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cmi0616
06-08-2014, 12:01 AM
One of my friends posted this article (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/06/against_ya_adults_should_be_embarrassed_to_read_ch ildren_s_books.2.html) on Facebook and received many critical comments from other users.

I know that when I've expressed similar views in conversation with friends, I've been told that I hadn't read enough in the genre (which may be true, although I have read lots of the books they've recommended), that adult/"literary" fiction is overrated, and that I was being narrow-minded or childish.

YA is popular, I think, as it never was before, and so this seems to be something worth talking about. What are your opinions, AW?

benbradley
06-08-2014, 12:07 AM
Isn't there already another thread on that article?

ETA: here it is:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=291274

gothicangel
06-08-2014, 12:46 AM
I posted on the other thread, but I'll repeat it again. Enjoying YA and enjoying literary fiction are not mutually exclusive. I loved Meg Rosoff, Neil Gaiman as well as older children's fiction writers (Rosemary Sutcliff, Robert Louis Stevenson.) I have an English BA, and I am not ashamed to say YA sits comfortable alongside my copies of Wolf Hall, The Luminaries and I, Claudius. I actually think Sutcliff remains the best author of Roman HF, none of the contemporary adult writers can touch her.

My last words will go to Robert Louis Stevenson (Author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Jekyll and Hyde, and The South Sea Tales) "Anyone who has not imagined being on a pirate ship, has never been a child." (From a letter to Henry James, who said a similar thing as Graham, and became a close friend to Stevenson.)

Samsonet
06-08-2014, 12:47 AM
Anyone who wants to shame adults for reading YA would have more success herding cats.

jari_k
06-08-2014, 02:05 AM
As children, many of us were placed in categories solely based on age. Individuality and ability were not considered. If we read too well, or chose books above our assumed reading level, we were weird. It was frowned upon by the adults in charge, and not understood by most of our peers.

Many of us were sold the idea that we had to have the same sort of haircut, wear the same styles, and it was understood we'd only listen to music marketed to people in our particular age group.

Those of us who didn't conform in every way were weird. One of the perks of adulthood is a marked decrease in peer pressure. People can tell us we're too young or too old to do this and that, and we're free to laugh that idea off. And we do.

Roxxsmom
06-08-2014, 02:05 AM
I'd guess this person doesn't think too highly of genre fiction as a whole either. I think he/she fails to grasp the reasons an adult might read fiction aimed at younger readers.

--Not all YA is mainstream/contemporary fiction dealing with high school and first love. There is YA historic, SF/F etc.
--In SF and F, sometimes YA is cross shelved with adult fiction in the genre.
--Adults who write YA fiction should also read it.
--Not all YA fiction ends as simplistically or joyously as the article's author seems to think.
--Writing from the "deep" pov of the character as he or she is in the story's "now" is a powerful technique that is not limited to YA.
--YA fiction often does have a message, even when it doesn't beat the reader over the head with it.
--Teenagers may not be full adults, but they're not really children either. A lot of adults forget this, and reading stuff written from a teen's perspective can be good for their empathy. Anyone with kids of their own should read literature aimed at young people now and then.
--What's wrong with feeling a little nostalgic sometimes and wanting to revisit some of your childhood or teenage hood favorites?
--I'm guessing most adults who read YA also read fiction targeting more adult demographics.
--Why is it any of the author's business what other people read?

shelleyo
06-08-2014, 02:43 AM
The polite version of my response: I think it's incredibly arrogant to decide what someone else ought to be reading.

The non-polite version just involves cursing and gestures.

Filigree
06-08-2014, 02:56 AM
YA is a new and rather artificial genre construct. Lots of the books I still love to re-read are considered YA now, but were not when they were published.

Whatever. I read what I like. My reading list is eclectic enough that I don't feel guilty about any one genre.

Roxxsmom
06-08-2014, 03:40 AM
The very best take home message from that piece is that readers shouldn't limit themselves to one type of story or genre. To be honest, I don't know very many people who are readers who do this over the course of their lifetimes. I think the bigger issue is the relatively high percentage of people who don't read for pleasure at all.

This article gave me a sense of deja vu, however. Seems like it's come up before, somehow. Oh yeah, two years ago, Joel Stein wrote this for the NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/28/the-power-of-young-adult-fiction/adults-should-read-adult-books

And the issue has been discussed and debated since.

http://www.malindalo.com/2013/09/unpacking-why-adults-read-young-adult-fiction/

Carrie in PA
06-08-2014, 04:06 AM
The polite version of my response: I think it's incredibly arrogant to decide what someone else ought to be reading.

The non-polite version just involves cursing and gestures.

^ This.

jjdebenedictis
06-08-2014, 04:44 AM
I don't read as a character-building exercise. I read for entertainment.

And if I'm entertained, then the judge-y people can go get stuffed. :D

Liosse de Velishaf
06-08-2014, 05:20 AM
Maybe someone should ask a mod to merge this thread with the one in the YA section?

Terie
06-08-2014, 11:54 AM
Maybe someone should ask a mod to merge this thread with the one in the YA section?

I think the subject is better suited to the wider audience of the Roundtable, since many readers of YA don't necessarily write it and therefore don't hang out in the YA forum. (Meaning that if merged, I hope the thread ends up in Roundtable. Not that they shouldn't be merged. :))

And I'm with those who think that telling other people what they should and shouldn't read is a ridiculous exercise in pomposity.

Kylabelle
06-08-2014, 12:29 PM
Thanks, Liosse and Terie. I haven't heard from my co-mod Torgo on this, but speaking just for myself I agree that it's a good discussion for Roundtable, and is one that can well happen in two places with different focuses. Meaning, it seems apropos for it to also be in YA where it originally appeared.

On topic, my first reaction to the suggestion that adults should "feel ashamed" for reading anything at all is, basically, "Huh?" I mean, even children's books can be an utter delight.

And I also wonder if there is some motive in this to encourage (via shame?) readers to read more in other genres and in more "serious" literature, etc., out of a perhaps misplaced notion of competing for finite audience shares or the like.

As well, article writers pitch to markets and markets (magazine editors I suppose) pick up pitches -- or contract for articles they themselves conceive of -- based on what they think readers will pay attention to, right? So I suspect some of this kind of thing is an attempt to stir up a little controversy over whatever works for that.

In any case, I can't find it in me to take the actual suggestion (about what I, or we, should read) at all seriously. In general my reaction is, "hands off my reading choices! They're mine and none of your business to try to direct."

NRoach
06-08-2014, 12:29 PM
I know that when I see "YA", my eyes roll of their own accord.
The entire idea behind it annoys me. It suggests that teenagers require their own, watered down, class of literature, because they're teenagers; alternatively, that teenagers can only deal with books centred around other teenagers.

My current WIP is YA by virtue of the MCs being teens, but woe is he that calls it so.

Edit: Shame for reading it, though? Hardly; I'll respect your right to partake of what you will, if you'll respect my right to scoff at it in private.

Terie
06-08-2014, 01:57 PM
My current WIP is YA by virtue of the MCs being teens, ....

Actually, no. MCs being teens is not what makes a story YA. There are plenty of books whose MCs are teens but are not YA; Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone and Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy are some that leap immediately to mind.

If you think the distinction is this simplistic, you might need to learn more about what YA is... and isn't.

I also can't imagine why you're so dismissive of a category for a target age group whose life challenges are so very different from those faced by younger and older age groups.

Finally, if your story really is YA, you're going to have a hard time making a deal with an agent or publisher if you refuse to let it be called what it is.

NRoach
06-08-2014, 03:01 PM
Actually, no. MCs being teens is not what makes a story YA. There are plenty of books whose MCs are teens but are not YA; Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone and Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy are some that leap immediately to mind.

If you think the distinction is this simplistic, you might need to learn more about what YA is... and isn't.

I also can't imagine why you're so dismissive of a category for a target age group whose life challenges are so very different from those faced by younger and older age groups.

Finally, if your story really is YA, you're going to have a hard time making a deal with an agent or publisher if you refuse to let it be called what it is.

