I started this month’s theme on YA fiction with a post about why you might want to write YA. I’ll wrap up with three reasons I write YA fiction.
My Natural Bent
I can’t fight it. I just seem to think in terms of a teen. In 2017, I was invited to write a short story set in Ohio with a Christian worldview. It could be any genre, any time period, as long as the setting was Ohio. I had the freedom to write any story I chose. I tried writing a humor piece based on a misadventure my sisters and I had during one Christmas when I was in college. As my husband kindly put it, humor is not my thing. I ended up writing “Debt to Pay”, a country noir set in Wayne National Forest and told from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old boy. This was published in an anthology, From the Lake to the River.
Last year, I had another opportunity to contribute to an anthology. Again, it was tied to Ohio, this time to its literary heritage. I changed course and wrote an inverse mystery from the POV of an elitist New York novelist who comes to my fictional Marlin County, Ohio, to plan a crime. This mystery became “Bovine” in Ohio Trail Mix. Writing from the perspective of an adult character stretched my imagination, but I still think I write best from the perspective of a teen or young adult because …
Teens Makes Great Amateur Detectives
A story that has an amateur solve mysteries is already asking the readers to suspend their disbelief. I think it’s easier for readers to do this if the amateur detective is a teen. Why? Because certain behaviors in a teen are understandable. Teens take risks that would make adults looks childish. They also make mistakes that lead to all sorts of plot complications because they are just learning how the world works. An adult wouldn’t commit nearly as many of those mistakes, making the adult characters more believable but less fun.
In my Christmas mystery, “A Rose from the Ashes”, nineteen-year-old Rae Riley comes to Marlin County to discover her father and her mother’s assailant and if the two are the same man. She does this secretly, entirely alone. A forty-year-old digging into family history might try to hire a private investigator. And a forty-year-old would certainly hesitate to confront a possible killer alone at an abandoned house with only a rifle as protection. A teen would think she could do it.
It’s Easier to Make Teens Grow
When creating a main character, writers are advised to make the character believe a lie, spend the story uncovering the truth, embracing that truth, and then the character has grown and changed by the end of the story.
This is fine character development for a stand alone story. But I find it difficult to sustain that sort of structure over a series. Eventually, the main adult character is going to look like dope because he or she has believed so many lies. Not that it’s not true in real life. I just find it hard to pull off in fiction.
But the teen period of life is a time of growth and change already. That makes teens perfect as a series main character. As he learns about life, he changes over the course of the series.
Why do you write in the genre or genres that you do?