Don’t Be Lazy with YA: What Makes the Genre Fly?

Once a week in a while, I share generalized writing tips from my beta reading experiences with the aim of helping you better yourself as a writer.

Recently I found myself breaking down the Young Adult (or YA) genre, mostly to focus my own thoughts and figure out just what makes a novel YA in the first place *grins*. And these are some points I came up with:

  • Relatability – The story, its characters (especially an MC), the world, etc. need to be something a YA audience can relate to. And this doesn’t always mean that every novel written about kids/teens falls under YA either – Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Song center around children and teens (respectively), but are filed under sci-fi and general fiction (respectively).
  • RomanceThis doesn’t have to be the typical meaning (like the romance genre). It can be, but if that kind of romance isn’t a part of the story, then it might have to do with heroism or idealizing a certain subject (Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord deals with the romance of thievery).
  • The “Journey”The point where your MC starts at the beginning, and where he/she ends up (through trials/tribulations/self-growth) at the end. This is present in any novel of course, but it’s especially important for YA because kids/teens place so much emphasis on specific events in their life. Kind of like that quote from the movie, 17 Again:
“I know that when you’re young, it feels like the end of the world. But it’s not. It’s only the beginning.”
But of course these are just my thoughts on the subject, not a strict formula (disclaimer!). Anybody else want to share points they feel really influence the YA genre?
Photo Credit: Peter Sheik

By Tanya

Tanya Marcy is a writer, storyteller, and avid reader who loves advising writers and mentoring young creatives.