I meant that it's YA in the sense that it has teenage MCs, not that it is YA because it has teenage MCs, if that makes any sense. As in, it could be argued to be YA because of that, but it isn't in actuality.
That was bad phrasing on my part.

As for my dismissal, I'm not entirely sure that teenagers do face life challenges all that different to other age groups. Even if, I'm not sure why those challenges need anything to do with the books people are reading.
But then, I've never really understood searching for stuff to which one can relate over other stuff.

folkchick
06-08-2014, 03:43 PM
Last year while querying my YA contemporary I had an agent tell me she liked the concept but the writing itself wasn't hyper-intellectualized like John Green (who at last glance had three books on the New York Times best seller list). It hurt. But my point is, the YA market is huge right now because there are so many adults reading it, and I guess they're doing so because the genre is more accessible and from the heart. I like reading it. I like writing it. There's nothing to be ashamed of. But damn John Green. Damn him all to hell.

NeuroFizz
06-08-2014, 05:30 PM
I think Uncle Jim as made the statement repeatedly that genre categories are mostly for shelf-organization by booksellers, and it comes around to target audience more from that perspective. One adult draw of YA writing is experiential. Every adult on this planet was a teenager and younger adult. That means the experiences of that time are frequently etched in the very being of those adults. Any author who can successfully tap into some of the common or understandable aspects of the younger adult lives may well hold a significant appeal to older adults of any age. Also, since escapism is part of reading for many, couple that escapism with the experience of one's younger life, and it's easy to see why YA is not just for young adults.


And anyone who takes a squinting "pinky in the air" view of YA literature should explain to me why all of the serious newspapers in this country still publish a daily comics page.

Xelebes
06-08-2014, 08:01 PM
I don't read YA. Doesn't interest me. Though I do wonder about those who are interested. What are they up to? Why are they taking my Hollywood? Why are they taking my bookstore?

Jamesaritchie
06-08-2014, 08:10 PM
It absolutely pisses me off to no end when someone says that good, satisfying endings aren't realistic or "adult". It's a pseudo-literary, pseudo-intellectual, on my God aren't I the great realist son of a buck notion.

I'm all for unhappy, or less than complete, endings, but they are no more realistic, and certainly no more literary than a happy, satisfying ending.

A few months ago I read the very literary novel Submergence (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1566893194/?tag=slatmaga-20), which ends with a death so shattering it’s been rattling around in my head ever since.

Literary, my ass. If submergence is literary, then God save me from ever reading another literary novel. It's a poorly written novel, and teh only thing "literary" about it is precisely what is stated in the above sentence, a death at the end.

When did unhappy endings, death, and destruction become the mark of a literary novel?

And "escapism"? This is just one more silly statement by those who want to appear all grown up and literary. What they need to do is escape from the tiny confines of their own pitiful lives and ideas.

And this is truly stupid: But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Shailene Woodley, the 22-year-old star of this weekend’s big YA-based film. “Last year, when I made Fault, I could still empathize with adolescence,” she told (http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/shailene-woodley-brie-larson-women-in-hollywood.html) New York magazine this week, explaining why she is finished making teenage movies. “But I’m not a young adult anymore—I’m a woman.”

She may be a woman, but what she's feeling is not adulthood. She's simply reached that age where she thinks being an adult means she's now above emphasizing with teens. She has a huge, huge surprise coming. Right now she's simply between milk and meat, and doesn't realize what she's feeling is the opposite of being an adult.

Dumb article, dumb sentiments start to finish, and everything that's wrong with so much of today's fiction is summed up perfectly by the attitudes expressed within it.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-08-2014, 09:20 PM
I know that when I see "YA", my eyes roll of their own accord.
The entire idea behind it annoys me. It suggests that teenagers require their own, watered down, class of literature, because they're teenagers; alternatively, that teenagers can only deal with books centred around other teenagers.

It's a marketing category. It is not watered down, or lesser literature. It's just a marketing category. And many, many people who love YA are perfectly happy to read other categories of literature.


My current WIP is YA by virtue of the MCs being teens, but woe is he that calls it so.

Well, if it fits the category, then I don't see why it shouldn't be called that. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.


Edit: Shame for reading it, though? Hardly; I'll respect your right to partake of what you will, if you'll respect my right to scoff at it in private.

I respect your right to have that opinion, but that doesn't mean I respect your opinion itself. It seems clear to me from your comments that you haven't read much recent YA, and really don't know much about what it's really about.

Which is fine. No one has to read anything just because someone else says so. But to start at that place of ignorance, and then "scoff" at people who read and write YA, many of whom are on the forum and incredible people and writers, seems a bit ridiculous.

Hapax Legomenon
06-08-2014, 09:32 PM
I agree that YA is definitely a genre and that merely having teenage protagonists does not make something YA. It took a long time to figure out that I write a lot with young protagonists that is definitely not YA.

I do feel like YA lacks something that I enjoy reading. When I pick up any kind of fantasy/sf I expect more wonder, more exploration, and less internal drama. When I pick up a historical romance or whatever I am okay with the internal drama. YA is very, very internal drama heavy which is why a lot of the times I can't stand it. But I guess that's something a lot of people are looking for... so from my perspective YA and literary fiction tend to have the same problem, and why a jump from MG to adult literature is easier for me than the majority of YA.

folkchick
06-08-2014, 09:55 PM
I think the main thing for everyone to realize is, the YA genre is about teens, not necessarily for them. That means anyone and everyone should read it, if they so choose. It's non-exclusive, and just as valid a genre as any other.

KateSmash
06-08-2014, 10:20 PM
*twitch* YA IS NOT A GENRE. :Soapbox: It is a category that contains just about every genre of novel (sans erotica obviously) that has a few (very few) hallmarks that tailor it to its target market. BUT IT IS NOT A GENRE UNTO ITSELF.

folkchick
06-08-2014, 10:34 PM
Glad to learn. Thanks.

Lillith1991
06-08-2014, 10:48 PM
*twitch* YA IS NOT A GENRE. :Soapbox: It is a category that contains just about every genre of novel (sans erotica obviously) that has a few (very few) hallmarks that tailor it to its target market. BUT IT IS NOT A GENRE UNTO ITSELF.

Thank you, Kate! A YA Horror, SFF, Mystery etc. novel is still first and foremost a novel of it's genre. A horror novel is still a horror novel whether YA/NA or adult. It is who the novel is geared towards that changes, not the basic genre itself.

As for adults reading it? I'm 23 and I don't really read it, but I didn't read a lot of it when I was the age being targeted to read it either. I'd of rather, and did instead read Jane Austen and Shakespear. In fact even adult romances were more common in my reading diet then YA was as a teen. It's just what interested and continues to interest me more, even though I read more YA now then when I was younger.

If an adult wants to read it, there's no shame in it to me. I do find it worrying if someone reads it exclusively, but only in the same way I find someone reading purely traditional Scifi, Mystery, or any other genre is. And that is because I find insisting you will never and could never find something you like outside a certain genre/catagorey disturbing. Often times the people insisting that have never even tried, and the refusual to even attempt to expand what's available to you is what disturbs me.

I read YA. I also read in pretty much most of the adult genres as well. Everything from Anne Rice to Shakespear. I personally couldn't say I hate all books in a certain genre and won't read them.

Roxxsmom
06-09-2014, 12:15 AM
It absolutely pisses me off to no end when someone says that good, satisfying endings aren't realistic or "adult". It's a pseudo-literary, pseudo-intellectual, on my God aren't I the great realist son of a buck notion.



Well, romance (an adult genre) requires a HEA or HFN ending for the couple in question. Yes, pretty much everyone who doesn't read romance sneers at it, but that doesn't stop it from being the most popular genre by far.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-09-2014, 12:17 AM
I don't read YA. Doesn't interest me. Though I do wonder about those who are interested. What are they up to? Why are they taking my Hollywood? Why are they taking my bookstore?


