. Just something to think about and consider. :)

GL

ETA: Would it be possible to email him/her and just straight up ask them what they meant? Tell them that you've been pondering their comments and trying to figure out how to approach revisions and would like some further insight regarding that part of her comment?

DrunkenLilacs
08-17-2011, 10:05 PM
I agree with this. I always find it enormously helpful to know what kind of books/writers my betas like so I know where they're coming from when they critique my stories. I also find it helpful to read a chapter or two from my beta's work--if she/he's a writer-- because, this way, I know their taste, where they're coming from and their level of writing skills.

This is what I do also.

But I've never heard someone say "a little too YA" when they're betaing a YA book. It doesn't make sense haha.

missesdash
08-17-2011, 10:17 PM
Well I don't want to pester her because I'm grateful she made the effort. Ive had three other beta readers and they all commented that the voice was the strongest part about it.

The comment about the melodrama could be relevant. As it's something I've wondered myself.

She also said she was really sorry, which made it seem like reading my MS was something she wanted to do but just COULDN'T haha.

I send out a pretty specific set of guide questions. And some people begin to answer them before they even finish.so I guess this was just a bad beta experience.

Mharvey
08-17-2011, 10:49 PM
Without reading anything more than an excerpt you posted awhile back, the only thing I can think of that your critter may have meant is it comes off a little too edgy. The idea of suicide as a means to get high is radical. Personally, I love it, and I think with your fantasy element, you explain it well enough. It just becomes a matter of taste at that point.

"Too YA" is not a critique though, and even offering that as one definitely should send warning bells off that this critter isn't very knowledgeable of the genre and what you've written just isn't their cup of tea.

Okay, here's my first "insecure writer" thread.

I just had a beta tell me she stopped reading because my style was "a little too" YA.

What.does.that.mean.

Is this something I should work on? Is it a bad thing or a matter of taste?

Rhoda Nightingale
08-17-2011, 11:03 PM
Well I don't want to pester her because I'm grateful she made the effort. Ive had three other beta readers and they all commented that the voice was the strongest part about it.

One of the things an early workshop leader told me that I've never forgotten is this: When you get feedback on your work, you will get roughly a third that's very helpful and really knows what they're talking about, another third who loves everything and will tell you you're awesome no matter what, and another third who just isn't in your target audience that you can completely ignore.

I think you know where this beta falls in that lineup. Don't sweat it. She liked everything about it except the YA-ness, and since it's a YA story, I don't think that's a real problem. (Well, just based on what you've told us, obviously.)

amyashley
08-17-2011, 11:26 PM
I have tried to help several people get helpful crit and they found my advice useful, so I'll see what I can do.

Most of the people here have told you that this beta is basically not helping you out. Say thanks and don't use her or advise another to do so.

TO FIND SOMEONE ELSE:

1: Offer to swap. Always be willing to do what you ask. State the exact state of your MS as in what stage of work it is in (how many edits etc.). State if you have grammar problems. Don't accept anyone who has anything less than what you have. Don't get crit from non-writers.

2. State what you want. PRECISELY. a) line by line crit b) plot, character, theme analysis c) grammar help d) general feelings (a line or two, a paragraph, a page, ten pages) e) any combination of the above. BE WILLING TO RETURN EXACTLY WHAT YOU GET.

3. State a preferred time frame to work in and an absolute deadline.

4. Exchange 5-10 written pages (BOTH WAYS) for the two of you to crit first. This can be either the work you will be having them read or something else. This is to gauge their crit style AND their writing prowess. If they are not of the same caliber writer you are (or close) DO NOT EXCHANGE WORK. If you are unhappy with the crit, same.

5. Exchange with several people. TELL THEM you are shopping for a beta and will let everyone know in X days who (pick a few!) you have selected. If you need help, let me know and I'll bump my old thread on this that helped a bunch of people and it might give you some ideas about how to do this.

6. BE OPEN TO WRITERS IN OTHER GENRES. Some of my best crit partners don't write in my genre. They read it often enough to know what to look for, so that is okay. You want a beta to be a good WRITER with a good critical eye, not a great lover of all things YA.

thebloodfiend
08-17-2011, 11:32 PM
I've gotten this type of feedback too. When I asked for clarification, I found that it was more of a genre preference.

cscarlet
08-18-2011, 07:09 AM
*facepalm*

Does she not like the voice, perhaps?

KTC
08-18-2011, 07:17 AM
That's the thing. I'm worries it was a nice way to say something that would have been more helpful. It says specifically:

"First of all, I think you have some great imagery, your characters are interesting and you have an amazing imagination. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what it is about the story, I just can't get into reading the whole thing. I think maybe it's because the flavor might be a little too YA"

Okay someone help me extract useful criticism from this.


Sounds like the beta reader doesn't like YA. That would be like someone asking me to read their science fiction manuscript. I'd say, "It's a little too Sci-Fi for me to finish it". NOT because it's no good, but because it's not what I read. Maybe post a request here at AW in the beta section...to see if you can match up with someone who reads YA.

missesdash
08-18-2011, 07:34 AM
I actually found her on AW. She was in the willing beta readers section. I've gotten all but one of my betas here, actually.

The thing is that when I agree to beta, I finish the book even if I lose interest. But I don't expect others to do that, it is a free service. Beggars can't be choosers, so I hear.

Jehhillenberg
08-18-2011, 07:38 AM
Yeah, misses I'm the same way. I like to finish what I start...unless it's excruciating. But I'm always moving on to the next thing.

Fruitbat
08-18-2011, 08:46 AM
She said she quit reading because she had lost interest. The YA comment sounded like it was just a throwaway guess as to why, "I dunno, maybe the reason I lost interest was because..."

I would ask if she could tell you more about why she had lost interest, instead of focusing on what seemed a groping attempt to answer that question herself. And honestly, if it was me, I would much rather receive a private email than to discover my comment had been made the subject of a thread, even if not mentioned by name.

Here is just one quick link on what might make a book boring (different genre but still applicable). Perhaps if you sent her a list of common reasons she'd be able to identify it better. Sometimes we lose interest and if not an experienced critter, are not quite sure why. After all, you can't really decide what to do with a comment when it's not clear what the comment even means.

http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30476

ETA: One more thing, after seeing some of the later comments, I wonder if she meant she found it offensive or inappropriate for YA. Some people seem to have strong opinions on that. *shrug*

missesdash
08-18-2011, 09:45 AM
I wasn't sure if it was considered rude to discuss critiques. But I've seen others do it here, so I figured it wasn't a problem.

No need to go all bold text on me :D. I just thought the "too YA" comment was interesting and wanted to see what others thought.

Fruitbat
08-18-2011, 11:01 AM
"Going all anything" on you would be all caps (shouting), the bolding is just for emphasis, highlight. And, yeah, I think it is always best to go to that person if you have an issue with them, especially if they have beta read for you.

katiemac
08-18-2011, 07:41 PM
Locking this thread. I don't think it's necessarily problematic to talk about beta experiences on the board, but it's inappropriate to openly quote and critique pieces of a conversation that was supposed to be private between writer and beta, especially when the beta is also a member of the board. If you require further explanation, you can continue a (private) discussion with the beta.