YA mystery VS A mystery

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Crystal
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YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Crystal » January 4th, 2010, 4:19 pm

I am writing a mystery and in that I am trying to decide if it is YA or not.

Now I know that YA is usually shorter and geared toward younger readers. But right now my problems is this, size wise I feel it is going to be short at around 3k a chapter, but content wise I feel I am (or easily could be) heading in the more adult arena. I have a murder scene if you will that my hubs is saying is quite graphic and I am currently writing a loving moment that could get quite adult if I allow it.

So here is my question, should I write it on the more adult side and hope that in my editing and what not I can beef it up to more of an adult size book or should I kid it down and just shoot for the YA area? OR a 3rd option could be to write the adult book...not care about length...and if an agent/publisher picks it up and says "hey we want to market this as YA" I can clean it up?

I am so confused and it is hindering my progress. I need to solve this issue (or just get past it) soon.

Thanks.
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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marilyn peake
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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by marilyn peake » January 4th, 2010, 4:33 pm

A literary agent would know much better than I do, but I think you should just write the novel however you think it will turn out best and then decide how it should be categorized. Some adult novels are short (e.g. THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy) and some children's and YA novels are long (HARRY POTTER and TWILIGHT series of novels).
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

Ermo
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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Ermo » January 4th, 2010, 4:33 pm

This is a first draft, right? Just write your book. By that, I mean don't try and steer it anywhere it doesn't want to go. Perhaps you'll realize that there are back stories and sub plots that you want to add that will lengthen it or maybe you'll find that you don't need that graphic romantic interlude. From the little I know, it sounds like an adult book that will be expanded upon in future drafts.

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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Kaitlyne » January 4th, 2010, 6:45 pm

I don't write YA, so take this with a grain of salt, but I've seen similar questions answered elsewhere so I'll share what I've learned. Apparently YA is as much about voice as it is the age of the protagonist. I'm wondering how exactly a teenager fits into a murder mystery, honestly. I suppose it could work and I used to read books like that when I was a kid (though with a paranormal twist, not so much "real world" books). How old is the protagonist? What sort of voice do you use? Are you writing a young protagonist from the perspective of an adult looking back?

From what I've heard, you can have sex and gore and violence in YA. I know it was around when I was a kid (particularly gore and violence, but I'd seen a few with sex as well). It might be handled in a different way, but I've heard many times from YA writers that content doesn't have to be dumbed down, so to speak, for the younger audience. It's more a matter of how you're telling the story. How much YA have you read? It might be a good idea to go pick up a couple and see how yours compares, but as far as I know, length and content are not the two main considerations.

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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Alexandra Little » January 4th, 2010, 6:45 pm

What age is the protagonist? I've found that content and length don't matter so much when compared to the protagonist. If you're protagonist is an adult, then it's adult mystery. If your protagonist is a teen and handles the mystery as a teen, then it's YA. If you're worried about "content," there's plenty graphic sex, blood, death, dismemberment, rape, abortion, etc. in YA.

What do you mean by "clean it up"?
WIP #1: young adult fantasy, rewriting/editing
WIP #2: young adult fantasy, first draft
WIP #3: young adult fantasy, twinkle in the author's eye

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Crystal
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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Crystal » January 4th, 2010, 7:01 pm

Marilyn and Ermo, thank you, I was thinking I should just write and see where it goes but I guess being a mom of a 12 year old that would read anything I put in her hands I am a bit cautious of the content I feel should be in a YA novel.

Kaitlyne and Alexandra, My protag is very much an adult and doing adult things. She owns a biz, and has this trauma in her life but in a lot of ways she is also very much a child, especially in the love department. The story is being told from her POV present. I guess when I think clean it up I very much so mean take out the sex and gore. I have read all the Twilight and all the Harry Potter books. I have read the first in the Percey Jackson series and I am getting ready to read the second one.

I guess I need to expand my YA horizons past what I would let my 12 yr old read huh? lol. Any suggestions (Oh don't worry Nathan I have every intention of reading the Secret Year!)
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

askmonkey
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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by askmonkey » January 4th, 2010, 9:56 pm

I know this isn't a book but, have you seen Veronica Mars? It was cancelled some years back, but you can rent it on netflix and probably at your local video store. Basically it was a mystery show centered around a high school girl who was mature for her age and was handling some pretty heavy issues such as her own rape (which was discussed from the pilot episode!!). However, she WAS still in high school and had high school issues like boyfriends, parent issues, etc. so if it were a book, I would call it YA even though it was popular with adults.

However, I'm not so sure YA readers would identify with an adult character with an adult business and adult problems solving a mystery, never mind how gory it is. It sounds like that's what your book is. Just write the best book you can and worry about the length later. It could be when you go back and revise the whole thing you'll be able to figure out what's missing and what should be expanded.

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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Kaitlyne » January 5th, 2010, 1:31 am

I think if your main character is an adult and it's her point of view, then the novel is automatically going to be adult, even if she is immature in some ways. You might just have a shorter novel. How many words do you have at this point? I've typically seen anything 60k and up is considered novel length, however it would be a pretty short novel, and 70k is a bit better to aim for.

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Re: YA mystery VS A mystery

Post by Alexandra Little » January 5th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Adult protagonist = adult genre. Even having a 19-year-old protagonist is pushing it for YA. YA is typically concerned with 12-18 years, but some publishers will consider YA to be 14-18.

You say your protagonist is a child in a lot of ways, but don't mistake immaturity in a protagonist as being a qualifying factor for YA. Many teen readers won't read an immature protagonist, and by classifying immaturity as a YA thing it is very easy to fall into a trap of "preaching" to your readers.

I can't speak much about mysteries (I only read J.D. Robb's In Death series, which is adult futuristic suspense) but if you have more questions about YA I can answer them or direct you to more professional sources.
WIP #1: young adult fantasy, rewriting/editing
WIP #2: young adult fantasy, first draft
WIP #3: young adult fantasy, twinkle in the author's eye

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