Because we can. :tongue

Roxxsmom
06-09-2014, 12:18 AM
It absolutely pisses me off to no end when someone says that good, satisfying endings aren't realistic or "adult". It's a pseudo-literary, pseudo-intellectual, on my God aren't I the great realist son of a buck notion.



Well, romance (an adult genre, though there can be YA titles that are also romances) requires a HEA or HFN ending for the couple in question. Yes, pretty much everyone who doesn't read romance sneers at it, but that doesn't stop it from being the most popular genre by far.


*twitch* YA IS NOT A GENRE. :Soapbox: It is a category that contains just about every genre of novel (sans erotica obviously) that has a few (very few) hallmarks that tailor it to its target market. BUT IT IS NOT A GENRE UNTO ITSELF.

This is absolutely correct as well. It's a marketing demographic, not a genre. A novel can be a YA fantasy or SF, a YA mystery, a YA romance, a YA historic, a YA mainstream/contemporary etc.

Beachgirl
06-09-2014, 02:25 AM
Well, romance (an adult genre) requires a HEA or HFN ending for the couple in question. Yes, pretty much everyone who doesn't read romance sneers at it, but that doesn't stop it from being the most popular genre by far.

Yep. And readers and writers of romance have been dealing with the holier-than-thou literary snobs for decades. YA is just the shiny newcomer for them to look down upon.

Personally, I don't know how the literary elitists can tolerate the lightheadedness as they stand on their pedestals, what with all the nosebleeds they must suffer at that altitude.

Roxxsmom
06-09-2014, 04:36 AM
Ah, well, people have been sniping at one another for their literary tastes for a long time, and you're right, the YA demographic is new enough (and by all appearances quite successful) that it's a convenient target.

At some point, I realized that people who get all disapproving and holier than thou about the behavior and choices of others, when such don't affect them, tend to be afraid that it will affect them. When it happens re literary tastes, the sneerers probably worried that the kind of stuff they like to read and write will get harder to find and to sell. I understand this worry, but hopefully it's unfounded. Just because I'm sitting next to you on a plane reading a YA fantasy title (though haha, it's on my e-reader, so you can't tell) this week, doesn't mean I wasn't reading a title by Margaret Atwood or Alice Walker last week or something else more adult next week.

Dave.C.Robinson
06-09-2014, 05:08 AM
I don't read YA; most of what I've seen recently doesn't interest me.

I'm not fond of dystopias, reading about growing up, or the present tense. I find teen vampire romances particularly annoying.

If somebody else wants to read it, that's none of my business. I care what my daughter reads, and I'm interested in what her mother reads, but for the rest of the world, I just don't care.

I hope they enjoy whatever they're reading, but that's very much an abstract hope.

What someone reads is their own business, not mine.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-09-2014, 05:19 AM
There's nothing in any genre or category that makes it any more or less likely to be inherently better or worse than any other genre or category.

benbradley
06-09-2014, 06:30 AM
I'd comment on the content of this thread, but someone's bound to call me a Juvenile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podkayne_of_Mars).

Torgo
06-09-2014, 12:53 PM
Thanks, Liosse and Terie. I haven't heard from my co-mod Torgo on this, but speaking just for myself I agree that it's a good discussion for Roundtable, and is one that can well happen in two places with different focuses. Meaning, it seems apropos for it to also be in YA where it originally appeared.

Sorry! Yes, this feels fine to have this here too. Carry on! Though - cmi0616 - perhaps edit the thread title so that it's a bit more descriptive?

Roxxsmom
06-09-2014, 01:14 PM
I wonder how the person who wrote that article feels about lists like these?

http://www.businessinsider.com/kids-books-adults-should-read-2014-2?op=1

http://flavorwire.com/434697/25-ya-novels-everyone-even-adults-should-read

http://www.buzzfeed.com/pipsicle/24-childrens-and-young-adult-books-everyone-shoul-aoev

SomethingOrOther
06-09-2014, 02:29 PM
I'd comment on the content of this thread, but someone's bound to call me a Juvenile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podkayne_of_Mars).

Do it.

I disagree with the author's points but think they warrant little more than a "lol you" — responding with an emotionally charged rebuttal is falling prey to what is clearly a troll attempt.

I also disagree that it is wrong, in general, to be snooty or dismissive of others' tastes and opinions and behaviors when they don't affect us. I only have a problem with such snootiness when it is directed at tastes and opinions and behaviors that I approve of (the reading and enjoyment of YA fiction is among those).

NRoach
06-09-2014, 03:56 PM
Do it.

I disagree with the author's points but think they warrant little more than a "lol you" — responding with an emotionally charged rebuttal is falling prey to what is clearly a troll attempt.

I also disagree that it is wrong, in general, to be snooty or dismissive of others' tastes and opinions and behaviors when they don't affect us. I only have a problem with such snootiness when it is directed at tastes and opinions and behaviors that I approve of (the reading and enjoyment of YA fiction is among those).

I don't think this is clearly a troll attempt.

SomethingOrOther
06-09-2014, 04:06 PM
Of course you don't.

Kylabelle
06-09-2014, 04:08 PM
Okay, let's dial that back please.

Torgo
06-09-2014, 04:35 PM
I also disagree that it is wrong, in general, to be snooty or dismissive of others' tastes and opinions and behaviors when they don't affect us. I only have a problem with such snootiness when it is directed at tastes and opinions and behaviors that I approve of (the reading and enjoyment of YA fiction is among those).

I'm sure you must have written this with some ironic intent, but just in case you didn't, let's be clear that I'm not going to be very tolerant of snootiness or dismissiveness in this room.

I didn't find the article in question to be (a) trolling or (b) particularly obnoxious in tone. Reasonable people can disagree about the content, I think. (I would be one who would disagree with the content of the article.)

NRoach
06-09-2014, 04:43 PM
Of course you don't.

I'd be wary of judging things to be troll attempts for no reason beyond the presented opinion differing from mine.

SomethingOrOther
06-09-2014, 04:46 PM
I'm sure you must have written this with some ironic intent ...

I didn't.



... (I would be one who would disagree with the content of the article.)

I'd be another.


I'd be wary of judging things to be troll attempts for no reason beyond the presented opinion differing from mine.

Misjudgment on your part.

Kylabelle
06-09-2014, 04:47 PM
I don't think this is clearly a troll attempt.

I agree, it is not a troll attempt. I posted upthread my guesses about why this article (and others of its kind) are generated.

Just because we bridle at someone telling us what we ought not to enjoy (and I dig my heels in at that too), there's no reason to make accusations of trolling.

folkchick
06-09-2014, 04:48 PM
I'm actually surprised no one's touched on the all caps reply I received complete with pissed-off assholic graphic. I mean, big girl panties an all that, but holy frick it annoyed the hell out of me to get a response like that when all I had done was state my point in a rational manner.

Kylabelle
06-09-2014, 04:48 PM
I didn't.



I'd be another.



Misjudgment on your part.

You're welcome to your opinions, but dial it back in this thread.

SomethingOrOther
06-09-2014, 05:03 PM
I'm actually surprised no one's touched on the all caps reply I received complete with pissed-off assholic graphic. I mean, big girl panties an all that, but holy frick it annoyed the hell out of me to get a response like that when all I had done was state my point in a rational manner.

The lack of a response might owe itself to the fact that ALL-CAPS paired with the soapbox smiley is a combination very much like Comic Sans — it might be hard for some to interpret such posts as hostile. Plus it seemed like a comment born of frustration (YA as a genre is a common confusion, afaik), not ill will. I do empathize with your annoyance, however.

J.S.F.
06-09-2014, 05:06 PM
FWIW, Ms. Graham is entitled to her opinion.

Mine is that she can kiss my yatabeh.:tongue

Reading YA, for me, is an adventure. If she--or anyone else for that matter--considers it juvenile or unbecoming or anything else, let it be known that it is my decision, my life, and not hers to control or dictate to. I suspect she never had much of a childhood, but that's only supposition and I have no proof.

