5 Things You Need to Know About Young Adult Readers

May 23, 2018

 

Writer's need to be in tune with their target audience.

 

What is your target audience? Those are the readers that are most likely to read the subject you write about. For the most part, my writing fits into the genre's of young adults. Typically the age range for this genre is 12 and up; right when the hormones kick in, full throttle. 

I think as we get older, we forget what being a teen is all about. When we are in our twenties, or even thirties (like me), we look at teens and see a different species. A language barrier rises between adults and teens, but not one that can't be broken down. I have the pleasure of learning about the intricacies of the teen mind by observing my cousin. She is someone that I revere for her passion and sensitivity.

1. Young Adult's are very opinionated. Whatever they believe in, they believe it to their very core. They are a passionate group of people. It's that beautiful stage in life when you have so much hope, before everything becomes jaded. When they feel, they feel so deeply. They enjoy topics that draw up deep emotions. Books like, The Fault in Our Stars and 13 Reasons Why.

 

2. They move fast! Very tech savvy. Stories need to move along quickly, with dialogue and vivid imagery. Show and don't tell is key for this group of readers. Deep POV would go well because it takes out all of those fillers that slow a story down. For more info on Deep POV, check out the well-storied blog post by Kristen Kieffer, How to Write in Deep POV. I started writing in Deep POV this year and I don't think I will ever write another way. Unless of course, the audience calls for it. I have my editor to thank for pointing me towards this writing style, and it changed everything in my YA Fantasy.

 

3. Today's young adult readers are very open to diversity of all kinds. Sexuality, Race, Gender.  I learned this by watching the craze that was known as "shipping". I am not even sure if its still a thing, but Urban Dictionary defines it as: A verb used to describe the action of wishing for two people to enter a relationship (whether romantic or occasionally platonic) in books, movies, tv shows or real life. Shipping had no rules or barriers with respect to gender or sexual orientation. I saw many tweets and IG posts where two heterosexual characters were illustrated in very sexual positions and scenes. Despite how weird this seemed at first, I ended up feeling like it just proved how accepting teens really are. More so than adults, who put themselves into boxes and become less open minded over time.

 

4. Teens are very quick witted. My favorite teen enjoys a good laugh and shows like John Oliver, Colbert, and Trevor Noah. What did I watch as a teen? Mostly family sitcoms. Definitely The Simpsons, but political satire? Not so much! Not only are today's teens quick witted, they are incredibly aware of the current social environment and they like being a part of the conversation.

 

5.  They are very observant. Nothing gets past them. Seriously, they catch everything. Maybe it's because they are learning how to be more adult-like, which leads to making a few mistakes as they learn, and turns them into mistake-seeking missiles. Maybe. Nonetheless, its good to take careful steps when creating our characters and building our worlds. Fiction is fiction, but even readers can call us out on taking fiction too far. Fiction still needs to make sense, and have some credence. 

Young adult books, are generally marketed towards teens, but, I love me some great YA. Give me a corny teen love story and I'm in. This is also great to keep in mind. When writing, don't limit yourself to creating the story for teens. The audience is much wider than that. Remember Harry Potter? That was Middle Grade, and yet millions of non middle-grade-aged people, gobbled it up. I think JK Rowling accomplished this by having a multitude of loveable characters. Everyone had someone they could relate to. Her books were also deeply emotional, which resonates with adults that understood the experiences of the characters. 

 

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