Ok maybe this is a writing question,

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JustSarah
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Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 5:01 pm

What generally distinguishes an adult novel written about kids, and a young adult novel written about young adults? I'm sort of wanting to learn how Young Adults lives work so I can write about them, but I don't exactly want the young adults to be the ones that solve the problems all the time.

Sometimes the adults are right, sometimes the young adults are right, other times the adults are right however young adults are forced to grow up really really fast, and some I have a hard time making them seem like young adult characters.

I know at some point my story takes a depressing direction, where children are still dependent on adults, but because there are no more adults, they are forced to learn to adapt. Are their any books out there that could solve this problem about them not seeming like middle and high school kids? Child and YA psychology study books I mean, not novels.

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Re: Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by Sommer Leigh » October 25th, 2012, 7:13 pm

I write YA and the best way to learn about writing about young adults is to read other contemporary young adult literature. The best way to learn about young adults to talk to young adults. Psychology books are probably not going to tell you about the culture of being a teen right now.

You know you're writing a YA book if the main themes revolve around coming of age issues. There can be lots of adults in a YA, but the main character should be a young adult (though this is not necessarily a hard and fast rule, but the exceptions are very few and far between) and there must be a coming of age thread to your narrative.

An adult book that features young adults does not have coming of age themes as its central point and primarily revolves around an adult world, adult issues, adult problems, and adult themes, even if there happen to be young adults involved. An adult book does not focus on the young adult's coping and growth through the plot.

There can be adult issues, adult situations, adult language, and adult themes in YA, but the story is told through the eyes of a young adult trying to deal with them.

A good example:
Harry Potter is a book about a kid wizard and his coming of age story. This is written for kids.
Lev Grossman's The Magician is about a kid wizard in adult situations but there is no coming of age story. This is written for adults.
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JustSarah
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Re: Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by JustSarah » October 25th, 2012, 7:23 pm

How can you figure out of your story fits into a coming of age sort of thing? I know my character at some people grow up in military school.

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polymath
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Re: Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by polymath » October 26th, 2012, 7:28 am

Young adult coming of age is initiation into the rights and privileges, obligations and responsibilities of adulthood. Adulthood's duties. It is the trial period when apprentice adults enjoy a degree of behavioral latitude and forebearance full adults don't. Young adults test the boundaries of authority, discover limitations, and forge adult self-identity independent of guardian imposed identity. Experimentation and rebelliousness are common.

This is the age of familial detachment processes. It is the fledgling testing its wings, so to speak, learning the way into the air and away from the natal nest. The fledgling encounters resistance, fears, anxieties, support, encouragement, and rewards and failures. It is the time of freedom to practice free will and fearless invulnerability and independence, yet with a safety net to fall back on.

This is when humans develop a sense of independence and its consequences, challenges, and failures. It is when children learn to choose for themselves, wisely or otherwise. It is when children demand to be heard and abided, rather than made to behave. When children insist they know better than their adult mentors, teachers, and guardians what's best for themselves, though they know no better, perhaps for the worse, than their elders.

Young adulthood is a solemn and sacred time which is too easily overlooked by children, juveniles, and adults alike. It is but a leg on the journey of life, a formative one that endures and influences the outcome, the destination, be it contributory to a greater good for society or a detraction from the greater good. Some don't figure out what's for the best until later, some much later. Some never do.
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JustSarah
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Re: Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by JustSarah » October 26th, 2012, 3:17 pm

I guess I'm sort of subverting the adult/child relationship? Its one of those downer things where a YA is dependent on their parents, but their parents are dead. They are forced to because life is out of control, and they must choose between death or subservience. Its not a "Schools out forever." type of rebellious culture, but rather an obediant culture similar to that of the 1940's and 1950's. They look at adults for guidance, but adults are simply dead, leaving a cruel AI headmaster in their wake who cares more about conquering the universe than helping them grow.

Edit: I'm not sure how many books this is going to make. I'm sort of doing setting development right now. Its a "catch all" world that encompasses about two unrelated trilogies so far.

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polymath
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Re: Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by polymath » October 26th, 2012, 9:41 pm

JustSarah wrote:I guess I'm sort of subverting the adult/child relationship? Its one of those downer things where a YA is dependent on their parents, but their parents are dead. They are forced to because life is out of control, and they must choose between death or subservience. Its not a "Schools out forever." type of rebellious culture, but rather an obediant culture similar to that of the 1940's and 1950's. They look at adults for guidance, but adults are simply dead, leaving a cruel AI headmaster in their wake who cares more about conquering the universe than helping them grow.

Edit: I'm not sure how many books this is going to make. I'm sort of doing setting development right now. Its a "catch all" world that encompasses about two unrelated trilogies so far.
Subversion is good. That's one of the tests of young adulthood, as well as a powerful undercurrent for prose writing. The young stag challenges the old stag for dominance at every turn, for example. Does issue their own challenges to matrons, too. Maybe the clash for dominance is between a young doe and an old stag.

Young adults coming of age without familial guidance might say something about presupposed notions about age. Young people are capable of a degree of self-determination that adults often believe they aren't. Consequently, parents tend to hover over their offspring long after their children need close supervision and make their children dependent upon them and unprepared for adult life, for example.

The kinds of passage rites, intiation rites young people engage in today substitute for formal parental and societal passage rites. Young adults may have less formal passage rites today than of ye olden times. Their rites may outwardly appear senseless and awkward, be informal, pointless, but they serve the same functions and have similar outcomes. And they are no less and no more, per se, hazardous and potentially meaningful than the formal rites of old. Marking passage milestones into adulthood. One distinction is the rites are of the young people's milieus, not adults', who can't possibly understand at all. That's a powerful societal change that emerged, or came out into the open, since the middle 20th century. Not to mention, that kind of theme appeals to young adults and their rebellious inclinations.

In the obverse, young adults making passage into adulthood under the indifferent guidance of an AI guardian could speak volumes about how families often experience and perpetuate similar emotional neglect, and appeal to young adults who have been emotionally neglected.
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JustSarah
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Re: Ok maybe this is a writing question,

Post by JustSarah » October 26th, 2012, 11:22 pm

I have an outline currently of roughly 102 story arc questions about the plot for me now. And then usually it takes about roughly a day per question to fully answer each.

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