For this month on Writing Outside the Lines, the topic is YA. What is it? What does that term actually mean or include? 

    To define it simply – at least, according to me (for whatever that's worth) – YA literature is a category of books that feature young adult characters. Within that broad category are subgenres, including fantasy, historical fiction, mystery/suspense, and humor. And, within those categories are lots and lots of opportunities to find a story and characters in in which to relate or gain perspective. 

    Since the books involve young adult characters ranging in age from 12-23 (roughly, give or take), some like to think of the genre as for that readership as well – and, it is, but it’s also for anyone open to reading about this age group/time of life. More than ever, YA is being consumed by non-YA readers – for the better or the worse, as some will argue.

Of course, as mentioned, all of this is in simple terms and generally speaking. Ask someone else and you’ll likely get a different answer. The YA of twenty years ago, when my first book came out, is certainly not the YA of today. Times have changed and content has adapted. 

What I don’t think has changed? Envelopes; they have always been pushed, in YA and elsewhere. Boundaries have forever been tested. And, gatekeepers and cheerleaders will always be there (keeping the content from being read and shouting about it to others, respectively).  

In addition to all of the above, for me, YA is (or can be):


1.     Constantly evolving, like everything else, including the way we receive content. 

2.     An opportunity to find characters that are like you in some way and/or going through similar things as you. (More so now than ever.)

3.     An opportunity to find characters that aren’t like you at all, that aren’t living a life that resembles yours in any way/most ways. In this way, it’s an opportunity to learn about others/others’ situations.

4.     A form of escape, a welcome diversion or distraction.

5.     A way to feel less alone, a place to find solace.

6.     A relatively inexpensive form of entertainment (and free with a library card).

7.     A means to form and find community.

8.     Nostalgic.

9.     Triggering.

10.  Educational.





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