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Thursday, December 23, 2010

There Are Exceptions to Every Rule

This is going to be short this month because what’s on my mind takes little to actually say, but I think it bears saying. Repeatedly.

I was in attendance once at an online twitter chat during which writers, both published and unpublished, and editors were talking about age and YA. I remember this chat vividly because there was one writer who doggedly insisted that YA spanned the high school experience and anything outside of that was not YA and therefore teenagers would not be interested.

I tried to tell her that there are exceptions to every rule, but she wasn’t having it. And because my book--which features a protagonist who is not in high school and one birthday away from no longer being a teenager--was at auction at the time, I couldn’t yet give her proof from personal experience. But now I can.

There are exceptions to every rule.

I’m not saying we should throw everything we know about teen fiction out the window, write whatever we want, and proclaim it YA. The lines were drawn where they are because, for the most part, they work very well. Teenagers do like reading about high school students like themselves. They like reading about ordinary teens who have extraordinary powers or who fall in love with immortal beings. But we can’t cram all teenagers in one box and say “This is what they like.”

There are exceptions to every rule.

So write the story that’s in your heart. If it’s YA, you’ll know it. And if someone tells you that your story features a time period that’s “not historical enough” or a protagonist who is “too old” think twice.

Because there are exceptions to every rule.

7 comments:

  1. True and true.

    And such magical words inside your post, my book was at auction at the time. :)

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  2. So true. I think you just have to know what rules you're breaking.

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  3. CJ, agreed. Any WHY you're breaking them.

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  4. Couldn't have said it better! Especially as someone who loves being the exception :) And who cannot wait to read your exceptional book!

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  5. So true! I think that young adult-dom continues into college, at least!
    Congrats on being an exception!

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  6. This particular 'rule' always baffles me. I write MG and am always hearing that kids want to 'read up' ie about characters who're a little older than them - why wouldn't this apply to teens? Personally when I was a teen I would've loved to read (for example) about characters at university, so I could see what was waiting for me (not to mention most people go to uni when they're still 18 or 19). I mean, the films I watched at 16 weren't all set in schools by a long shot, so why should books have to be?

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