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The New Adult Genre

So, recently I've gotten into Wattpad in a big way. Not only have I been putting a few chapters of Sterling Silver on there every Saturday, but I've also found some of the best books on there as well! And you know what? Most of them I would categorize as New Adult. This genre is something I've heard about but never really explored until now.

I've heard about the New Adult genre enough to know what it is. When it first surfaced I did a lot of research about it, having been interested in the creation of a new genre for, well, new adults. But at the time I hadn't considered myself a "new adult." I was still like seventeen and still very much in love with the MG and YA genre. I don't think that will ever change. The MG and YA genres will always be where I read the most books and I don't see that changing any time soon.

But after reading a few of these Wattpad books, I realized how much I had forgotten how good it feels to read about a character you can relate to so much. I had forgotten what it was like to read about a character who was going through the same things, the same transitions and feelings as you. I don't relate so much to the coming of age stories or the stories of the teenagers getting through the woes of high school. (To be honest, I only related to some of what went on in those high school books, seeing how I was homeschooled during high school). None of those characters are starting or going through college. None of them are figuring out who they are, what they want to do with their lives, where they fit in. None of them stand on unsure footing as so much changes all around them. But these Wattpad books? These characters are going through the same thing as me and I relate to them so much (some more than others).

But this isn't the point of my post. The point is, after devouring works of Bella Higgins and Lovepenny and now K.D. Campbell on there, I went to the library in search of books like them. Where the characters are college age, my age and in the same season of life as me. I'll admit I don't think I searched hard enough, but that's just the thing. If you want an Adult book or a YA or MG book, you don't have to search at all. You just go to their designated spots in the library and pick out a book. But it's nearly impossible to find any NA books, especially ones that are decent. Having rekindled my interest in this mysterious genre I decided to do some research. (And my research I mean Google New Adult and see what popped up). One of the articles was talking about why this genre hasn't taken off yet and the stigma of NA. I didn't know about the stigma, but after reading about it and seeing the many NA books that popped up above the articles it makes sense. NA books are more or less known as erotic YA. Think Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses books. And after reading that and really thinking about it, I realized that's exactly how I saw the New Adult genre too. Because the few NA books I have read, have been graphic and full of tons of swearing. You know, because that's what all new adults between 18-25 want in their books. They don't want any depth or meaning. But that seems to be what the publishers are picking up and selling to this age range while the teenagers get to read books full of deep themes, meaningful characters and development. Most of the YA books coming out right now have some kernel of political significance too. So why aren't the NA books getting the same treatment?

When I read that article and then compared the published NA books with the ones I'm reading on Wattpad, it really doesn't make any sense. The characters I'm reading about on Wattpad are all around my age. Eighteen-early twenties. They not only deal with the magical and fantastical and usually a lot of horrible stuff happening to them, but they also deal with the changes and transitions that comes with being a new adult. Starting or being in the middle of or even ending college. Getting your first real job. Falling in love for the first time. Deepening friendships and family ties and romantic relationships. Figuring out your place in the world. Yeah I know, in reality that last one isn't all that simple, but in books there's a thing called a plot and character development and usually by the end of the plot the character has a pretty good idea on where they fit in with this world. There isn't a lot of sex scenes or even making out in these Wattpad books. If there's romance, its deep and meaningful  and slow, progressing as a normal relationship would in the real world. There's like no swearing at all in any of them either and yet they still manage to be amazing NA books. I love them so much more for the non-graphicness of them. So why can't publishers actually publish books like this? Half of these Wattpad books I'm reading, they so deserve publication. In my opinion, they're better than some of the most popular published books I've read.

To kind of deviate from this rant a little bit, I realized maybe that's why I've been so resistant against writing in this genre. I've always written either characters that are my age, a year younger or a year older. As I've gotten older my characters have gone from early teens, to teenagers, to late teens and... its stopped there. I know there are some full-fledged adults out there who exclusively write in the YA and MG genre and that's great. But I want to branch out. I want my characters to be eighteen, nineteen now. I want them to be a little older, out of high school and living the college experience I've lived the past few years. But I've been hesitant. I've been playing it safe because I have no desire to have graphic scenes and language in my books. That isn't me. I am not that writer. Before I explored Wattpad, I really thought that's how it had to be though. That those were the rules of the genre. If I wanted to write a character who is eighteen, nineteen, twenty, they had to act a certain way and be a certain way. But I was wrong. It all depends on how you write them. Lovepenny's Emyln in her book Friends with the King of the Underworld, is in college, lives with her parents, plays Dungeons and Dragons with her best friend and loves Doctor Who. She's innocent and sweet. Not the rough and tough and overly independent college age MC I associated with the NA genre.

She showed me that I can write as diverse characters and storylines for NA as I can with YA or MG. And so that's why I decided to branch out and give this genre a try. Victoria Schwab tweeted about how just because your successful, doesn't mean you'll always be successful and that's why it helps to  have several books in several different genres. I don't think I'm ready yet to write an MG book. I usually go a little overboard and get dark and scary and that's not how I view or want my MG book to be. So once I learn how to dial it back a bit then I'll work on that. And I am definitely not into the Adult genre. The only adult book I've ever read is Vicious by Victoria Schwab. But this NA genre? I think I can manage it. In Sterling Silver, Tabitha is seventeen, but by the end of Blood Brothers (the sequel) she's eighteen and transitioning into the New Adult genre. For this project I'm working on right now, a Peter Pan retelling, I made my main character eighteen. I know that's on the very edge of New Adult, but baby steps, right?

Anyways, I guess what I'm saying is, don't be afraid to venture into this new genre. Don't even be afraid to venture into the Adult genre. Just because these characters aren't teenagers doesn't mean they can't be as diverse and different as the many casts of the YA genre. They can have varying interests, backstories, and personalities. Just because someone turns twenty or even thirty, doesn't mean they instantly fit into a mold and become boring. They have stories to tell to. And those stories don't have to be riddled with bad language and graphic scenes. Again, they can be as diverse as any book in the YA and even MG genres.

For my Peter Pan retelling, I knew that Wendy (my main character) would be eighteen. You know how as a writer, once you meet your character they just tell you what they want and who they are? There's this intuition about them that you have? Its sort of a really cool, magical thing that can't be explained. Or at least, I can't explain it. It's just this... instinct I have. I know the best way to tell Wendy's story is to have her be eighteen. She needed to be that age and in that head space for this story to work, even if most of my characters are sixteen or seventeen. So that's how old I made her. If your character, if your instinct, is telling you that your character needs to be a certain age, listen to it and don't be afraid to take that risk or leave your writerly comfort zone.

(Just a quick link add-in, I really liked this article about the New Adult genre and explains the problem with that genre better than I can on here so check it out: The Problem With New Adult Books)

So yeah, that's my two cents about the New Adult genre and what's been on my mind over the past week. Seriously, if you want some good books to read and like fae books or vampire books check out Bella Higgins and Lovepenny on Wattpad. Both of their series are really good!

Have a great Wednesday and a great rest of the week guys! 

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