Genres: Young Adult


The young adult genre seems so simple. However, not much could be further from the truth. That would be like saying, “Adult Fiction,” and stopping there. But we don’t do that, do we? So, let’s talk about real young adult fiction.

I’m going to go through the varying sub-genres of young adult fiction and non-fiction even though they are primarily the same as those for the adults. There is a twist, though, with the young adult genre with each of the sub-genres as they come off just a little different than they do with the same sets for adults.

So, let’s get started:

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  • Diary formats are popular with tweens and teens as it gives a feeling of the reader getting a glimpse into to the life of another tween or teen. It’s like spying into the personal life of a friend or foe of a classmate, which is always fun. These diaries can be written as fiction or non-fiction but usually recounts the day-to-day life of the main character.

The story can be a historical event such as the life of a slave or a slave owner during the Civil War. It could also be a recount of a young girl’s recollection of attending the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee when she was 11 years old in 1982. A popular fictional story is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney.

  1. Adventure has always been a favorite in the young adult section of literature. These stories most often involve the main character on an obstacle-filled journey. A great example is “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.
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  1. Inner conflict makes a great story and these stories generally fit into a subgenre called family and relationships. These books focus on children, teens, or adults who have an inner or interpersonal conflict at some point in their life and this includes coming of age stories that tell about a young person moving from childhood to adulthood in a tough way. It sometimes involves a relationship or bullying but can also involve having to make a major life decision.
  • Chick lit is highly popular in young adult fiction. Written by women, these stories are often light and funny dealing with dating, relationships, and romance.
  • Just like with adult fantasy, there are many sub-genres of juvenile fantasy. The sub-genres are the same but it is basically that you want to stay in the land of imagination. The worlds are imaginary, there are myths and lots of magic. J.K. Rowling broke this genre wide open when she began to publish her “Harry Potter” series, but don’t forget about “Lord of the Rings” by the great JRR Tolkien.
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  • When I say the classics, it seems rather obvious that I’m speaking of time-honored books. However, there are modern classics as well. A good example of a modern classic is the book, “Tomorrow When The War Began” by John Marsden.
  • The LGBTQIA genre is becoming more and more popular so let’s look at what all those letters mean. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (or sometimes Questioning), Intersex, and Asexual (or sometimes Allies). These stories focus on these subjects alone but can focus on any aspect of these subjects.
  • Contemporary Fiction deals with the present as we know it. These are the births that get recommended in the press, get critical acclaim, and stand out with young adults. A great example is Yann Martel’s “The Life of Pi.”
  • Graphic novels, or comics, are very popular for 6th through 12th graders and these come in both fiction and non-fiction. The full-length works are only readable through both the picture and the text together. Sometimes a graphic novel will appeal to a reluctant reader but other graphic novels are so sophisticated that it takes an experienced reader to understand and decipher the meanings within.
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  1. Another subgenre is dystopian fiction. In these stories, there is an alternate or new world or a futuristic society. There is usually a mix of any of the following:
  • Degradation in values
    • Social hierarchy
    • Terror
    • Oppression

This is a great genre for secondary school teachers, primarily those for media studies, science, and social studies.

  • Gore and blood-soaked gowns with screams in the night fill the pages of the horror genre. These stories deal with vampires and skeletons, the supernatural, ghosts, and demons. So, if your teen, or tween, loves the bumps in the night and blood-curling screams, then point them to the young adult horror section of your favorite library or bookstore.
  • Mystery has so many subgenres of its own but you can check out the blog on mystery and suspense to see those as they will be the same. The mystery genre for young adults is often more toned-down which is a mystery, which is surprising since horror is most certainly not.
  • History is a part of literature no matter what age group we are discussing. And historical fiction is always fun. These stories are set in a specific time a place in history in a specific country and possibly in a specific area of that country. It could be during a time of peace or war, political upheaval, family desperation, the beginning of a nation, or the ending of a race of people. If the story stays true to the historical facts, the story can be about love, war, peace, family, or whatever your heart desires.
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  • Stories that make the reader laugh out loud at themselves as they read about characters that remind themselves of the craziness of real life often bring those readers back for more and more. Readers need that comic relief. Readers need an opportunity, permission, to laugh at themselves and the absurdity of their own life. Authors who give their readers that permission are special and rare.
  1. If I could rhyme

And save a dime

I’d live in heaven

All the time….

  • Hey, I know it sounds cheesy, but I love to rhyme…. Poetry is my first love. That’s where it all began for me. The poem was “Candlelit Dreams” and I was 10 years old. I have it around here somewhere, it has been published in an anthology and I know what shelf it is on but I can’t get to that shelf right now. Yes, that’s my life. So many books that I can’t get to them all. Poor me!
  • Poetry leads the world. If you like good music, you like poetry. If you like Shakespeare and Chaucer, you like poetry. If you like dancing in the rain with the love of your life, you like poetry because that is exactly what poetry is. Poetry does not have to rhyme, however, that is my preference. Poetry is expression. However you want to say it, or show it, or feel it, poetry is the expression of love, or hate, or anger, or rage, or romance, or any other emotion, feeling, or thought you have. Poetry is the genre that keeps the world moving and for teens and tweens, this is even more true.