For me, why not indulge in some escapism once in a while? The Romance Genre, as someone pointed out, is very popular, and that's pure escapism to me. (I'm not interested in the Romance type of books, but would never tell anyone not to read them). YA is also escapism in a way (or it can be, depending on what type of YA it is), but the only difference is the target audience and the age it's (generally) intended for.

I read what I like, and have copies of YA novels at home and stored on my computer along with the classics. If it's good, I read it. /rant

folkchick
06-09-2014, 05:10 PM
SomethingOrOther, I appreciate your empathy. All I want is a rambo graphic to punch the crap outta the soapbox graphic. I'd enjoy that.

Hapax Legomenon
06-09-2014, 05:48 PM
Shrug, it didn't change my mind about YA being a genre. It fits the definition of "genre".

Torgo
06-09-2014, 06:02 PM
I'm actually surprised no one's touched on the all caps reply I received complete with pissed-off assholic graphic. I mean, big girl panties an all that, but holy frick it annoyed the hell out of me to get a response like that when all I had done was state my point in a rational manner.

Sorry, took me a minute to work out what you were referring to.

I think KateSmash's smiley and indeed whole tone was intended to be tongue-in-cheek (right?) As in, it's a soapbox-y hobby-horse that is a pet peeve for her, hence the slight hyperbole, the *twitch* etc?

FWIW I don't think YA is a genre (because you can easily think of YA books that have literally nothing in common, content-wise, not to mention the existence of YA Horror, YA Romance, YA Thrillers etc.) But let's debate that on some other thread?

SomethingOrOther
06-09-2014, 06:05 PM
SomethingOrOther, I appreciate your empathy. All I want is a rambo graphic to punch the crap outta the soapbox graphic. I'd enjoy that.

You've discovered my secret guilty time-wasting pleasure.

http://i.imgur.com/jTNHqIY.gif

KateSmash
06-09-2014, 06:06 PM
I think KateSmash's smiley and indeed whole tone was intended to be tongue-in-cheek (right?) As in, it's a soapbox-y hobby-horse that is a pet peeve for her, hence the slight hyperbole, the *twitch* etc?

Precisely. Just one of those things you hear over and over that make your teeth itch (and was not in response to any one post/er since it's been said quite a few times).

But shadooping on out because my only opinion on the original article is "Meh, same old YA dismissing link bait we're used to."

Hapax Legomenon
06-09-2014, 06:15 PM
FWIW I don't think YA is a genre (because you can easily think of YA books that have literally nothing in common, content-wise, not to mention the existence of YA Horror, YA Romance, YA Thrillers etc.) But let's debate that on some other thread?

Does it need another thread?

Anyway that's a false premise. Genre is not a descriptor of content, it's a descriptor form, style, content, or etc. Note the "or."

For example replace "YA" with "epistolary". Epistolary is a form but the actual content of epistolary novels may have nothing to do with each other. However they are still undeniably all epistolary novels because what puts them together transcends content.

YA may be loosely defined but that does not mean that it's undefined. You could make a genre of "books with teenage protagonists" but as someone else has said merely having a teenage protagonist does not make a story YA. There is what most people think is a "je ne sais quoi" to YA but I'm pretty sure that "je ne sais quoi" is a tight POV to a teenage character and having some teenage problems (or teenage problems writ large, as a bildugsroman fantasy story) as central issues in the plot/theme. It may be an artificially created genre by publishers but the fact that agents have requested writers to make manuscripts more YA-like says that there are things that make a manuscript YA or not YA, making it a genre.

folkchick
06-09-2014, 06:18 PM
SomethingOrOther, thank you. Thank you very much. That satisfied.

Torgo
06-09-2014, 06:24 PM
Does it need another thread?

Eh, maybe, maybe not. Let's see! Can always split stuff out.


Anyway that's a false premise. Genre is not a descriptor of content, it's a descriptor form, style, content, or etc. Note the "or."

I'd argue genre defines a set (often a fuzzy set) of expectations about content. Thus there's a generic expectation that a mystery novel should contain some kind of crime and an investigator of that crime; that it should set out to operate something like a puzzle for the reader to become involved in; that it should play fair in certain ways. (Of course, you can write genre novels that deliberately play with those expectations...)


For example replace "YA" with "epistolary". Epistolary is a form but the actual content of epistolary novels may have nothing to do with each other. However they are still undeniably all epistolary novels because what puts them together transcends content.

Sure, fine. Where we would disagree would be if you were to call epistolary novels a genre. I'd say it was a form, not a genre. Equally, YA is not (IMHO) a form or a genre but a category.


the fact that agents have requested writers to make manuscripts more YA-like says that there are things that make a manuscript YA or not YA, making it a genre.

I have more sympathy with this observation, but again, it feels to me like they aren't strictly genre elements, somehow?

Hapax Legomenon
06-09-2014, 06:49 PM
Wikipedia, Princeton, AbeBooks and others describe epistolary as a genre so I feel pretty comfortable calling it that. However it's pretty straight-forward to tell if a work is epistolary or not so it may not be a good comparison.

Probably a better comparison to YA is actually "literary." The literary genre may or may not be artificially induced by publishers and its definition is equally vague (what ties them together seems to be an attempt at profundity and artistic prose but not much else) and yet it's still widely considered a genre.

If YA books were simply books with teenage protagonists, then it would be a genre. However there is something that makes some books with teenage protagonists YA and something that doesn't. I don't believe that picking up some books as YA or trying to make some manuscripts YAer before publishing is totally random, which it would have to be if it wasn't a genre.

Medievalist
06-09-2014, 07:24 PM
Where we would disagree would be if you were to call epistolary novels a genre. I'd say it was a form, not a genre. Equally, YA is not (IMHO) a form or a genre but a category.

Epistolary novels, bildungsroman, picaresque, romance, SF, thriller etc.

These are all genres; they are formally classified as such by academic studies, library classifications (BL and CNL and LOC), to the point where there are dissertations on them as genres.

YA is a category that in fact contains epistolary, bildungsroman, picaresque, romance, SF, thriller, etc.

Epistolary novels are considered a genre rather than merely a form because the conventions of the novel as a form override those of the letter or diary—for instance, the use of chapters, and of an omniscient narrator whose narration interrupts the letters and other documents—this is a characteristic that Richardson's Pamela, Clarissa, and more modern works.

Note that most epistolary novels include more than letters interspersed with the narrator's intrusions, for instance, diaries, news paper excerpts, recipes, and obituaries are all used.

YA, like children's or literary fiction, is a category that subsumes genres. Just as there are mysteries, romances, and SF in YA, there are multiples genres represented in the categories of literary fiction, or children's literature.

Torgo
06-09-2014, 07:39 PM
Epistolary novels are considered a genre rather than merely a form because the conventions of the novel as a form override those of the letter or diary—for instance, the use of chapters, and of an omniscient narrator whose narration interrupts the letters and other documents—this is a characteristic that Richardson's Pamela, Clarissa, and more modern works.

Interesting. Happy to concede the point!

Liosse de Velishaf
06-09-2014, 09:05 PM
I think it's worth pointing out that genre can be used in more than one sense.

People often refer to short stories, novels, poems, etc as genres. You can also use the term genre to refer to epistolary novels, etc. But I would argue that the epistolary novel is not a genre in a comparable sense to science fiction or romance as a genre, and that may be where some of the confusion arises.

Most people talking about genres in a publishing context tend to mean SF, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Thriller in my experience. That's a group of "genres". Epistolary novels belong to another group of genres. And technically, YA could be considered a "genre" in some senses, but people in publishing tend to refer to it as a "category" in order to distinguish between the use of genre referring to Fantasy, and the use of genre referring to MG/YA/NA/Adult.

That's the distinction I personally make in this area, and I think it is a useful one. Other people are free to disagree.

