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Katlyn Duncan | Writing New Adult Versus Young Adult

December 12, 2014

Katlyn DuncanTHIS CHRISTMASI think each genre has their own challenges that a writer must overcome, but today we’ll focus on two that I have some recent experience in: New Adult versus Young Adult novels.

I started my published career with a paranormal young adult series, The Life After. I always felt comfortable writing in the YA genre because to me, when you are in that age group, there is a lot of urgency in everything that you do. Think back to high school where every decision seemed to be life or death. You HAD to go to prom with that boy or go to that party or your life would be over. Sound familiar? Even though high school was tough for everyone, it’s still part of the shaping of our lives. Writing in that time period is where I love to be.

After I completed The Life After series, I was finally able to sit back and think about what I wanted to do next. A story had been mulling around in my brain for a while I wanted to explore it. I had worked for my local Parks Department in high school at a nearby pool and I wanted to create that same nostalgia of urgency that I always enjoy writing. But this time was a little different.

I started to chart the New Adult territory with caution since it was very new to me. THIS SUMMER tipped the scale of Young Adult to New Adult. Hadley had just graduated high school and Will had already been on his own for a few years. Each of them were engaging their own personal struggles in what seemed like two different worlds.

The challenging part for me was taking my mind-set out of the YA box and setting it firmly into the New Adult box. To me that meant the same urgency that I feel comfortable writing, but in different circumstances. The biggest part of New Adult that I love are the characters stepping out of their own comfort zone. Usually the time in a characters life that New Adult is written in, is exploring uncharted territory outside of their home for 18+ years. And for me as a writer, I had to challenge myself to do the same.

For me, when writing Will and Hadley’s story, especially in THIS CHRISTMAS, I had to take my characters even further into the New Adult territory and bring about new situations that fit within the genre. No more high school drama, but the drama of Will’s first job outside of his family or hometown and Hadley figuring out how to have a social life with her boyfriend outside of classes and the ever distracting Big Apple.

Another challenge I faced was the maturity of the characters. They couldn’t run home to their families when a hard situation arose so like anyone in the 18+ group who lives away from home I had to really think of my characters reactions to situations. As a young adult, actions do have consequences, but as you get older, the stakes are higher and I really loved to push my characters to the brink to see what they would do.

I really enjoyed my time spent writing in the New Adult genre. There were plenty of challenges for my characters and myself as a writer that I find invaluable in my quest to become a better writer. And even though it was hard at times, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

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