We have already established that young adult audiences are between about 10 and 14, so they’re not close to being adults, except in terms of reading. Their abilities should be about the same, but the works shouldn’t be as graphic as some adults works might be.
One thing to always, always, always remember is that when writing for kids, you have to know them. Their stage of development is a primary consideration.
Here are some themes that are appropriate for young adults in fiction:
Kids are big on this topic, though you still shouldn’t write anything graphically sexual. You can suggest, though, and we all know how that goes. But kids in this group are already having sex. Kind of sad, but true. But even if they’re not, they understand it. The whole boy-girl thing is really, really important to them now. They may not be looking for long-term relationships, but who “likes” you and who doesn’t is really foremost. Plus, the whole peer pressure thing about having some kind of relationship with a member of the opposite sex is definitely there.
Being part of the group is very important to kids this age. They want their peers to respect them, to hold them in esteem, and to be loyal. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. This is when kids learn how to really make other kids feel bad about themselves, and conversely, they can raise them up.
Not so important anymore. They still love their parents, but this is the age when they start to exhibit independence. At 10, the hugging stops and the “I love you, mommy.” It’s painful for us, but well… They have to do this to establish themselves as adults. All we can do is grin and bear it. So, don’t write a story where parental approval is tops. It’s still important, but there are way more important things to kids of this age.
Yep. Really important at this time to kids who are attracted to members of the same sex. This is often the time they establish their sexual orientation, so stories that involve this choice are appropriate for kids this age, for sure. You still don’t want to be graphic with sexual descriptions, but the entire age group of young adults probably understands sex by now.
Those are just some areas you can cover in young adult novels. In the next post, let’s discuss nonfiction for young adults.