Hapax Legomenon
06-09-2014, 10:11 PM
Again, the fact that there are books with teenage protagonists that are published as not YA, and the fact that there are apparently ways to make a book 'sound' more YA, points to it being a genre. It's not a genre based strictly on content or plot elements like SFF or mystery, but it has to be one because these agents and publishers are not waving around in the dark when they do this. And from what I've read, YA, as a genre, seems to be defined mostly by how the viewpoint, and to a lesser extent prose, is handled. I'm not saying there's no such thing as YA SFF or YA thriller or something but that by putting all the books together on a shelf, bookstores and libraries and publishers are doing more than compiling a list of books that they think teenagers would like.

Lillith1991
06-09-2014, 11:51 PM
Again, the fact that there are books with teenage protagonists that are published as not YA, and the fact that there are apparently ways to make a book 'sound' more YA, points to it being a genre. It's not a genre based strictly on content or plot elements like SFF or mystery, but it has to be one because these agents and publishers are not waving around in the dark when they do this. And from what I've read, YA, as a genre, seems to be defined mostly by how the viewpoint, and to a lesser extent prose, is handled. I'm not saying there's no such thing as YA SFF or YA thriller or something but that by putting all the books together on a shelf, bookstores and libraries and publishers are doing more than compiling a list of books that they think teenagers would like.

The fact that it includes other groupings like Thrillers, Mysteries, Horror, SFF, Romance etc. points to it being a catergory. People may use genre to also mean category, but that doesn't make them the same thing. And you know what? That's ok with me. Not everything needs to be a genre, some things can be a category. I'm perfectly fine with that.

Hapax Legomenon
06-10-2014, 12:25 AM
The point is that YA fiction is grouped together based on certain content and stylistic features.

Weirdmage
06-10-2014, 02:22 AM
The point is that YA fiction is grouped together based on certain content and stylistic features.

I am far from an expert in YA, but I have read enough YA to say without a doubt that you cannot say if a book is YA based on content and/or style. A clue to what YA is lies in the fact that a lot of SFF that was written for, and previously marketed to, the adult market segment has been rebranded as YA after the success of Harry Potter and Twilight. There is also a lot of SFF presently being published as YA that would have been published as adult SFF 15+ years ago.

YA may have started out as an age classification, but it is without a doubt a marketing category at this stage. (I would have liked it to stay as an age classification, but that ship has sailed years ago and there is no turning it back.) At the moment it is a category that sells very well, so many books are put into it. If YA falls out of fashion I would be very surprised if there wasn't a lot of books being rebranded as adult , or NA, or whatever category gets invented in the future.

Filigree
06-10-2014, 02:27 AM
What Weirdmage said. Lots of the books I loved in the seventies, eighties, and early nineties was published as general adult science-fiction or fantasy. Now they would be YA.

Hapax Legomenon
06-10-2014, 02:35 AM
New stuff is being written with these stylistic and content based features in mind. Old stuff is being reclassified based on them as well. It does not mean that these books do not have things in common. For example if people did not care whether there were non-real elements in their fiction or not, sf/f would not be a genre, either. All books in sf/f would be rebranded as "general". There are books that are sf/f that are in "general" anyway because of... well, reasons. Possibly not good reasons, but reasons. You could say the same thing about any genre. The books rebranded as YA always had the elements that are now considered YA but it is only now that it is considered important enough to make a big deal of those elements.

Really I'm confused as to why people are so defensive about this idea that YA books seem to have certain elements in common with each other. You can't just throw any book at an agent and label it as YA. Hell, you can't throw any book at an agent with a teenage protagonist and call it YA. There's more to it than that.

Lillith1991
06-10-2014, 02:54 AM
What Weirdmage said. Lots of the books I loved in the seventies, eighties, and early nineties was published as general adult science-fiction or fantasy. Now they would be YA.

This. A horror novel is a horror novel, whether it's YA or not. Same with any of the other genres a YA novel may fit into. No-one is being defensive, I an some others just feel it is a category and not a genre. To turn it around, why are you being defensive that it is a genre? What would be wrong with it being a category? It certainly wouldn't make it any less valid a form of novel if people see it as a category instead of a genre.

For example, I see literary as more of a category than a solid genre. You can have pretty much any other genre written with a literary style, horror, SFF, Romance etc. All if written for a certain audience and in a certain way can be literary. Others feel it is a completely separate genre, and I'm perfectly ok with that. If my views differ then they differ.

Hapax Legomenon
06-10-2014, 02:59 AM
This. A horror novel is a horror novel, whether it's YA or not. Same with any of the other genres a YA novel may fit into. No-one is being defensive, I an some others just feel it is a category and not a genre. To turn it around, why are you being defensive that it is a genre? What would be wrong with it being a category? It certainly wouldn't make it any less valid a form of novel if people see it as a category instead of a genre.

Because, considering the definition of genre and how many who study literature define genre, I find saying there's a difference between "category" and "genre" to be needless hairsplitting. Yes, I would consider MG a genre, and I would consider "adult" or "general" a genre as well, though perhaps it is more a genre of exclusion.

JustSarah
06-10-2014, 03:00 AM
I'm specifically thinking of Carrie, are there reasons that wasn't published as YA other than based on time period?

Weirdmage
06-10-2014, 03:02 AM
Really I'm confused as to why people are so defensive about this idea that YA books seem to have certain elements in common with each other. You can't just throw any book at an agent and label it as YA. Hell, you can't throw any book at an agent with a teenage protagonist and call it YA. There's more to it than that.

The problem is that you are trying to shoehorn a marketing category into a genre. There are elements that tend to be there in YA books, but there are YA books where those elements do not exist. In other words; there are so many exceptions to a genre YA classification that it is unworkable.
Lots of people have tried to make rules for using YA as a genre classification, it always comes down to one thing: YA is whatever is marketed as YA.

For me there is no defensiveness in YA not being a genre, it is just that it is factually incorrect.

Hapax Legomenon
06-10-2014, 03:02 AM
I'm specifically thinking of Carrie, are there reasons that wasn't published as YA other than based on time period?

I wouldn't know because I've never read it, but from what I've read of Stephen King I'd guess why I've never seen it reclassified is because of the voice. Stephen King seems kind of unsympathetic to his viewpoints. Of course there are other reasons... instead of reaching some kind of maturity the girl goes on a rampage, for example.

Horror genre is like SF/F in that there's a lot in there that is not YA despite featuring teenage protagonists.

Weirdmage
06-10-2014, 03:07 AM
I'm specifically thinking of Carrie, are there reasons that wasn't published as YA other than based on time period?

Carrie was written for an adult audience. It's as simple as that. -I could also add that I think in many, if not most, parts of the world it would be impossible to market (, and maybe even sell,) Carrie to people who are under the legal age to be considered as adult. (I think the shower scene alone would make it impossible to market as YA in the USA.)

Roxxsmom
06-10-2014, 03:51 AM
Carrie was written for an adult audience. It's as simple as that. -I could also add that I think in many, if not most, parts of the world it would be impossible to market (, and maybe even sell,) Carrie to people who are under the legal age to be considered as adult. (I think the shower scene alone would make it impossible to market as YA in the USA.)

There's racier and edgier stuff than that in US YA. Heck, even back in the 70s, there were novels aimed at teens (though not called YA back then specifically) that had sex in them. Forever by Judy Blume comes to mind.

The thing that makes Carrie more adult, I think, is that it's more a work of genre horror intended for a wider audience, and it's told in more of an adult/omniscient voice than the actual first person or deeper third pov of the teen protagonist.

shelleyo
06-10-2014, 04:56 AM
There's racier and edgier stuff than that in US YA. Heck, even back in the 70s, there were novels aimed at teens (though not called YA back then specifically) that had sex in them. Forever by Judy Blume comes to mind.

The thing that makes Carrie more adult, I think, is that it's more a work of genre horror intended for a wider audience, and it's told in more of an adult/omniscient voice than the actual first person or deeper third pov of the teen protagonist.

Sexual content isn't really the issue with Carrie. Have you read it? It's been years for me, but I do remember that Carrie, the teen protagonist, is abused throughout the story by just about everybody she encounters and dies horribly in the end after revenge-killing 400+ people. It's not YA. Older teens might read it, but it's not a story for teens. It's just a horror novel.

