1. IF YOU SAY THE WORD “GENRE,” I’M GOING TO TEAR GAS YOUR MOTHER
Young Adult is not a genre. I hear that often — “the YA genre.” You’re wrong. Don’t call it that. Stop it. Young Adult is a proposed age range for those who wish to read a particular book. It is a demographic rather than an agglomeration of people who like to read stories about, say, Swashbuckling Dinosaur Princesses or Space Manatee Antiheroes or whatever the cool kid genres are these days. Repeat after me: Young Adult is not a genre designation. See? Not so hard.
2. AND THAT AGE RANGE IS…
“Teenager.” Young adult books are generally written for teenagers. I’ve seen 12-18, but really, just call it “teenager” and be done with it. (The age range before it is “middle grade,” which runs roughly from 8-12.) This is where someone in the back of the room grouses about how when he was a young reader they didn’t have young adult books and he read whatever he could get his hands on, by gum and by golly — he read the Bible and Tolkien and Stephen King and Henry Miller and Penthouse and he did it backwards, in the snow, besieged by ice tigers. “In my day we didn’t need teenage books! We took what books we had and liked it! I once read a soup can for days!” I’ll cover that in more detail, but for now, I’ll leave you with this lovely Nick Hornby quote: “I see now that dismissing YA books because you’re not a young adult is a little bit like refusing to watch thrillers on the grounds that you’re not a policeman or a dangerous criminal, and as a consequence, I’ve discovered a previously ignored room at the back of the bookstore that’s filled with masterpieces I’ve never heard of.”
3. YOUNG ADULT IN FACT RUNS GIGGLING OVER MANY, MANY GENRES
Young Adult can be whatever you want. It can be epic fantasy. It can be space opera. It can be (and often is) dystopia. It can be elf romance. It can be funny cancer. It can be ghosts and fast cars and serial killers and Nazi Germany and one might even say that it operates best when it karate-slaps all your genre conventions in the face, when genres run and swirl together like paint and make new colors and form new ideas and change the way you think about stories.
4. IT SHOULD FEATURE A TEEN PROTAGONIST
5. THIS TEEN PROTAGONIST SHOULD IDEALLY SUFFER FROM TEEN PROTAGONIST PROBLEMS
6. SEX, DRINKING, DRUGS
7. THE HORMONE TORNADO AND THE UNFINISHED BRAIN
8. WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A TEEN?
9. THE PREVALENCE OF FIRST-PERSON POINT-OF-VIEW
10. THE PREPONDERANCE OF PRESENT TENSE
11. SHORTER, PUNCHIER BOOKS
12. PACIER, CHATTIER BOOKS
13. THE ROLE OF THE ADULT CHARACTER
14. THE TEENS SOUND LIKE ADULTS
15. BUT THEY SHOULD ALWAYS ACT LIKE TEENS
16. RISKIER STORIES
17. MORE “ADULT” STORIES
18. VERY HARD TO COMPARE TO FILM RATINGS
19. ADULTS LIKE IT
20. SOMETHING-SOMETHING NEW ADULT
21. AS ALWAYS, HELL WITH TRENDS
22. YOU ARE READING YOUNG ADULT, RIGHT?
23. OF WANING SNOBBERY
24. TEEN SELF-PUBLISHING SQUAD
25. YOU’RE NOT MY MOM!
26. BIG-ASS MARKET SHARE
27. GENRES BEING CODIFIED
28. GOOD STORY IS GOOD STORY NO MATTER THE AGE RANGE
Read more here.