I’ve recently taken a foray into New Adult fiction. I originally encountered this growing category four or five years ago at a Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and although it piqued my interest, I never looked more deeply until I added New Adult novels such as Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl to my to-be-read shelf.
Now I completely stand behind an evolution of New Adult fiction from slightly-more-erotic-YA to a full-blown category in itself.
New Adult fiction bridges the gap between the now solidified categories of Young Adult and Adult fiction. Various sources make different claims about the range of ages represented by New Adult, but on average I see 18-25 as the target audience age range. This age range puts New Adult past the high school phase represented in Young Adult fiction, but before the full-blown adult lives and responsibilities depicted in Adult fiction.
New Adult represents an opportunity to depict characters experiencing a crucial coming-of-age moment in our modern society—the moment when a teenager faces true independence as an adult. Whether this moment involves attending college, finding a serious job, traveling the world, or a plethora of other life decisions, it is a moment that many people have experienced or soon will.
For this reason, New Adult serves as an important link in modern fiction. Not only do people between the ages of 18-25 deserve representation in literature, but such an age range allows for so many story possibilities. If Young Adult reflects the trials and tribulations of teenagers discovering who they are, New Adult offers the chance to follow young people finding their place in the world—or another world entirely.
As someone who falls into the New Adult age range, I completely support and encourage the growth of this category. As much as I still love Young Adult, it’s hard not to want to read and write characters that reflect the changes in living situations, relationships, and maturity levels that come post-high school. Many obstacles must be overcome between high school graduation and the events depicted in most Adult novels, and these obstacles should be told, along with the relatable characters who face them.
If we look further than the contemporary genre and delve into speculative fiction, I would even argue that the New Adult age range is more enticing and believable than that of Young Adult when it comes to characters embarking on spectacular adventures.
In our current age, most high schoolers do not experience the sort of life-changing events depicted in Young Adult speculative fiction: adventure, lifelong love, and the struggle to survive.
That’s why it’s fiction, right?
But the next age group—when those teens move beyond high school—more often could experience these events and feelings. Regardless of where they choose to go, most high school graduates leave their parents’ homes in search of an independent life. The excitement, risk, and fear involved in this decision easily parallels that shown in the adventure and danger of speculative fiction. As for romance, I find it far more believable in this day and age that a twenty-two-year-old will find a partner for life than I do a sixteen or seventeen-year-old.
In other words, the concept of New Adult speculative fiction resonates with me because the feelings and experiences depicted more accurately represent my impressions of life post-high school than they do life during high school.
I certainly have no intention of knocking down the Young Adult category. I value Young Adult fiction as a reader and a writer, and it is a great source of entertainment and learning for a variety of ages. But I will do what I can to support the rise of New Adult as its own category, so it can play an important role as the bridge between Young Adult and Adult fiction.
What are your thoughts? If you’ve read New Adult books, which do you recommend? What do you like or dislike about the category? Is it a necessary category to have?
If you have interest in reading New Adult, check out Goodreads’ list of New Adult releases and favorites, and stay tuned for my series review of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses.
Writer Tip: Do Your Research
I’ve recently returned to the life of a History major and the hours of research it involves. While this research is taxing, it usually yields an interesting product—in my case, a research paper.
Research is important for many career paths, including that of a writer. If you are a fellow student or you still remember the weariness of hours spent in a library, you might groan at the idea of further research. But research comes along with the job description.
In order to improve your story and writing skills as a whole, I recommend two forms of research: research into the background of your story and research into the writing and publishing process.
Regardless of the setting, time period, or reality of your story, you should spend time researching in order to accurately depict a world you wish to convey.
This might seem more obvious to those of you writing non-fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, or any story featuring a contemporary or historical setting. Whether this story takes place in the Mongol Empire of the 13th century or Missouri in 2015, it requires research in order to be accurate and believable to readers.
Which historical events took place in your location? How did people dress during this time? How were women treated? Which form of government held sway in society? Which foods did people commonly eat? How were classes or social groups separated?
These are only a few questions that might play a role in your research. If you intend to write a story depicting the life of a teenage girl living in France during the period of World War II, you might look into each and every one of these questions before typing a single word. Your writing journey will inevitably lead to question after question—in which case you will do research to find answer after answer.
Perhaps less obvious is the research required for fantasy, sci-fi, and other speculative fiction. If you have an imaginary race living in a spectacular world with no base in our own human history, why do research? What could you possibly research?
Regardless of how fictional your world is, research will ground your story in a way that makes it believable to a reader.