Medievalist
06-10-2014, 05:10 AM
Because, considering the definition of genre and how many who study literature define genre, I find saying there's a difference between "category" and "genre" to be needless hairsplitting.

Speaking as an academic, thank you for classifying two hundred years of genre studies as "needless hairsplitting."

A category subsumes genre. A category contains genres. An individual book can belong to more than one genre. This is not new, or even unusual.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an example of a bildungsroman and a picaresque; these are both genres. These have both been defined as and used as genres since the birth of the prose romance, which predates the novel.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn though not identified as YA when Clemens/Twain wrote it, the author very clearly intended it for teens, and it was clearly identified as a book for teens by the various library board members who condemned it in 1855, including Louisa May Alcott who wrote (http://entertainment.time.com/2011/01/06/removing-the-n-word-from-huck-finn-top-10-censored-books/slide/the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn/):


If Mr. Clemens cannot think of something better to tell our pure-minded lads and lasses he had best stop writing for them.

It's a YA novel because of the age of the protagonists Huck and yes, even Jim, and because of the concerns and motifs of the book—how to function in a difficult world when you're an adolescent without real mentors or positive adult role models. Or really, how to be an adult.

That's a common concern of YA even now.

Beachgirl
06-10-2014, 05:10 AM
The thing that makes Carrie more adult, I think, is that it's more a work of genre horror intended for a wider audience, and it's told in more of an adult/omniscient voice than the actual first person or deeper third pov of the teen protagonist.

^This. If Carrie should be considered YA, then Cujo could be classified as a Children's book because it has a kid and a dog in it.

But both were written as adult horror, through and through.

shelleyo
06-10-2014, 05:17 AM
^This. If Carrie should be considered YA, then Cujo could be classified as a Children's book because it has a kid and a dog in it.



Yeah, by that logic Lolita would be YA. Or, hell, middle-grade. She's 12, isn't she?

Kylabelle
06-10-2014, 05:19 AM
This might shed some additional light on certain elements of the issue:

A Young Adult Author's Fantastic Crusade to Defend Literature's Most Maligned Genre (http://www.nerve.com/books/a-young-adult-authors-fantastic-crusade-to-defend-literatures-most-maligned-genre)

:D

Hapax Legomenon
06-10-2014, 05:47 AM
This might shed some additional light on certain elements of the issue:

A Young Adult Author's Fantastic Crusade to Defend Literature's Most Maligned Genre (http://www.nerve.com/books/a-young-adult-authors-fantastic-crusade-to-defend-literatures-most-maligned-genre)

:D

What a beautiful article.

Rhoda Nightingale
06-10-2014, 07:14 AM
“The novel was invented in the 19th century,” I whispered, inhaling the sweet perfume of her glossy robot hair.

:roll:

Liosse de Velishaf
06-10-2014, 07:45 AM
This might shed some additional light on certain elements of the issue:

A Young Adult Author's Fantastic Crusade to Defend Literature's Most Maligned Genre (http://www.nerve.com/books/a-young-adult-authors-fantastic-crusade-to-defend-literatures-most-maligned-genre)

:D


What a beautiful article.


:roll:



I have no idea what I just read. But I love it...

benbradley
06-10-2014, 08:43 AM
“The thing is,” I continued. “Cultural arbiters have always been the richest, whitest, most male-dominated groups.
I suppose that explains the extreme dominance of Science Fiction.

Wait a second...

Roxxsmom
06-10-2014, 09:16 AM
Sexual content isn't really the issue with Carrie. Have you read it? It's been years for me, but I do remember that Carrie, the teen protagonist, is abused throughout the story by just about everybody she encounters and dies horribly in the end after revenge-killing 400+ people. It's not YA. Older teens might read it, but it's not a story for teens. It's just a horror novel.

I agree. But I was responding to the mention of the shower scene as something that specifically made it not YA. As I recall, that was where she freaked because she got her period for the first time, and all the girls were jeering and chucking sanitary products at her.

I don't think the scene itself (involving intense bullying of a sexually harassing nature) is off limits for YA. But as I remember, the scene was not seen through Carrie's eyes. I don't remember if it was omni or limited third through the gym teacher's eyes (it's been so long), but I do remember that the scene mentioned the teacher's surprise over Carrie's naivete and late menarche.

But yeah, I think there were other reasons why it wasn't a typical YA style besides the pov thing.

But there are YA horror novels, and YA novels with a high body count, sex, profanity and plenty of other things that make some parent groups cluck their tongues and school libraries to ban them.


^This. If Carrie should be considered YA, then Cujo could be classified as a Children's book because it has a kid and a dog in it.

But both were written as adult horror, through and through.

And GoT would be MG to younger YA, because we spend so much time following Bran, Jon, Danys, Arya and Sansa.

What makes a novel YA is not just a teen protagonist, or even the content per se, but the focus on the perspective and pov of characters in the 13-18 (middle school through high school) age as they try to figure out how to fit into the world on their own terms. While there's an element of this in Carrie, GoT, and probably even Cujo (though I didn't read it), that's not the primary focus of any of these books.

And just because something is aimed at teens, doesn't mean we adults can't relate too. I was a teen once. I remember what it was like, and I had some very intense emotional and aesthetic experiences when I was a teen. I could write a story about a teen from the pov of the adult I am now, certainly, but that would be very different in some ways from a story written from the pov of the teen I was then.


When I awoke, the moon was bright and I was turning into a werewolf. The transformation didn’t hurt as much as my period cramps, but I didn’t know what those were, because I was raised in a religious cult.Okay, this made me laugh, since the subject of Carrie had already come up.

J.S.F.
06-10-2014, 11:08 AM
I have no idea what I just read. But I love it...
---
Second and third that, I said, just before turning into a giant Voltron-like robot that crushed the alien cockroach invaders to dust.

And Ruth Graham can kiss my yatabay.:D

Weirdmage
06-10-2014, 11:12 AM
There's racier and edgier stuff than that in US YA. Heck, even back in the 70s, there were novels aimed at teens (though not called YA back then specifically) that had sex in them. Forever by Judy Blume comes to mind.

The thing that makes Carrie more adult, I think, is that it's more a work of genre horror intended for a wider audience, and it's told in more of an adult/omniscient voice than the actual first person or deeper third pov of the teen protagonist.

I think you misunderstand me. I am not saying the shower scene makes Carrie not YA because of nakedness (, and to be honest I would never think of it as "razy" and I find the segueway to sex a bit disturbing..., ) but because of the way it reads. I stand by that I think it alone would make it not marketable as YA in the US, anyone thinking of marketing it as such would stop reading there and dismiss teh idea I think.
What was more important in what I wrote, is that the book as a whole is absolutely not something that could be easily marketed as YA. That goes for Norway, where I am from, and as far as I know anywhere really. (But I would be interested to hear from anyone who has seen it marketed as YA anywhere.)
I think Carrie actually "fails the YA test" because of the old age classification roots of YA. But as a whole, not for anything individual in it.

Roxxsmom
06-10-2014, 11:42 AM
Sorry, I didn't mean to misconstrue what you said. I've run across so many people on this site and others who seem to think that any profanity or sex (or hint of anything remotely related to sex or the human body) means a story can't be YA. Clearly such people haven't read any YA if they think that. Didn't mean to assume you were coming from that angle.

I completely agree with you that nudity, or sex, which is not the same thing at all, does not an adult or YA make. And there was certainly nothing sexy about the scene.

I agree that the book is not YA, but I'd say it's not really the horror angle so much as the perspective it's told from. Carrie was not an especially sympathetic heroine, as I recall. King disliked her, and that came through.

bearilou
06-10-2014, 04:22 PM
Which makes me wonder why Lord of the Flies is now considered YA.

Dave.C.Robinson
06-10-2014, 04:47 PM
Which makes me wonder why Lord of the Flies is now considered YA.

Because most of its readership is made up of teens.

Lord of the Flies has been taught in high schools for decades now, so it's shelved with YA because that's where parents look for books on school summer reading programs.

