Why Write for Young Adults?

On my About Seventh Story Studio page, I briefly introduce my intentions for this project. I thought it might be helpful to list three of the reasons why I want to write for a young adult audience.

  • Young adult literature is what I like to read. Although many of my favorite books are decidedly more “advanced” than Harry Potter, and some of my favorite authors are decidedly more dead than J.K. Rowling, in general, I read because I like an exciting and fast-paced story. Les Miserables is one of my favorite books of all time, but Jean Valjean (bless him) sure isn’t keeping my heart rate running rampant for 1,500 pages with swashbuckling escapades. Les Miserables just isn’t that kind of book. Fairly often, I read because I just want to be absorbed and entertained. I don’t really want to “think.” I want to dream and imagine. Young adult literature does that for me. It lets me be a kid.
  • I like clean stories. I do. Heaven’s knows not all young adult literature is squeaky clean, and not all adult literature is dirty, but in my experience, your chances of getting a safe young adult book are higher. Many of my favorite stories can be read aloud. I would have no qualms about reading Harry Potter, Fablehaven, or The Hunger Games to my hypothetical children during a long car ride. If I read a book, I want to be able to read the whole thing without needing to abridge it for sensitive ears. I avoid awkwardness like I avoid touching the mildewed shower curtain in the downstairs bathroom; reading an “adult” scene aloud is just plain awkward.
  • Young adult literature invites freedom. Stories can be quirky. Characters can be exaggerated. Magic can happen. Many adults don’t tolerate too much weirdness. Middle school practically breeds weirdness and feeds it to kids in their cafeteria-generated macaroni surprise. Young adults can suspend disbelief. I recently read the book When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. The answer to the very plausible mystery is completely implausible (spoiler alert!): time travel. Yet, I believe it. Rebecca Stead writes so well, I would believe anything she told me. I think if the same thing happened in a book marketed for adults, the book would end up in the sale bin. Young adult authors have so much more freedom because their readers give it to them.
In short, I want to write for young adults because it’s what I like. I like quirkiness. I like excitement. Tomorrow, I’ll start brainstorming some ideas for my book. I hope to embody some middle school weirdness. Stay tuned!

 

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