No Rocket Ships

It is weird writing a mainstream YA book. Some of my first readers are more used to reading and critiquing genre, and some of them get a little impatient waiting for the rocket ships or magic to show up, even though they know that’s not actually going to happen in this book. Yes, I am occasionally tempted to have my protagonist walk through a magic door into Narnia, but no.

I’m also thinking about prose style; a lot of the current YA I’m reading has a conversational prose style. Is Catcher in the Rye YA? It’s in that vein, I think. You can have an interesting voice to your protagonist, but I think doing much in the way of prose pyrotechnics otherwise would get in the way of the intimacy YA invites, the sense that you’re there with the almost-adult on their journey, that you’re in their head.

Some of my first readers would like there to be more plot tension early on, and I think I am resisting that. I’ve been reading some strong YA, and often, there just isn’t a lot of plot tension at all. It’s not really about that. A lot of it is very slow-paced, by comparison to standard commercial SF/F. I think that’s okay.

I’m not sure what YA is about. I read one definition that said YA was about realizing the adults around you were just people, and coming to terms with what that meant for you. I think that’s often part of it, but not all of it.

What do you think YA is about? (Is there really one thing that YA is about, or is it as varied in theme and purpose as adult lit?)

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