Monthly Archives: December 2015

Some truths about YA

It’s been more than a year since I’ve been here, and I’m happy to report it has not been a total waste of time. For one, I’m close to graduating from SHSU–praise the heavens–and I have just finished the first one hundred pages on my second novel. *cut to movie explosions and fireworks and stuff*

That update aside, I want to finish a post I’ve had in my draft box for a year and a half now. Please enjoy my lunacy.

So, as a writer of YA, I feel sort of protective about the genr–

NEVER CALL YOUNG ADULT FICTION A “GENRE”! It’s been said that if you do, Chuck Wendig will appear in a hazmat suit and tear gas your mother. Sadly, my mother endured much suffering . . . I’m a slow learner.

(To see an excellent blog post covering many facets of YA fiction in a much funnier and informative manner than I, follow this link to Chuck Wendig’s blog. The man is oodles of fun and profanities:

With that established, I wanted to feel my way through some ideas, frustrations, and conventions of YA fiction.

Young adult fiction, well, is for the young. It’s the intended audience, written from a young adult’s perspective. The age gap varies and can be adjusted to fit/suit MG, or middle grade, fiction. YA can be tacked onto just about any other classifier because, surprise, young humans are everywhere. All these factors have given the literary world (the really hoity-toity types with only the most fanciest of mustaches) the idea that YA is, on the totem pole of literary relevance, somewhere below serial crime novels but before the ingredient list on dog food cans. Here’s my take on why all that is utter troll biscuits:

1) There’s gold in these here hills…
Look, I like to give something a chance before I figuratively crap all over it. (Haven’t literally done that since I was seven. ’99 was a rough year). Devaluing anything before its been given proper attention is just ignorant. If the YA genre were a person, I can’t help but think we’d be doing a whole lotta stereotyping and making a bunch of unfair assumptions about it–how it’s juvenile or unimportant and unworthy. And that’s bit mean, isn’t it? Where’s the love?

2) …and it’s very purty.
There’s some quality writing out there. With YA, you are given the space to view the world through an adolescent lens, and with it, the novelty of experiencing the many firsts that teens undergo. That newness, when written tactfully, can be transformative and powerful. Who am I to shame that?

3) But the cliches!
Many people complain about the tropes and conventions in YA…and I’ll agree to that much. There are things in YA that make me battier than the MLB. (Eh, eh?) That’s in all writing, however. I believe YA catches so much flak because it’s the new thing, and it’s always been cool to hate the new thing. Don’t blame YA because it’s successful. You don’t have to denigrate art to improve other art. It’s freakin’ art. Enjoy it.

4) Reading for pleasure is sinful
Do you have a guilty pleasure that you adore to distraction? I do. It’s Mass Effect fan fiction. Most of what I read is…not exactly what anyone would call literary, but there have been a few stories that truly inspired and had me desperately scrolling through those pages of deliciously wondrous writing. Some authors were so skilled that I began to question my status as a published author. (I’m a sham! Kill me now!) The mold breaking stories, the ones that push and press against the confines of literary categories, those are what I admire above all others. Those stories proved their worth in ways that some traditionally published works never had: they were insightful, beautiful, and they stirred something in me, a thought, a feeling. That’s why I read. Not for the image projected by name dropping favorite authors or titles, but to feel and to understand.

To be a well-rounded person,
the mind needs a variety of literature to stay healthy–meaty non-fiction, plentiful, leafy fiction, a smattering of juicy modern events, some introspective, fibrous work to chew on, and a nice helping of whatever the hell you like for dessert. Be unashamed, unafraid, bold. Read and fill your minds until your skull cap explodes from the pressure.

Devour, my friends. Eat and be full.