I struggle with YA. Not reading it – writing it. Apparently, my natural voice is that of a somewhat precocious ten-year-old. Not a bad thing, since I’ve been focusing on writing middle grade.
But the current book I’m working on is a historical novel with older teens as protagonists. And once again, the feedback I received was “Nope, hon. Not YA. Wrong voice.” (Thanks to crit buddy, Doug Anders, for the Witch of Blackbird Pond inspiration! Solves the problem for me – I’m writing another MG novel. 🙂 )
But I was struck by The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors while skimming my email. With that title, I expected the usual advice: know your audience, don’t be preachy or “talk down” to teens, plop your bottom in your chair. I wasn’t expecting a quick and clever summation of how to achieve YA voice. (But I should have – two of the “panelists” are Rainbow Rowell and John Green.)
After a second reading, I realized that I’ve heard all the “habits” before. At conferences, in other articles, heck, while reading YA books! But for some reason, this article made it click. I get it now. I’m likely to keep on writing my new project as middle-grade. That feels right to me, and I don’t think a YA audience would enjoy this book as I’ve planned it.
That said, maybe I’ll branch out. Give a few pages a try in a different voice. And if not, well, I’ve another book idea I always thought was YA. When I get down to writing it, I’ve got a better shot at nailing that YA voice.