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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Does simplicity/innocence make it MG vs. YA?

   
Author Topic: Does simplicity/innocence make it MG vs. YA?
enigmaticuser
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Writing an episodic series of short stories about a 16-17 yr old space gypsy, I'm mostly just writing them because its fun. I'm having a blast, but I'm probably going to epub them in the next month or two individually and as a collection.

I'm not sure it matters whether they're MG vs YA so I'm just wondering for myself . . . the MC is a girl and she's facing sometimes dire circumstances, but its really just a fun adventure. There's some self-pitying whining but no real angst or complicated messy boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, but most of the time she's just ineptly dealing with life/death situations from a sweet and innocent and simple perspective. So I'm not dealing with anything too complex. A good comparison might be a more innocent version of Kaley on Firefly.

But as I said, I'm having a blast, they're fun to write and to read, there's humor that I as an adult enjoy, but its . . . dare I say it . . . cute. So does it's cute/sweetness/innoncence make it a specific catagory? And does it even matter?

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redux
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The main difference between MG and YA is psychological scope (think developmental stages.) MG's targets ages 8-12. Kids at this stage are starting to learn about self-identity, self-worth, forming relationships (friendships, maybe their first boyfriend/girlfriend). By the YA stage (targeted at teens all the way up to 22) the world opens up and it's more about "how do I fit in the world?" Themes tend to be more focused on that transition from adolescence to adulthood.

From your description, despite the age of the protagonist, your story to me sounds more MG than YA.

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extrinsic
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There's a fine distinction between a central character being old enough to be savvy enough to negotiate young adult complications and targetting age-based audience appeal. Recreational middle grade readers read up in age as do young adults, early adults too, though by the early adult age stage readers are also beginning to read back in age.

A young adult space gypsy roaming star lanes strikes me as either very savvy about the cruelties of the adult world and able to handle them to a degree or an easy victim and constantly complicated by edgy perils, easily crippled by them. So long as she's dynamic, not just a victim of circumstances but reactive to serious dangers and functionally transformed afterward, functionally grows personally, morally, psycholgically, triumphant even, I don't see why not.

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mrmeadors
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To me it sounds like MG could read it, but that older people could also enjoy it. You could just try to market it that way. Sounds fun to me [Smile] Good luck with it.

Melanie

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axeminister
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MG or YA is partially about the age of the MC.
A 9 yr old may like reading about a 16 yr old, but that doesn't make the book MG. A 5th grade teacher won't be using that book in the classroom. A Library won't put it in the MG section. It won't be "labeled" as such.

MG readers may read up, but YA readers are unlikely to read down.

To use my daughter as an example, she's 14 and there's one MG book on her bookshelf. Skullduggery Pleasant. It's there because she bought it 3-4 years earlier. However, it's on the bottom shelf, where the books reside that she doesn't plan to read again, but wants to keep.

Axe

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Treamayne
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I have bookmarked a couple decent articles/blogs on this topic when i was doing some research myself to decide what direction I wanted to take a story. Maybe they can help (they did for me).

http://ruthannereid.com/2009/10/05/ya-to-mg-young-adult-vs-middle-grade/

http://kidlit.com/2010/11/20/is-it-mg-or-ya/

The question I was also looking at was progression over time. Can a series start MG and become YA (or start YA and become Adult). Though things like HP would indicate yes (Book 1 seems much more MG and by book 7 it is clearly YA or more) but I don't think they will get marketed or displayed as such. Once HP titles were clearly YA (I would say book 4) then all of them are now in that section.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Since those designations are mostly marketing tools, if you're, essentially, self publishing it I don't really see how it matters. Marketing and advertising aside, people are going to read what they're going to read.

Of course I'm not a fan of genre fixation and I cordially dislike the whole age demographic thing.

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enigmaticuser
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Sounds like have an inbetween on my hands, but not that it's a problem.

Thanks everyone for the thoughts. She definitely progresses in terms of how she deals with things, she understands the world (or in her case the universe) has more complicated aspects just neither she nor the story dwell there, like knowing the bad area of town vs visiting.

So it sounds like it's right in the middle, but as I suspected not too important when you self pubbing.

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MAP
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I agree with Redux that it has to do with themes.

I do know there seems to be an age distinction to though.

Is there any reason why your MC couldn't be a few years younger?

If you are self-publishing, can you label it as both MG and YA? Or does the label really matter?

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enigmaticuser
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MAP, I was looking at City of Ember (closest thing) and it simply said "10 and up" nothing MG or YA anywhere on Amazon where I was looking. So I don't think I need to label it one way or another, just I suppose figuring out my target.

As for if I could make her younger? Well, it's possible. I wanted her old enough to be fun and explain her narrative wit, something of a broad vocabulary, old enough to be empathetic towards other characters, able to guess and misguess their motives etc..., and of course to explain why she is out in a spaceship by herself (I think it was an accident involving a wormhole and an un-parentally authoritzed joyride in her mom's ship). Though of course she's something of a whiz with machines so it could have been younger.

In her developing backstory though she has been in space for awhile, as I kind of needed to seperate her from apparently loving parents to explain some esteem/self-image factors that were key to the original story. So I figured it would take awhile for some of those things.

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redux
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The Agent Kristin Nelson just posted this - was she reading this thread?? [Smile]

Fridays With Agent Kristin: Episode 2 - The Difference Between Young Adult And Middle Grade

http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2012/02/fridays-with-agent-kristin-episode-2.html

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KayTi
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Librarians won't shelve a book about a 16 yr old with middle grade books.

But as someone else pointed out, Amazon doesn't care.

From my experience in indie publishing, there's sometimes a category you can assign your book to called "YA" but there is no corresponding bit for "MG."

So, in my opinion, your choice is easy. You call it a YA book, it is what it is, and you just move forward. But you also make sure your descriptions make it clear what the book is about, and when you pitch it to others you say, "The book is YA due to the age of the protagonist, but it's written "clean" and would be appropriate for readers ages 10 and up." or some such. (I say this about my YA sci-fi novel Convergence, which is about a 14 year old on a space station. I write clean YA, not the edgy stuff, and I write right on the border of YA and MG, protags ages 12-14.)

Good luck with this!

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enigmaticuser
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Thanks Kayti!
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