The young adult genre targets a teenage audience, meaning 13-19 years old. A plethora of times I have read a YA novel and thought to myself that the main character acted in a way any normal teenager wouldn’t. YA authors can completely miss the mark sometimes, so here are some tips to keep in mind when writing for this age range.
- We don’t send texts in shorthand. Using shorthand when your characters are texting is the fastest possible way to tell your reader that you haven’t interacted with an actual teen in the last five years. The only exception is ‘LOL,’ but use even this sparingly.
- We don’t try too hard to be ourselves, we just are. Authors have a problem emphasizing their character’s quirk or trait. I highly encourage adding diverse characters to your novel, but do not give your character a spotlight and trophy for something that should be considered normal to them.
- Not every teen has a love interest at all times. PLEASE give your characters depth to their fictional life by having them focus on more important things than a poorly written sweetheart. Don’t ruin a good plot by throwing in unneeded romance that waters down the strength of an independent character.
- Make the actions of your teen characters logical. There are countless instances in YA novels of a character acting irrationally for no good reason. Yes, this age is overloaded with uncontrollable emotions, but give your character plausible, real reactions. DON’T write your character randomly getting angry or irrational just to add more tension to the plot.
- Be deliberate with your novel. Plan out your plot, develop your characters, write the story clearly and concisely, end it. I’m tired of series that could lose about 400 pages or more because it was uselessly filling the plot. Authors, please stop following trends and making your novel the equivalent to the 50 other books that everyone else has read already.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here. Let me know in the comments below what your biggest YA pet peeve is! For more helpful hints on what makes a YA novel successful, you can check out this article!