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R. McNeary
01-08-2016, 02:05 AM
I have a finished work that I have classified as YA Fantasy. Upon further consideration, I wonder whether or not it should be considered such.

My initial consideration was the age of the main protagonist (16). However, upon reading some of the current YA and non-YA fantasy works, I feel like I may be missing the mark.

There are several POVs, which ages ranging from 13 to 30+.

There is the coming of age aspect but that *isn't* what drives the story. It's more about the journey, sacrifice and what it takes to be a hero.

I guess my question is this: Does the age alone connote whether or not it's YA, especially when it comes time to pitch to agents and editors?

Latina Bunny
01-08-2016, 02:19 AM
There might be some exceptions I'm unaware of (or can't remember at the moment), but YA usually revolves around the characters who are in their teen years.

Another concern: 13-year old might be close to MG age--maybe Upper MG/Lower YA, while the 16-year-old would be in the Upper YA range. Then there's the adult 30year old...That's quite a range there (for the YA/MG markets, I mean)...

I think you may have an adult fantasy book that just happens to have kids of various ages alongside adult characters. (Adult books can have children and teen main characters.)

R. McNeary
01-08-2016, 02:32 AM
I think you may have an adult fantasy book that just happens to have kids of various ages alongside adult characters. (Adult books can have children and teen main characters.)

That's where my thoughts are leading at the moment. A good number of people have read this story (second draft stage) on another site. And I've gotten a couple of comments from people stating that it doesn't feel particularly YA.

If it's an adult fantasy where the main protagonist is 16, I wonder if I need to make some changes.

Latina Bunny
01-08-2016, 02:51 AM
Maybe you might need to make changes, or maybe you might not.

It's up to you, and what works best for the story. :)

Brightdreamer
01-08-2016, 03:02 AM
Hmm... have you read any recent YA fantasies, to see how close you come - in age and overall "feel" - to what's out there now?

It could be general fantasy, though I have read some YA that start with the character a little younger (usually not for long, IIRC - more in a prologue/setting-things-up sense) and occasionally older by the story's end. And I've seen some grown-up fantasy that's been repackaged and marketed to the YA crowd because of crossover appeal, so I wouldn't dismiss the potential market out of hand.

This is really something an agent or editor might be more helpful with; they know the marketplace better, and who might be looking for what.

rwm4768
01-08-2016, 03:08 AM
My gut instinct says your story is an adult fantasy with coming of age elements. That's a very common type of fantasy. It often does appeal to readers in the MG and YA age categories, but it's more of an adult fantasy with crossover appeal. In today's market, YA has come to mean a very specific thing. With rare exceptions, every POV character will be 15 to 18 (maybe 14 or 19, but not all that often). YA is often first-person as well (though that's not always true).

BethS
01-08-2016, 05:44 PM
I agree with rwm. Age alone does not determine YA status.

PoppysInARow
01-09-2016, 09:44 AM
I agree with what others have said. It sounds more adult. Rarely are adults POV characters in YA. And more about the age of the protagonist, YA is about teen experiences: falling in love for the first time, rebelling against authority, experiencing independence after a childhood of relying on caregivers. For example, The Child Thief by Gerald Brom stars a teenage protagonist and many children as characters (as it's about Peter Pan). But it is not about the teenage experience. Whereas though Hunger Games has a violent and political backdrop, the central story focuses on Katniss protecting her family, as well as having to decide between her two crushes. It's a subtle difference in most cases, and there's a lot of crossover appeal, so don't worry too much about it. When my YA dystopia was being shopped around, my agent pitched it to adult fantasy markets despite the fact that I wrote it specifically with a teenage audience in mind and teenage protagonists. So it really depends on how you to pitch your story, in the end.

edw2k
01-15-2016, 02:15 PM
Maybe it's upper YA.

TereLiz
01-22-2016, 09:44 PM
It's a tough call without reading a sample, but if you're getting crits saying it doesn't feel YA enough, it's probably not YA enough. It might be the voice is too adult: too knowing, too much looking back and reflecting (not that teens don't reflect, but if they did it more, the teen years would be very boring). Are your povs deep third, or is there an omniscient narrator? I'm guessing deep third, since the use of an omn narrator with a unique voice is one of the things that can make a work read more YA than adult. (I can't do an omn narrator at all, and tend to go deep if I'm using third. More's the pity)

It sounds more like a hero's journey, which can also be a coming of age story.


That's where my thoughts are leading at the moment. A good number of people have read this story (second draft stage) on another site. And I've gotten a couple of comments from people stating that it doesn't feel particularly YA.

If it's an adult fantasy where the main protagonist is 16, I wonder if I need to make some changes.

It sounds like an easier fix than making it YA. Luckily, fantasy (epic, especially) is one of those genres where it's perfectly fine to have a younger protag. But making the MC 18 might be in your interest. An age change where you consider possible changes in motivation would be easier to pull off than an all over rehaul of voice and themes.

Sorry if that was a lot at once, but these are just the things I've found myself considering when writing YA. Good luck with whatever changes you decide to make!