How have social classes interacted with each other throughout history and how might that inspire your story? How does the technology of your world function? How does agriculture and industrialization influence society? When were toilets invented? If Earth had two moons, what would change?
Again, these questions only serve as examples to show how research can improve a work of any genre. Overall, you should learn to ask questions and seek out answers. Creativity and imagination are crucial ingredients to a story—but research serves an equally important purpose.
2.The Writing and Publishing Process
If you want to improve your writing or prepare yourself for the publishing world, you need to research common skills, tactics, and requirements. There are many resources available on these topics, including free online sources if you’re short on cash. For now, I’ll offer up a few quality sources of information:
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King I read King’s memoir for a High School English class, and I highly recommend it. King offers details of his own life and journey as a writer along with great pieces of advice for writing and editing, including my personal favorite tip: adverbs pave the road to hell.
The Elements of Active Prose by Tahlia Newland Author Jeanne Hardt recommended this book to me, and I can’t thank her enough. Newland gives incredible and understandable advice about various stages of editing, from editing your overall concept to editing line by line. If you have a finished manuscript and you want to polish it for future queries, you should definitely check this book out. It helped me cut nearly 50% of my manuscript.
Query: Everything You Need to Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed by C.J. Redwine Jeanne similarly recommended this advice book about querying, written by the author of Defiance and The Shadow Queen. If you are anything like me, you might be overwhelmed by the world of querying. Redwine’s advice is short and to the point, so it’s a wonderful resource if you are ready to query agents. It will teach you ways to construct your query and follow agency etiquette.
Writer’s Digest Writer’s Digest is a fantastic website for writers. Almost every time I Google information about writing or publishing, I immediately come across a Writer’s Digest article. This is a free source for advice and further resources. You can learn tips about writing, querying, and pitching agents, or find lists of new agents looking for clients. They also advertise writing conferences, which I highly recommend attending if you have the time and money. Check out their website and subscribe for their magazine.
This is a very short list of the resources out there, but it’s a start. If you know other good resources, let me know! I’m always looking to learn more.
Tunes to Inspire Words: Ruelle
In order to combat writer’s block, I often submerse myself in the inspiration of music. Whether I’m lying on a couch, riding in the car, or walking outside, music helps me click with a story element in my mind. There’s a reason TV shows and movies utilize music to tell their stories—the music nurtures the emotion of each scene.
For this post, I’d like to highlight a current favorite singer of mine: Ruelle.
If you don’t know the name, there’s a chance you’ve heard her music. Several of Ruelle’s songs play in popular TV shows. I originally looked up her music after hearing her song “War of Hearts” in Freeform’s Shadowhunters (a TV show inspired by Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments). However, after reading through Ruelle's songs, I realized I previously heard and enjoyed her song “Until We Go Down” in the opening credits for MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles. Since then, her song “Game of Survival” played in advertisements for Netflix’s Thirteen Reasons Why, and Freeform continues to use several of her songs, including “Madness” and “Other Side”.
It’s no surprise that Ruelle’s music appeals to these shows. Although she has a variety of styles in her repertoire, many of her songs submerse the listener in dark, intense emotion. Her songs are mysterious, intriguing, and sensitive. Each song I listen to strikes me with both its sound and its lyrics. It’s easy to visualize a struggling protagonist, which makes Ruelle’s music great for sparking inspiration.
I highly recommend taking time to listen to Ruelle’s entire collection of music, but I will recommend a few of my favorites to start.
Both the original and acoustic versions of “War of Hearts” ring with emotion. I listened to this song on repeat when I first heard it. It has an element of forbidden romance to it, so if your story involves that timeless trope, this song could be exactly what you need to get into the mood.
“Game of Survival” is another personal favorite. The ominous opening quickly builds into an intense chorus focusing on the juxtaposition of hunter and prey. If you enjoy the intensity of this song, you might also enjoy “Madness” and “Bad Dream”.
If you’re looking for more upbeat songs with a hint of sass, “Gotta Love It” and “Oh My My” could be perfect. If you’d prefer a slower, haunting vibe, I recommend “Rival” or “Find You”.
Due to Ruelle’s plethora of engaging songs, it’s difficult to choose my recommendations. But I will leave it to you to further explore her music. Chances are if you like one or two of her songs, you will like many others.
Ruelle’s music is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.
What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Ruelle’s music? If so, do you have recommendations for similar artists? If you’re a writer, which songs or artists inspire you?
I write YA fantasy and paranormal fiction. This blog is dedicated to thoughts and advice on writing and publishing, as well as various interests related to the world of Young Adult.