It gets back to YA as a marketing category more than a traditional genre. Lord of the Flies sells better as YA than as adult fiction.

Phaeal
06-10-2014, 05:35 PM
Graham's quote of Jen Doll is most telling: "At its heart, YA aims to be pleasurable." Whereas the only literature worth reading is that which "confound(s) and discomfit(s)."

Oh, okay.

Christopher Derrick remains teh winner when he notes that the world seen through shit-colored glasses is just as unrealistic as the world seen through rose-colored ones.

It is only the very young in wisdom who disdain pleasure and the young at heart.

Becky Black
06-10-2014, 06:12 PM
I don't seek out YA, I tend to end up reading it without realising it is YA. That's what happened with Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go, which I only found out was YA when I went to have a look at info about it online. To me it was just sci-fi with a young protagonist. I also didn't know it was the first part of a trilogy and ended on a cliffhanger, but that's another story. :D

It was still my favourite book I read that year. Quality transcends all other categories.

bearilou
06-10-2014, 07:08 PM
I don't seek out YA, I tend to end up reading it without realising it is YA. That's what happened with Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go, which I only found out was YA when I went to have a look at info about it online. To me it was just sci-fi with a young protagonist. I also didn't know it was the first part of a trilogy and ended on a cliffhanger, but that's another story. :D.

See, stuff like this is really only confusing the matter to me. It was YA because....?

I understand that having a young protagonist doesn't necessarily qualify it for YA status. But all this conversation and I'm still no closer to understanding what makes it YA or not.

It's not the protag's age.
It's not the subject matter or theme.
It's not the complicated/simplistic plot lines.
It's not the inclusion/exclusion of sex.
It's not the inclusion/exclusion of violence.
It's not the genre/story world.

So....? What makes something YA?

Dave.C.Robinson
06-10-2014, 07:16 PM
See, stuff like this is really only confusing the matter to me. It was YA because....?

I understand that having a young protagonist doesn't necessarily qualify it for YA status. But all this conversation and I'm still no closer to understanding what makes it YA or not.

It's not the protag's age.
It's not the subject matter or theme.
It's not the complicated/simplistic plot lines.
It's not the inclusion/exclusion of sex.
It's not the inclusion/exclusion of violence.
It's not the genre/story world.

So....? What makes something YA?

The belief that when you put all those factors together, the best way to sell the book would be to shelve it in YA.

bearilou
06-10-2014, 07:29 PM
The belief that when you put all those factors together, the best way to sell the book would be to shelve it in YA.

:ROFL:

Which would then render this entire article pretty much useless.

I do wonder though, there is some thought that goes into making that decision to shelve it as YA rather than any other shelf decision. There is something there, something that the publisher is considering that says 'this would really sell much better in the YA market'.

What is that it factor?

And if that's the case, why do some authors think of themselves as YA authors and not just authors? Is there something in their approach or mindset that they set out to write a book for the YA readers? What is it? How are they targeting YA readers? What in their planning for a book do they consider when writing?

Dave.C.Robinson
06-10-2014, 07:35 PM
I don't know for sure, and I've managed a bookstore.

The closest I can come is that there are multiple factors, and when they reach a certain critical mass in combination, then the book gets listed as YA. It's not the same for every book though.

Liosse de Velishaf
06-10-2014, 10:56 PM
Someone in the other thread linked to a rebuttal which linked to this wonderful quote:


“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

Liosse de Velishaf
06-10-2014, 11:01 PM
:ROFL:

Which would then render this entire article pretty much useless.

I do wonder though, there is some thought that goes into making that decision to shelve it as YA rather than any other shelf decision. There is something there, something that the publisher is considering that says 'this would really sell much better in the YA market'.

What is that it factor?

And if that's the case, why do some authors think of themselves as YA authors and not just authors? Is there something in their approach or mindset that they set out to write a book for the YA readers? What is it? How are they targeting YA readers? What in their planning for a book do they consider when writing?



YA is like Porn. You know it when you see it!






Seriously, though, there are some simple ways to make an educated guess on the YA-ness of a story.

1. It has a protag between 12 and 18/19. If the protag is not in this age group, the chances are it is not YA. This includes if there are multiple protags and one of them is an adult. That's what disqualifies Game of Thrones.

2. It deals with themes likely to be relevant to a young adult. The primary set of themes is "firsts". For example, most YA romances involve first loves. (not all) Other themes include independence in choosing friends and activities, taking care of oneself without major assistance from authority figures, etc.

3. It's shelved in the YA section, or put out by an imprint that deals with YA.




So, out of those six things you mentioned, the first two actually do matter quite a bit in classifying something as YA, though they don't always make a clear distinction. But the other four are completely irrelevant.

Roxxsmom
06-11-2014, 02:00 AM
See, stuff like this is really only confusing the matter to me. It was YA because....?

I understand that having a young protagonist doesn't necessarily qualify it for YA status. But all this conversation and I'm still no closer to understanding what makes it YA or not.

It's not the protag's age.
It's not the subject matter or theme.
It's not the complicated/simplistic plot lines.
It's not the inclusion/exclusion of sex.
It's not the inclusion/exclusion of violence.
It's not the genre/story world.

So....? What makes something YA?

For modern books, it's most often the voice and pov it's written in. Books where the narrator is the teen and he/she is telling it from their own current perspective (not that of an older, wiser self), or one where the pov is a deeply immersive third, again, in the pov of the teens as they are now, are often intended for teens. Books with teen characters where the narrator is seeing the kid's motives through a more adult filter is more likely an adult story.

Think of a difference between a story written about a teen's first love as the teen perceives it at the time, versus a story written about a teen's first love from the perspective of her looking back thirty years later (God, what an idiot I was, thinking it could or should last forever. I should have focused more on my schoolwork).

But some older classics with teen protags, or simply books that end up on lots of summer reading lists, get moved into the category too. So as others have said, really, it's down to where the publishers or booksellers think the book will sell the most. Some books even have different editions. Watership Downs, for instance, was published simultaneously as both a children's book and an adult's book. I don't know if this practice is as common as it once was. I read it when I was a kid, but the edition I had came from the adult section of the bookstore. It was a very fat book with no pictures. It actually took some work to get through it, though I was reading well above age level (is still one of my all-time favorite animal stories, though).

Dave.C.Robinson
06-11-2014, 02:21 AM
For modern books, it's most often the voice and pov it's written in. Books where the narrator is the teen and he/she is telling it from their own current perspective (not that of an older, wiser self), or one where the pov is a deeply immersive third, again, in the pov of the teens as they are now, are often intended for teens. Books with teen characters where the narrator is seeing the kid's motives through a more adult filter is more likely an adult story.

Think of a difference between a story written about a teen's first love as the teen perceives it at the time, versus a story written about a teen's first love from the perspective of her looking back thirty years later (God, what an idiot I was, thinking it could or should last forever. I should have focused more on my schoolwork).

But some older classics with teen protags, or simply books that end up on lots of summer reading lists, get moved into the category too. So as others have said, really, it's down to where the publishers or booksellers think the book will sell the most. Some books even have different editions. Watership Downs, for instance, was published simultaneously as both a children's book and an adult's book. I don't know if this practice is as common as it once was. I read it when I was a kid, but the edition I had came from the adult section of the bookstore. It was a very fat book with no pictures. It actually took some work to get through it, though I was reading well above age level (is still one of my all-time favorite animal stories, though).

Some very good points here. It also explains why present tense is more common in YA than adult fiction. It makes it easier to ensure you stay in the POV of the teen having the experiences rather than their older and presumably wiser self reflecting back on it. It also explains why other genres/categories don't use it as much, because that element of being in the now of a youthful protagonist isn't usually as important to the story outside YA.

Present tense isn't just a stylistic choice for YA, it's a more effective tool for the category/genre.

Fuchsia Groan
06-12-2014, 04:17 PM
Some very good points here. It also explains why present tense is more common in YA than adult fiction. It makes it easier to ensure you stay in the POV of the teen having the experiences rather than their older and presumably wiser self reflecting back on it. It also explains why other genres/categories don't use it as much, because that element of being in the now of a youthful protagonist isn't usually as important to the story outside YA.

