YA fiction, the fiction of YA

Image result for hunger gamesThe indie writer scene seemed to be over flowing with Young Adult Fiction. Or YA as it gets referred to in general. In many ways it seems the in vogue thing to write in indie circles, at least if your not writing erotic fiction. Its hard to be critical of this. It is a growth market in some respects, it is certainly the popular genre to be writing in thanks to the success of novels like +Twilight , +The Hunger Games, +Divergence , and +The Maze Runner making the leap to the big screen. YA is seen by many as a road to success, but the down side of this is the ‘many’ have flooded the market place with YA fiction which are now all fighting for recognition among so many books that follow the same patterns and story lines. So many want to be Stephenie Meyer’s are writing teen / twenty something vampire romances, rewriting a genre that dates back to old count Dracula himself. This is not to say there is anything wrong with this. If there are people who want to read the genre then its a good thing there are people who want to write it. The problems with the Twilight Saga aside, given that it portrays and yet romanises a relationship in which a man hundreds of years old stalks a young woman. That it has inspired people to write is a good thing. Just as the Hunger games and Maze runner have there own YA dystopia clones. If there is a problem with YA fiction it is to my mind simply this. YA is not a genre. It is instead a collective genre into which everything gets dropped if it fits the very loose criteria of having main characters who are young. Preferably american high school or collage young.

So your asking, why is this a problem? 
Well its a problem because so many of these YA novels fall into the same trap of thinking calling your novel YA allows you to dumb down to an audience which is just as widely read, intelligent and thoughtful as the audience for other genre’s. 
The successful YA fictions, by which I mean the ones which really go on to cross over to the main stream are the ones which most ignore there YA tag and write for an audience of everyone. Take ‘The Hunger Games.’ for example. The novels never write down to there audience. It is in fact not YA at all but a real grown up dystopia, carefully constructed and thought out, which never talks down to its audience or dumbs down its writing. It gets described as YA by the marketing department and placed in the YA section of big chain book stores, but it was never written to be YA. 
A cursory look around +Goodreads will let you find groups of every description. If you want to join a group which reads YA vampire fiction exclusively it will be there. Indeed there is probably a group for YA blonde werewolves in china fiction which caters exclusively to this tiny sub genre. 
Its the tag of YA that bugs me most, and I will admit it is a personal grievance and nothing more. That it seems to be endemic in the indie writer scene is the part which worries me. I have read some good YA and some bad YA. But usually the bad YA is bad because it tries to be a rewrite of something successful or it takes ideas and a concept which could be awesome and waters it down to fit a YA description rather than just write a good story. 
If you want to write YA then my advice is try not to think of what your writing as YA to start with. Tell your story but don’t make your characters teenagers just to fit in with the genre. What makes the hunger games so good is the characters are who they are. Rather than carbon copies and cardboard cut outs of generic teenage misfits. 


About Mark Hayes

Writer A messy, complicated sort of entity. Quantum Pagan. Occasional weregoth Knows where his spoon is, do you? #author #steampunk http://linktr.ee/mark_hayes
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