Tag Archives: genre

Let’s Talk About “New Adult” Novels

 

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Okay, so we all know what Young Adult (or YA) is. Novels written for a teenage audience. And we know what “Adult” books are. Books written for an adult audience.

If you don’t know what “New Adult” is, that’s okay, because it’s kind of a new phenomenon and doesn’t have an aisle at the library yet. Simply put, New Adult, or NA, are novels geared towards that aggravating in between stage in life, where you’re technically an adult but are lost in the big, wide world and are pretty sure you’re still a kid somehow.

Those can be pretty broad terms. An age-group can encompass a vast variety of experiences and lessons — and each of these can be different depending on the person. We all learn and grow at different rates, and everybody probably has different ideas of what should happen (or what’s appropriate) for a particular age group anyway.

For simplicities sake, we’ll go with this explanation I’ve heard and appeals to me: YA is about finding yourself, NA is about finding how you fit into the world.

Now, obviously, that’s simplistic. There are adult books that are stories about finding yourself or finding your place in the world. Honestly, I think “finding yourself” happens at any age and all throughout your life, but there does seem to be a particular foundational self-finding as a teen. Or self-solidifying. Or something. But anyway, NA is college-aged focused, tends to be more mature and have darker content.

Because certain things are more acceptable in NA… and the fact that not a lot of people know about NA, so those who do tend to dominate simply by design… and if we’re looking at numbers a lot of writers tend to write some element of romance… a lot of the writers spearheading the NA as an age-group write romance.

NA is able to delve into the area of sex and sexuality that is frowned upon in YA, which means that what people love about YA gets to be mixed with another very popular element: sex. Descriptions and “exploration” of sex is allowed in NA where it’s not in YA. A win-win for a lot of people.

However, this is also leading to a source of frustration.

Please note: THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH ROMANCE. I love romance. I read quite a bit of romance. I’m a romantic person, I eat it up, especially when I want a happily ever after where everyone is okay in the end and the idea of reading anything about reality makes me want to goat-bolt into the nearest bed.

(I’m going to make goat-bolting a thing. It’s really fast. Trust me.)

Buuuuuuut. The frustration stems from the overwhelmed amount of romance that is dominating New Adult. NA seems to be, practically, just “YA with sex” instead of “college-aged life struggles of finding where you fit in with life.” (Which includes sex of course but you get what I’m saying.) NA has a huge capacity to explore A LOT, but many people of the NA age group or who enjoy the NA age group get frustrated by the seemingly never ending stories about sexual awakening.

Sometimes you want something non-romance. Not only because of the lovely asexual folks out there, who don’t want every book they read in their age group to be smut, but because diversity is a wonderful thing that leads to greatness. Also, choices, because that’s a thing, asexual or otherwise. Romance is great, but when you’re inundated with it you can become sick of it.

The truth is, I get really excited about New Adult stories. I’m a new adult. I feel like I’m in this adult world helplessly swimming in tar looking at everything like WTF AM I DOING. (Current world affairs don’t help.) Finding oneself is amazing and wonderful, but putting those pieces of yourself out in the world and finding how where best they fit keeps me up late wondering. This is where magic happens. This is where “oneself” starts changing the world. This is where “oneself” goes from meaning something just to you to finding the you that means something to other people. It’s terrifying, exhilarating, incredible. Sometimes it’s heartbreak and destruction. Sometimes it’s belonging and joy.

Anyway, the point is: NA is an age-group, not a genre, which means it’s capacity for story is GIGANTIC. I sometimes forget in my own little world where I write what I want, that reality doesn’t always reflect what I think it is or what I think it should be. So, it was really only recently that I realized, yeah, NA is pretty romance-heavy.

But I think there’s an evolution.Since it’s a new age-group, it takes a little bit before it’s fully fleshed out. Romance brought attention to NA: it’s becoming popular and noticed. Agents and publishers acknowledge it, the indie-publishing scene is all over it. Which means that now, as people realize it’s a thing, there will be people writing into it that have other stories to tell.

It’s funny, I wrote NA stories before it was even an age-group. I just wrote what I wanted to see in the world, I wasn’t really worried about it fitting in a bracket. Maybe that’s why I have confidence that NA will move on from “YA with sex” — because if I’m writing it, someone else had to be too. If readers and writers are frustrated about NA seeming limited to one genre, they’ll start writing something different.

NA will evolve. It will become more diverse. Many of us are working on making it so. And hey, if you’re one of those, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s be writing buddies.

 

Comments? Questions? What’s your experience with New Adult — are you writing it?

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What is the Genre of your Novel?

Yesterday I was finally been able to sit down to write after almost a week of chaos. Two of the goats on the farm I live at kidded this weekend, leaving me with four cute factories running around the barn. The moms are taking care of them very well, thank goodness, but one has triplets so we’ve been lending a hand to make sure all her babies are doing well. The little girl out of the bunch likes my fiancee’s lap the most:

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Yes, I’ve been dealing with that cuteness for the past few days!

Anyway, I am attempting to get back on writing track, and obviously, to blog. I’ve gotten feedback from my first beta reader, and she’s absolutely loving my manuscript: she read it in two days, when usually she’s a slow reader who takes her time. We excitedly discussed plot, characters, and style non-stop for almost two hours straight.

So that was very encouraging, and I have a few more beta readers who are going to get their copies here shortly. I’m pretty motived anyway, but it’s making me feel a lot more encouraged to work on the second book, as well as working on lots of agent/editor research.

In slightly off topic but relatable news, I’ve recently run into a bit of an issue: I’m not sure the genre of my novel. It’s fantasy, for sure, with lots of magic. But then there are decent Steampunk elements; for example, advanced technology in a Victorian-like society. But my story doesn’t actually take place in the 1800’s – I’ve redone history with some big twists so it’s actually “current day” with advanced technology and Victorian era traditions. I hesitate to describe it as “Alternative History” because of the heavy amount of fantasy, and because I don’t think I’m anywhere near someone like Diana Gabaldon’s level of research.

Sooo I’m back to the simple “General Fantasy” genre… I just feel it’s more than that, and doesn’t cover enough of what my story is to really cut it. Currently my query doesn’t have a precise genre, but instead a fancier “a mix between this author and this author, appealing to fans who like their fantasy A, B, and C,” etc. I think it’s working decently well for it’s purposes, but I’m still are little perplexed. Before, when I read about agents complaining about authors who mis-identify their genre, I didn’t think it applied to me because the manuscript I worked on before was more cut and dry. But now… it’s looking like my problem.

What do you think? Are you have problems identifying your genre because of it’s odd little quirks? Do you have an idea of what my novel sounds like? Or maybe some advice on how to tackle this in a query? (Or do you want to squeee over the picture of the baby above?)