Present tense isn't just a stylistic choice for YA, it's a more effective tool for the category/genre.

So true. YA present tense sometimes approaches internal monologue. I've written that way and written a more distant past tense, and always had more luck with the former. (Before anyone dismisses internal monologue, one of the form's pioneers was turn-of-the-century Viennese novelist Arthur Schnitzler, whom we'd probably call "literary" today. He wrote the source material for Eyes Wide Shut. His novella "Fräulein Else" wasn't intended for kids but could almost pass as YA now if it weren't so darn Freudian.)

But there are always exceptions that suggest to me it finally comes down to marketing. I interviewed an acclaimed "literary YA" author who told me she originally wrote her book as simply an literary coming of age tale. (Its ending is low-key and similar to the "epiphany" endings I've seen in tons of bildungsromans going back to Joyce.) Marketing it as YA was a decision that came later. So should I be "ashamed" to have read her book as an adult, or not?

And should I be ashamed to have read PURE, a dystopian novel with teen protagonists written in present tense that for some reason (I'm guessing the prose and the magical realist elements) was marketed as adult fiction? Ninety percent of the book's Goodreads reviewers seem to assume it is YA based on the characters and plotting. I would have assumed the same. Whereas, had I opened THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO without knowing it was YA, I could easily have thought it was some weird literary SF experiment.

Granted, there are factors that make it possible to market a given book as YA. A coming of age theme. A fast-paced, propulsive plot (which Ness has once you get past the initial disorientation of his premise). First person present tense. But whether a given book with those elements will be classified as YA depends, I think, partially on market factors.

As someone who is very much on the borderline with my writing and is often asked to make it "sound more YA," I think about this a lot. If a given story was always either YA or adult by its nature, such "YA makeovers" wouldn't be possible. But adding and subtracting certain elements helps a story fit more plausibly into a category that is already amazingly inclusive these days.

bearilou
06-12-2014, 04:33 PM
Thanks everyone, for attempting to educate me on what makes YA, YA. I think I get it. Or the gist of it. :D

Publishing. What a funny, crazy world.

Dave.C.Robinson
06-12-2014, 05:20 PM
So true. YA present tense sometimes approaches internal monologue. I've written that way and written a more distant past tense, and always had more luck with the former. (Before anyone dismisses internal monologue, one of the form's pioneers was turn-of-the-century Viennese novelist Arthur Schnitzler, whom we'd probably call "literary" today. He wrote the source material for Eyes Wide Shut. His novella "Fräulein Else" wasn't intended for kids but could almost pass as YA now if it weren't so darn Freudian.)

But there are always exceptions that suggest to me it finally comes down to marketing. I interviewed an acclaimed "literary YA" author who told me she originally wrote her book as simply an literary coming of age tale. (Its ending is low-key and similar to the "epiphany" endings I've seen in tons of bildungsromans going back to Joyce.) Marketing it as YA was a decision that came later. So should I be "ashamed" to have read her book as an adult, or not?

And should I be ashamed to have read PURE, a dystopian novel with teen protagonists written in present tense that for some reason (I'm guessing the prose and the magical realist elements) was marketed as adult fiction? Ninety percent of the book's Goodreads reviewers seem to assume it is YA based on the characters and plotting. I would have assumed the same. Whereas, had I opened THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO without knowing it was YA, I could easily have thought it was some weird literary SF experiment.

Granted, there are factors that make it possible to market a given book as YA. A coming of age theme. A fast-paced, propulsive plot (which Ness has once you get past the initial disorientation of his premise). First person present tense. But whether a given book with those elements will be classified as YA depends, I think, partially on market factors.

As someone who is very much on the borderline with my writing and is often asked to make it "sound more YA," I think about this a lot. If a given story was always either YA or adult by its nature, such "YA makeovers" wouldn't be possible. But adding and subtracting certain elements helps a story fit more plausibly into a category that is already amazingly inclusive these days.

I agree, in the end it's always marketing.

I don't know that I'd call past tense more distant, though it's definitely less immediate; if you follow the distinction. For me at least, past tense doesn't have to carry that sense of sober reflection; the advantage of present in this case is that it instantly rules it out.

It's a case where the strengths of the technique align with the requirements of the form. (I'm not really happy with using form, but I don't think genre or category works well either unless you're discussing how you sell the books rather than conceive them.) Present tense doesn't have to mean YA, and YA doesn't have to use it; they just work well together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Roxxsmom
06-12-2014, 07:19 PM
There are ways to make past tense feel more immediate too. It's possible to have a first-person narrative where it feels like the person is relating something that happened a short time before rather than years before.

And with limited third, especially when it's a closer limited third, it generally feels like the narrative is happening in the "now" of the story, even if it's in past tense. I have a little more trouble with third person present for this reason than first person present. A lot of people my age say they loathe any use of present tense in a story. I assume this was because it was used very rarely when we were younger, or at least it was generally only used in literary novels that were intentionally calling attention to their departure from the narrative norm and the reader's comfort level.

But when it's done skillfully enough, I scarcely notice the tense.

Samsonet
06-12-2014, 08:53 PM
This thread reminded me of something. A while ago I remember posting a rant about YA and that I hated the characters of YA books. I'm sorry about that. Last year I grew up a bit and actually tried some.

And y'know what? It was very good.

KTC
06-12-2014, 09:08 PM
My name is Kevin and I LOVE ya fiction.

Kashmirgirl1976
06-12-2014, 09:19 PM
I read some YA, and quite frankly, don't give a rat's ear about what others think. There's some fascinating material there, and to judge the work, without reading it, by the genre is lazy.

Furthermore, there's some boring material in Literary/Adult fiction as well.

Dave.C.Robinson
06-12-2014, 11:22 PM
That's the thing, there are some good YA where you really don't notice the tense.

In good writing, regardless of category or genre, you shouldn't notice the tense. As a reader, your attention should be on the story rather than the mechanics of the writing.

But sometimes, the choice of tense can affect the way the story's told. For example, a story of first love can change remarkably based solely on the choice of tense. Tell it in past tense, and you can use the POV of the adult reflecting on her youth; tell it in present tense and you can lock out the perspective of that future adult and tell it entirely from the POV of the teen as it happens.

You could also do the latter in past tense, though I think it would be stronger in present; however, it would be really difficult to tell the reflective story in present tense.

Tense is just another tool, and the choice you make depends on your needs as a storyteller. Do it well, and nobody will care.

Roxxsmom
06-13-2014, 06:17 AM
This thread reminded me of something. A while ago I remember posting a rant about YA and that I hated the characters of YA books. I'm sorry about that. Last year I grew up a bit and actually tried some.

And y'know what? It was very good.

It's a huge category, and just like adult fiction, there are going to be some we like and some we don't. Really good juvenile and YA fiction often has stuff in it that adults can appreciate too. Honestly, as someone who works with younger folks (college age, but they're not too far off YA) and who has nieces and nephews rapidly approaching the YA demographic, I can think of very logical reasons to stay in touch with my inner teenager.

I agree about tense. If you use one that works for your story and do it well, it's fine. But some people do care. I've run across people who categorically hate present, but then, I've also run across younger readers who don't care for past tense either. I actually ran across one who said he'd never read anything past tense, though I had trouble believing that, as most the classic stuff out there for younger kids tends to be in past. Or maybe he never read Dr. Seuss or any of the other childhood classics when he was little?

J.S.F.
06-13-2014, 08:45 AM
Good points made by D. Robinson about use of tense. Something for me in mind more of as I write. Although I've never been conscious of using tense to imply immediacy or reflection, somehow it just came out in my writing. Maybe I'm growing up a little. :)

Currently working on finishing off a novel where the prologue is in present tense, the bulk of the story takes places prior to that--roughly a six-month period of time--and then finishes off in the present tense once more. It's the first time I've consciously tried doing this, so I'll see how it pans out. So far so good...