What It Is Like To Write For Adult And Teen Audiences ...

It’s no secret that the YA genre is exploding, and teenage heroes and heroines make up more than a handful of the characters that readers are looking forward to spending time with. So it’s no surprise that many established authors are double dipping, crafting both adult and teen tales are a few of our favorite names in fiction. On Wednesday at the RT Booklovers Convention, authors Ann Aguirre, Jenna Black, Sophie Jordan, Jeri Smith-Ready and Rachel Vincent’s conversation was moderated by Kelley Armstrong during the afternoon’s “The Kids are ‘Alright’ Adult to YA Fiction” panel. The topic was what it takes to transition back and forth across the line and these authors certainly  provided an insiders’ look at  some of the perks — and pitfalls — of “going both ways.”

The authors all agreed that when it comes to “genre-jumping” and moving to writing YA, that’s a little bit misleading.

Jenna Black shared, “I never really made a decision to write YA. I had a world I wanted to write in, and I couldn't come up with a storyline that excited me enough to start writing. Since nothing else was working, I asked myself ‘what if the heroine were a teenager?’ That's when I came up with a story idea that excited me.”

Sophie Jordan agreed, “It wasn't such a leap to make the change and write romance for teens. Falling in love is part of the human condition - it's not age specific.”

But there are some small differences to the writing that readers can find in teen versus the adult books. Ann Aguirre shared that, “For story and worldbuilding reasons, I keep the cursing pretty much out of my YA books, but that wasn't a YA decision. I mean, kids cuss more than I do in the real world. They already know those words, I promise. As for sexual content, my love scenes, if and when there are any, would probably be less graphic to fit with the style of other books in the genre. When I write fight scenes, I don't pull any punches, though.”

Jeri Smith-Ready said that she believes when it comes to writing YA, it's "easier to tap into the emotions of a moment." She continued saying that it's because those feelings are all right there, they are front and present. And when it comes to romance in her teen reads the author shares, "love scenes? it's more the emotions than 'Tab A' and 'Slot B'" because for a lot of teens, this is their first meaningful relationship.

Meanwhile, Rachel Vincent spoke to how her writing changed depending on who she was writing for, “My YAs are aimed at the older end of the "teen" timeline, and teen readers are smart, so there's really no change in vocabulary, and the changes in style are dictated by the fictional world and the characters' personalities, not the age of the target readers. The only real difference is in perspective. The characters have to think, speak, and act like teens.”

And sometimes it’s not so much about the authors defining their styles for YA readers versus the adult audience, but the covers which lend an air of "teen" or "adult." But a quick look at some of these author's recent book covers may have you wondering who these reads are aimed at …

Can you guess which book is meant for which audience?

(Select A for Adult Novel or B for Teen Book)


Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the answer key

For more news about YA reads, Chicago-area fans should be sure to come check out our second annual Teen Day this Saturday from 11:00 am to 7:30 pm. You’ll meet some of your favorite authors in YA Alley, take part in workshops lead by bestselling writers, mix and mingle with authors and fans at the Teen Party and of course, go home with tons of free books and swag. And for more YA coverage all year round visit the RT’s Everything Young Adult Page!

Answer Key: A, B, B, B, A, B