Curlz
01-22-2016, 11:34 PM
I guess my question is this: Does the age alone connote whether or not it's YA, especially when it comes time to pitch to agents and editors?
No. YA means the book content is geared toward readers who are underage (up to 18y.o.). The first things that would come under scrutiny there are the language (swear words, rude expressions etc) and way things like sex and murder are described and tackled altogether. Imagine your book as a movie and think what sort of rating it would get (or whether it would be suitable for daytime television viewing or would be only aired later at night). The more your content resembles Game of Thrones, the less YA it would be. Adding YA label to your book is quite limiting. Fantasy is a genre widely read by the younger audience anyway, so there is less need to additionally say it is also "YA".

Cyia
01-22-2016, 11:48 PM
If you've got substantial POV's that are out of the teenage range, it's not likely that your book is YA. I use this example a lot, but look at Game of Thrones. With the exception of a few chapters, all of its focal characters are well under eighteen, and it's still an adult novel, rather than a YA one.


No. YA means the book content is geared toward readers who are underage (up to 18y.o.). The first things that would come under scrutiny there are the language (swear words, rude expressions etc)

Not true. We've got solidly YA writers on this board whose work includes language that would make rude expressions sound like being on your best behavior for Grandma. Language is not a barrier to a YA label.


and way things like sex and murder are described and tackled altogether. Imagine your book as a movie and think what sort of rating it would get (or whether it would be suitable for daytime television viewing or would be only aired later at night).

Yes, as a guideline. Your book being rated-R doesn't necessarily mean that it's not YA. One of the most common reasons for people to request the removal of YA-lit from libraries (after language and morality) is the presence of sex and violence. There are sexually explicit YA novels, and exceptionally violent ones. The difference is in the presentation. Sex in YA is handled differently from sex in adult books. Violence however is American as apple pie and gets a free pass. :tongue


The more your content resembles Game of Thrones, the less YA it would be.

Yes.


Adding YA label to your book is quite limiting. Fantasy is a genre widely read by the younger audience anyway, so there is less need to additionally say it is also "YA".

No. It's actually the opposite because it makes agents and editors consider that the book has crossover appeal (which is where the mega-hits come in).

You don't want to label a book that isn't YA as YA, but never be afraid to add the tag to your novel if that's where it fits.

owlion
01-24-2016, 08:40 PM
Often it depends a lot on the themes and tone of the story, rather than ages. For example, in Titus Groan (adult fantasy), two of the main viewpoint characters are in their teens, while in The Raven Boys (YA fantasy) one viewpoint character is an adult.
The best thing I can think of to do is to try reading a few YA fantasy books and a few adult fantasy books and see which is more like the one you've written.

Persistence1010
01-31-2016, 09:45 PM
Hi!

I read and write both YA fantasy and adult fantasy. I think the style of the genres are a bit different. Adult fantasy, even with teens, tends to be more world focused whereas teen fantasy tends to have a more character-centered narrative. I agree with Laurie17, try reading a few of each and I think you will notice differences in the style and structure of each.

fitzdiaz
02-05-2016, 06:19 AM
I am so, so far from being an authority on this. But I did get some really helpful agent feedback (well, it was helpful for me - hopefully it will be for you) on my own fantasy novel...

Agent opinion (and this is just one agent): YA generally has themes of sexual awakening. Violence is more intense and the threat/existence of it more quotidian than in MG (Ember in the Ashes seems like a good example of this, compared to, say, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). Adult deals with all manner of adult issues (GoT, etc).

I would think that a YA with multiple POVs could have an adult. But I think whether it's YA or plain fantasy depends on the themes covered, particularly relating to violence and sexuality.

ManInBlack
02-10-2016, 12:13 PM
I've read adult novels that focused on older teens with coming of age elements, yet did not necessarily feel YA. Granted I'm not exactly a connoisseur of the genre at this point, but if the YA elements don't seem to be the primary drive of the story and it doesn't feel like it's mainly YA, it's probably not that specific - particularly if YA readers aren't likely to take that much more out of it than older readers.

lizo27
02-10-2016, 04:47 PM
Well, A Song of Ice and Fire has roughly the same age range of viewpoint characters as you have, and some of the characters are definitely going through coming-of-age arcs (Danaerys, Jon Snow, and Bran, in particular), but it is definitely not ​YA.

Brian G Turner
02-10-2016, 04:49 PM
My gut instinct says your story is an adult fantasy with coming of age elements. That's a very common type of fantasy.

Agree - the Hero's Journey, so common in fantasy, usually requires a young protagonist.

However, YA fiction is not principally about the age of the protagonist, as much as the coming of age issues that the protagonist of that age has to deal with.

Jo Zebedee
02-10-2016, 06:22 PM
Pitching a YA fantasy/sf with adult povs in it is problematic. (I still have the scars...). Personally, if you can, I'd pitch it as straight fantasy. If you start to get responses suggesting it isn't, then change it.

Roxxsmom
02-11-2016, 01:13 AM
It's my understanding that voice is a big thing with modern YA novels too. The stories are generally told from the pov of the teenaged protagonist, or if there is more than one pov, multiple teen aged protagonists (often first person and/or present tense, but others are used too).

There may be some exceptions, and it can be confusing with older "classic" fantasy works, or highly successful books with characters who are in their early twenties or age out of YA as the series progresses (like Snyder's Poison Study), sometimes being re-released or re-shelved with YA because of crossover appeal. But if you have pov characters who are older, and your teen isn't the center of the story, then it's probably better to pitch it as fantasy.

I second the advice to read some YA (make sure it's been published in the past few years and was originally released and marketed as YA, not reissued). Our local B&N has a separate YA fantasy and SF section.