YA, Or Not

As I was working on my 1920s WIP the other day, I realized something important.

This is not a YA story.

The heroine and the hero, you see, have already come of age. Yes, the heroine is nineteen, but she is fully self-aware. The hero is in his mid-twenties. Both have lived through the War, both came of age during that time. This story is more about moving from young adult to fully adult, in the heroine’s case, and in the hero’s case – again, he’s already adult, and he is more learning just some good, healthy life lessons (like, don’t underestimate women – particularly one woman in particular!).

So. This puts me in a quandary. Either I make some major changes – changes that would alter the entire story (set it before the War, when they are younger? Make the house party one hosted and attended by parental figures, instead of heroine’s personal friends? Keep it after the War and just have them live through it, instead of being personally involved? Somehow this is starting to sound like Muppet Babies or the like – take characters already established and just drop them in age) (did I seriously just make a Muppet Babies reference in this post?), OR I drop the entire idea of YA and just accept that this is an alternate-history adventure-fantasy, end thought.

I’m leaning toward the latter. Except I’m starting to panic, because everything that I’ve looked up in reference to agents and marketing etc has been YA. Are there other stories like this out there? Is there even a genre for alternate-history adventure-fantasy? (Outlander? I’ve never read any of the stories, but I have a vague idea those are somewhat similar) Do I go for the fantasy genre or the adventure/mystery genre? Do I cut out the fantasy along with the YA and just have it be a historical adventure?

So many questions. One of these days I’m going to write something uncomplicated.

How boring will that be!

Have you ever gotten halfway through a project and realized it’s not what you had originally planned? Which is more important to you, sticking within your genre or sticking with your characters and plot? Do you think an alternate-history adventure-fantasy would have a market in the adult crowd? Did you watch Muppet Babies as a kid?

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9 thoughts on “YA, Or Not

  1. This might be something you just want to leave to the agents and editors to decide, and write it as is. I definitely think there'd be a market for it, once that market is found. I was thinking when I was reading the last Montmaray book that it's starting to feel more YA-Adult Crossover rather than straight YA– not for like, you know, GRAPHIC INAPPROPRIATENESS reasons, just for, like you said, different more adult mindsets– beyond coming-of-age and into what-do-I-do-with-this-age-now-that-I'm-here. And I've heard buzz about people wanting more books set at that age level– true young adulthood rather than teen. So I would write the book as it wants to be written and leave the marketing decisions to the people who decide that sort of thing for a living.

  2. The next predicted market is post YA or older YA (college age and post-college, who are looking for something different than what's out there right now). I'd say write the story you're writing. It may be that when it's done, the market will be there.

  3. I wish I had some good info for you. I don't know whether an alternate-history-adventure-fantasy genre exists or not, or exactly what boundaries define what genres. I think you have to write the story you want to write. If you are really in a panic, you can always attend an agent panel somewhere and ask your questions. Also, some agents hold chats on twitter. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  4. I'm going to answer your most important question first: yes, I totally watched Muppet Babies as a kid. And now I have the theme song playing in my head. Thanks for that. ;)As for the actually important question, I'm with the previous commenters: write the story you want to write and then either let the agents figure out how to market it, or tweak it later if and when you decide on the audience you're aiming for.

  5. Rockinlibrarian – It's good having a librarian's opinion on this – you get to see most of what's already here, what's coming up, and what people are reading and wanting. So yay, encouraging news for me!Connie – you mean, for once in my life I might be in tune with a trend, instead of a step or two behind it? Sweet.Kirsten – I hadn't even thought about Twitter chats for agents; good advice, thanks!Kristen – I'm so glad I'm not the only one with that song stuck in my head now :-)

  6. Alternate-history adventure-fantasy is a growing niche, fed in part by the steampunk novel phenomenon as well as postmodern fiction and revisionist history. I've enjoying some cracking good tales in the last 3 years in that area, and I think it's on the rise, based on what I see in stores and hear about on book blogs. Either way I would advise sticking to your current timeline rather than taking your characters back a few years, not just because of the Muppet Baby syndrome, but also because you imagined them this age, and I think that is important in capturing the characters' vitality.

  7. Beautifulmonday – very true, about the fact that they pretty much sprang to life full-grown in my imagination, and dropping them in years would definitely make them feel flatter – to me, if not to anyone else.

  8. Louise, the projected trend for "New Adult" is admittedly untested, mostly a theory right now, but that doesn't mean it won't pick up soon! Even if you end up marketing it as adult, there is nothing wrong with that.Also, there is ABSOLUTELY an adult market for alternate history/fantasy. I suggest you check out Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, MK Hobson's Native Star and possibly Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, to start. Diana Gabaldon is not so much alternate history as she is magical realism; she doesn't alter history to match her adaptation, she just writes history with a touch of the fantastical (a lower-key version would be the ghost of Uncle Matthew in Busman's Honeymoon).Kudos to you for recognising where it DOESN'T fit; I know some people have trouble with that, thinking that just because a character is of a certain age it must be YA. Don't warp your story to fit the genre; write the story you need to write, and then worry about how to pitch it once you've got it done.I would, of course, be more than delighted to wrestle with that issue with you, once/if you are ready to share ;)

  9. Thanks for the recs, Andrea! And I will be very happy to share this story with you, and hear your opinion on it, if I ever get to the point where it is shareable. Which, admittedly, is most likely far into the future.

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