Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Young Adult or Just Plain Adult

This week I'm delighted to have Emerald Barnes over for a guest post.
As a YA writer, there are certain rules that I try to write by. For instance, the protagonist is under eighteen (unless s/he is a vampire). I make sure that school plays a role in my books, and I make sure they struggle through “teenage problems.” I define teenage problems as trying to find/keep/deal with a romantic relationship, fighting with parents or parental figures, thinking they’re invincible or at the very least right about every decision they make. I try to put myself in a teenager’s mind and write from there. I also like love triangles which seem to work better in YA.

Writing for an adult is a little different. The problems seem to be complex in a different way. They too have relationship problems, but they are different than the “does he really like me?” problems teenagers have – typically. Adults think differently. We don’t think about life in perspective of who’s more popular than whom, or who will win prom queen (unless it’s children who are up for prom queen). We focus more on what is happening in the now. We have different worries, like finances, finding a better job, or life not going the way we planned it straight out of high school.

But how is one problem more complex than another between adults and young adults? It isn’t really, but when it comes to writing YA fiction, I make sure that my characters fit the “norm” for teenagers.

We have a target audience in mind when we write. It will either be for young adults, adults, middle grade kids, or the new genre, new adult. It doesn’t mean that different age groups can’t read books that aren’t in their age group, but we still have the target audience we direct our novels to. And yes, there are crossovers, but again, that has to do with target audience choices.

The rules above don’t necessarily apply to every book that is YA or adult. It only applies to me and how I write. I tend to see those rules as something as a guideline for my own writing. Adult books for me, tend to be more, “why should I love him?” Or “I know I love him, but it’s too painful being with him due to our past.” The things that happen to adults vary greatly from my typical YA characters. If I put my YA characters in my adult characters’ situations, I don’t see it working out for the storyline.

Sure, there are different situations for different people. That applies to all characters, young or older. But, it’s something we, as a writer, have to figure out before we write the story forming in our minds.

The difference between writing young adult and adult to me is that there are two different views of life. Adults tend to have those “I wish I knew then what I know now”attitudes, while teens tend to think differently. It’s all about getting in the mindset of your characters, be they 13, 18, or 50.

How do you distinguish between writing for YAs or Adults?
Author Bio:
Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it.

She's the author of two books. She mainly writes suspense/thrillers in the YA genre, but she dabbles in other genres and her books are enjoyed by all ages!

She's constantly working on new novels and has more ideas than she knows what to do with. She blogs at, and which takes up more of her time than she anticipates but loves it so very much! She's also a volunteer at the World Literary Cafe which is so amazing!

She's an auntie to two beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews who take up the other half of her time, but she couldn't imagine spending her time in any other way!

She's a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number one in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.


Read Me Dead

Piercing Through the Darkness


  1. I often wonder about YA vs adult fiction when I'm reading and reviewing books. And now there's "new adult" too. I have to confess I enjoy YA books a lot, and I wonder if it's because the emotions and goals are more clearly defined.

    1. That's a good question. I connect with YA protagonists more as well. I think that definitely has a lot to do with why I love it.