YA,NA and Adult: Blurring the lines

I’m going to be making some huge generalisations here. I’m in the final stages of my second to last edit and I have to take some leaps. Forgive me if I fall into a big hole in the process. I’ll roll over and expose my belly later, but I don’t have the time right now.

I should probably note here that I’m a huge Urban Fantasy fan ( with Urban Fantasy there’s a paranormal aspect, but the romance normally takes a back seat. If romance was driving, it would be called Paranormal Romance.) and my comments about contemporary romances are probably ill-informed and basic. But considering it takes up a large part of the NA market, and this is where my book fits age-wise, I have to acknowledge it’s existence.

Hi, NA Contemporary Romance *waves sheepishly*.  I’m Urban Fantasy, new to the block. No, please keep your pants on, this is just an informal introduction.

The year New Adult  was born ( protag aged between 18-25 I believe) , I contemplated writing a book. It was certainly  before the age group was accepted as its own category,  but I didn’t know it existed at the time.  I don’t know if I shied away from writing New Adult because of this, or because I wasn’t ready period. Redundant statement really.

I heard NA was born because some authors were being handed back their manuscripts and told: make the characters younger, tone down the sex and lets get some YA love out of the market. People wanted to write about emotions, the exciting time where you leave your parents to experiment life.  I believe it started with books like Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. Still pretty tame for NA really. The setting was university, but the sex didn’t dominate. I don’t know what happened though – over the next few years NA contemporary romance seems to have become very erotic.  I could proclaim myself a prude with my desire to shy away from reads that are heavily erotic. I don’t know if this is it though. And I’m not saying they don’t have great story lines that hook you in- I almost stayed up all night reading Beautiful Disaster. I guess I’m confused as to why the NA that’s selling well seems erotically skewed. Is this because there are no other NA genres available to this age group? Why can’t we have NA that reads like YA, but with older characters? Oh, but less angsty than YA.

When you take out the angst, you can almost argue it becomes more adult in nature. But considering a lot of my content and humour could be considered juvenile to adult readers,  this isn’t exactly where I sit either.  My character doesn’t tolerate boundaries, so I’ll be damned if I shove her somewhere she doesn’t want to go.

I’m blurring the lines. My book isn’t angsty, it isn’t romancey, it isn’t adult, it isn’t not erotic. Am I doomed? Will romance forever be kicking the back of my seat saying, “Let me drive. I can do this so much better, and I’ll do it better nude?”

When you’re writing, do you consider what appeals to your market, or like me, do you write what appeals to you, and hope that it will resonate with the right readers who can be of any age.


8 thoughts on “YA,NA and Adult: Blurring the lines

  1. I know the audience I hope to earn, but that’s kind of a chicken and egg scenario in that respect. I think so long as you are producing then you are winning. I think that good story well told will always earn you an audience eventually.

    • That’s what I’m hoping. I think if you do anything else it would for the writing to come across as natural. I’m certainly not looking down my nose at those that do try to write to a market, I just think it would be tough!

  2. I write what appeals to me. I have published Mystery, Romance, and others. All have similar undertones of each but I classify it depending on the strongest aspect. The one I am currently editing starts when the two MCs are in grade school, follows through college, and (when I get to the last couple of chapters, they will be adults. I guess it falls under YA, NA, and Adult? IDK. But as long as you write in YOUR voice, your manuscript will be well accepted by those who read it. A reader can sense when you are struggling in your writing. Just my humble opinion of course. Write on!

    • I agree. Anytime I try to write against my instincts I have to change it back. I think my concern is that by not focusing on certain aspects I might be losing a big chunk of certain markets. I guess its about setting peoples expectations. If people expect it to be more of a romance, and it isn’t then they’ll be disappointed. I think you’re right. Write what appeals to me and that will translate. Thanks 🙂

  3. The point of NA isn’t that the characters are over 18 (you can have a 18-22 year old protagonist in YA), but that they are written for and marketed to 17/18+. In other words, YA is generally appropriate for high schoolers, whereas NA walks the line of too grown up/violent/sexual for them. If you feel your book is too grown up for young teens because of sexual content, older themes, mature characters, etc. then it probably is! Heck, I blogged about it too! I hope this helped! @MrsRALittle

    • It’s a tough one. So more content than age category? I would say the themes of some darker YA are probably more Adult than the ones I’m writing. My characters are at Uni, and other than the paranormal aspect, they only deal with drinking, a one-night stand and there’s only minimal swearing. They act like eighteen year olds when it comes to having fun etc. But I remember doing these sorts of things when I was 25…..I chose the age group because I wanted my characters to be older when they have to take on these immense tasks. There’s a biological reason as well. I’ll go check out your blog! thanks!

  4. I haven’t written much lately, but I’ve never written anything with the market specifically in mind. I love UF too, and if I was going to make a serious go of writing, I’d go that route. Not as easy to sell as NA (erotica or otherwise), but what’s the point, if you’re only doing it for profit? Writing (for me, anyway) is an exercise in creativity. If you aren’t going to write what you love, it’ll suck the soul out of you.

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