Yes, adults write more sophisticated poetry. But, think about a poem written by a 14-year-old girl A who just found out that her best friend B kissed the boy that girl A has been in “LOVE” with for a “minute”. That poem will be wrought with emotion. There will be love for that boy, jealousy of that missed kiss, hate for the best friend, and it will all be in that one poem. So, yes, poetry rules the world.

  • Romance can be a genre all on its own but it is often a feature in any of the other genres. A love story in Sci-Fi, a hero rescue with a heroine kiss in a horror story, and so on. But, romance stories just for the sake of romance are extremely popular. Think Harlequin. Then, think Harlequin: Carina Adores; Harlequin Intrigue; Harlequin Romance Suspense; Love Inspired Special Releases; Harlequin Desire; Harlequin Medical Romance; Harlequin Special Edition; Love Inspired Suspense; Harlequin Heartwarming; Harlequin Presents; Harlequin Special Releases; Harlequin Historical; Harlequin Romance; Love Inspired.

When you write romance, you have to keep the characters real. Please don’t waste the reader’s time with too many lines of jibber-jabber of nothing. I’m talking about fillers like “Hi, how are you today?” and “Great, How are you?” No one cares in real life so don’t bother asking in the book. Get to the meat of the conversation. It’s okay once, maybe twice during the entire book, but not every single time two or more people come together.

Also, romance scenes need to be believable. If you have any questions about how to write a romance scene, read other writer’s work and practice your craft.

  • Short stories are great and you can often say more in a short story than you can in a full-length novel. Why? Because you know you have fewer words so you keep it tight. You use better words – words that can be used to say many words so that you shorten the length. Or better, a word to shorten your manuscript.  See, that’s better.

Your manuscript should always be tight, but when you know you need to write 90,000 words, you may get a little wordy – avoid it. Writing short stories are a great way to learn to not be words and is a great way to be a lucrative writer with young adults.

Tweens and teens who have a short attention span appreciate the short stories. They want to read, but they can’t follow a novel. So, reading short stories helps them to be able to enjoy the worlds of writers while being about to walk away after a couple of hours or days.

  1. I love to read books about the paranormal. Supernatural is great, too. These two deal with the good and evil of the world, relationships, conflict, and many times there are creatures such as ghosts and ghouls, vampires, and werewolves.
  • Steampunk is hard to explain but it is sort of a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy. It has the technology that is included in the science side of it and there are gadgets and things like that from the 1800s. It’s sort of like smashing the Victorian age with modern technology.
  • Science Fiction explains itself but now we just call it Sci-Fi which can be a little confusing to some, like my Mom.

Science Fiction can be really fun. You get to imagine what the world might be like in the future. Think back to Star Wars in the ‘70s or my go-to is my Sci-fi cartoon, The Jetsons, I wanted to drive their cars. It’s so fun to dream of the future. My cousin, and very good friend, Bryan Shrewsbury, told me in 1988 that it would not be long before we could talk to each other on the computer without having to pay for a phone call. I didn’t believe him but it was kind of fun to dream about sitting comfortably in my chair and typing with my bestie cousin friends in Maryland (I’m in Tennessee). Lo and Behold, now, Bryan and I can Zoom, and FaceTime, and chat on cell phones wherever we are. We don’t have to wait until 11:01 p.m. and plan to be by the phone on a certain night to make a phone call so that we could call at the least expensive time to be able to talk longer.

And that’s what Sci-Fi is: looking to what you want the future to be and when you do, someone out there will see your masterful idea and will eventually make it happen. So, Sci-Fi lovers keep writing young adult fiction, you’re powering the future of technology!

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  • Reluctant readers often start with verse novels. They are a form of poetry and allow the reader to think about life, love, and more. They are often autobiographical.

These novels are a fast read and are told from the point of a single narrator. They are intimate and give details about the author that will surprise those who know him or her.

I’ve enjoyed this week with the young adult genre, and I hope that you all have, too. I’m excited to get back to adults next week where we will kick off on Tuesday with the Thriller genre. Maybe we’ll play some Michael Jackson while we talk about evil thing lurking under the moonlight. Maybe I’ll even make you scream!!!!

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So, have a great weekend and I’ll see you Tuesday!

Published by Crazee Chixz

Crazee Chixz Productions was created by two long-time friends, Christy Flanary Smith and Daphne Williams Matthews to showcase the beauty and talent of upper east Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and northwest North Carolina. Their podcast, Chit Chat with the Crazee Chixz, will focus on the art, music, local food and chefs, small business owners and much, much more. Check out their new format by reading our "New Beginnings" blog post!!!!!

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