Wednesday, April 10, 2013

You Might Write New Adult If...

by J. Lea López

The New Adult category is still a new thing. Some still don't think it's a thing at all, but that hasn't kept it from getting some more mainstream attention recently. Despite the growing interest, confusion about what NA is or isn't persists. Just for fun, here's a handy way to tell if you're writing NA fiction.

You might be writing New Adult...

  • If your student-by-day-crime-fighter-by-night protagonist has emotional drama on the side, but it isn't about her first kiss/prom/parents divorcing/etc.—it's about deciding who she wants to be in the world now that she's about to head out on her own;
  • If you've ever been told your characters need to be younger to fit into YA, or older to appeal to adult readers;
  • If the mere mention of this New York Times piece from last December, or ABC's Nightline in late February made you see red with rage. And maybe still does;
  • If you have a permanent bruise on your forehead from smacking it against your keyboard every time someone says "Oh, so it has lots of sex, right?"
  • If aging your characters up or down would significantly change the emotional dynamic of key elements, or make them impossible altogether—the perceived scandal in a May-December romance becomes less of an issue when the younger character is 30, just plain creepy and illegal if she's 13, but juuust right for awesome drama when she's 19 and struggling to separate from the constraints of her parents;
  • If you stalk the #NALitChat hashtag on Twitter;
  • If your characters are making important, adult life decisions, often for the first time. They have neither the hindsight based on years of life experience, like the 35- or 45-year-old character of adult fiction, nor the need/desire for guidance from parental figures or mentors, like the 16-year-old YA character;
  • If your pulse pounds every time another awesome agent or editor tweets that they are now (finally, FINALLY!) accepting NA submissions.
What are some other (fun or serious) ways you would finish the statement "You might be writing New Adult if..."? Let me know in the comments!

J. Lea López writes contemporary NA and erotica. Find her on Twitter or her blog. To read some of her mainstream short stories, check out the anthologies The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse and Spring Fevers. Find some of her erotic short stories on her Facebook page. 


    Diana said...

    I love this! It's all so true!

    Sarra Cannon said...

    Such a great list! Love!

    Carrie Butler said...

    Haha! I love the one about the bruise...

    Lexa Cain said...

    I was so excited to read this! I've decided to change from YA to NA, (I was fed up with teen voice) and am thrilled to see so many agents suddenly taking NA. The only problem is, half the ideas that come to me still have teen characters. I spent so many years writing YA, it's stuck to me like gum under a school desk!
    Great post!

    J. Lea Lopez said...

    Thanks for reading, ladies! I'm happy to see NA getting some mainstream media attention recently, even if it has resulted in that forehead bruise... ;-)

    Lanette said...

    I was told by a contest judge that my novel isn't NA because she already graduated from college, but she's a 23yo recent grad striking out on her own and making adult decisions for the first time while trying to push out her mom's nagging voice in her head.

    That should go on the list: If your MC is trying to shove her mom's nagging voice out of her head while she makes her own decisions and constantly screws up, you might be writing NA.