How To Tell If Your Manuscript Is YA

This was helpful to me, as I thought if the main character was a young adult, facing issues common among that demographic, then the story would be YA. This clears things up for me. My 12-year old granddaughter was reading “Splintered” last year. She had already read it five times. She loved that book. I asked if I could read it. All was tell until the two teenagers got into touchy-feely scenes that probably progressed from there. The main characters were high school students. I informed her mother (who had not read the book) that I felt it was inappropriate for her age group. She agreed.

Kate Brauning

Being able to accurately categorize your writing as middle grade, young adult, new adult, or adult is an important part of writing for your audience and preparing to query. Sometimes writers assume because a novel has a main character who is a teen, the story is YA, but that isn’t always the case, and it’s not really the character’s age that’s the main determining factor. Many thrillers deal with teens and children, and aren’t YA.

When I first started writing, I thought the MS I was working on was YA because it was about a teen, and it wasn’t really YA. It had several young adult elements, but it was a much closer match to adult fiction. So how do you tell, really, if you are writing YA, or something else?

Here are some examples of works that muddy the waters:

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn is told from two…

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