Friday, 29 April 2011

Y is for YA FTW!

I have been roaming around the blogosphere for the last three months, and there are two things that have stood out for me when encountering other blogging writers.

Firstly, the vast majority of these writers are female. There’s no one particular kind of woman, it goes from school age through to young mothers, to frazzled soccer moms, to silver haired retirees. But it is very, very definitely not a man's world (we’re outnumbered Little Big Horn style).

The other striking thing is the genre most women choose to write in: Fantasy. I found this quite odd, I don’t recall girls reading much of this sort of thing when I was a kid. Not many D&D girls crossed my path (oh, if only...). But from princes and faeries, to werewolves and witches, it is very much the genre of the moment. And with a strong tendency towards the Young Adult end of the market.

This is my impression. I don’t have any stats to corroborate it with. Am I way off? Allow me to dig myself a little deeper.



There is some stuff aimed at younger kids, and some traditional romance fiction/chick lit out there, but by and large, it’s about a female protagonist, somewhere in her late teens to early twenties, facing some kind of supernatural/magical problem. And with a love interest or two.

While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this subject matter or the demographic they’re aimed at, I do wonder why so many women are writing about such similar themes and subject matter. Any ideas?

I don’t have any evidence to back me up and not much experience with the genres I’m talking about. With that said here are some completely baseless observations.

The Fantasy YA genre is a very broad church, encompassing a lot of sub-genres. Overall, though, what unifies them, in my opinion, is a structural resemblance to Romance Fiction. Very much aimed at women, female protagonist, feisty but vulnerable, not looking for trouble/love but trouble/love finding her.

Romance fiction occupies a position in literature similar to that of pornography in cinema (figuritively speaking). It is not taken very seriously and often mocked, but hugely popular and services a need. It certainly isn’t cool to be seen reading, especially for younger women.

The new breed of YA fantasy books put the emphasis on various supernatural, adventure, dramatic elements of the story, but the general pattern is very similar. Girl who is dealt terrible blow through no fault of her own is treated unfairly (unfairness seems a big deal) but she does the best she can, even though it’s soooo unfair. Boys she likes pay attention to her, formenting jealousy (jealousy also a big deal). Passions ignite and the girl who was on the outside is the centre of attention (being the ‘chosen one’ also a big deal).

It’s a basic wish fulfilment fantasy, as most romance novels are. There are plenty of older books with young people as the leads or that are read by teens, that are more sophisticated than this, although usually they aren’t specifically written for the teen market. But modern YA books aren’t likely to be read by general readers, certainly not boys. They are more likely to be read by young women looking for romance.

I have no idea if any of this is true. I’m speculating. Any thoughts on this would be welcome.

An attractive feature of YA books may be that the narrative is expected to be fairly simplistic. The desire for true love is beyond question as a worthwhile goal. Passion is perfect motivation, requiring no explanation. Male characters suddenly becoming obsessed with the central female character for no apparent reason is seen as part of the natural order of things. It’s these sorts of assumed behaviour traits that have led to Romance Novels getting the bad rap they get, which is now being transferred to these fantasy YA books.

The characters end up being one dimensional and unrealistic. A bad boy who turns against his own kind/clan/crew because he ‘loves’ the girl is not a sophisticated representation of character. In fact it’s almost a caricature. The representation of men is ludicrously idealised and shows a lack of understanding of male behaviour (often, it feels, intentionally). It’s basic wish fulfilment. And that is where YA urban fantasy type books rub shoulders with straight up romance fiction.

Again, drawing wild conclusions from little to no evidence. Feel free to correct/admonish/berate me.

This still doesn’t explain why so many aspiring female writers are drawn to this subject matter. If you want to write, you write. But why write about this specifically? The more recent books don’t really seem to be aimed at the younger market, almost using the YA status to get away with writing at a lower standard for an older market.

First you had the romance novel. Belittled but hugely successful. Then chick lit, a more independent female character, but still, all about getting the guy. Now paranormal fantasy, strong women, but the guys got super powers, so what’s a girl to do?

Genealogically, the kinds of books these stories are based on aren’t things like Catcher in the Rye or The Outsiders, they are more like Wuthering Heights. Women caught in the maelstrom of fate and passion, struggling with powers beyond their control.

I realise most of what I’ve said is probably rubbish, I’m more posing questions than providing answers. If you write YA fantasy maybe you can put me straight.

Why did you choose to write for this age group?

Is the romance aspect as key as I’ve made it out to be?

Can you imagine writing, or have you read, a YA fantasy without a central love plot?

Do you consider the popularity and heavy competition within the genre at the moment a good thing for aspiring writers? Is now a good time to get into writing for this genre?

My approach to this post has been a little facetious, but I'm genuinely interested to know what fans and writers of this genre think it's strong points are and why it's taking the publishing world by storm.

44 comments:

Donna Weaver said...

Dang. I just wrote a freakin' book in reply and clicked the wrong button.

No offense, but a lot of what you say is perception, imho. Most literature has a romantic element to it. Look at Tolkien's LotR trilogy. But it was written by a man and he didn't talk about it much.

The Bourne series, if the protagonist had been a woman--even with all the cool action--would have been perceived differently. But the series has a very powerful romance element. It's a love story. But Bourne is a man, therefore, it's not classified that way.

Women do talk more about romantic things than guys do. But then women frequently talk about everything more than guys do. So books written by women are going to include more talking about it.

About the issue of women and reading fantasy, you might be interested in a blog post that talks about a NY Times article questioning the same thing.

http://musingsofapennilesswriter.blogspot.com/2011/04/sorry-ny-times-but-women-do-love.html

gaylene said...

I agree with your observations/conclusions. And I'm a woman :) I wish more women would write stories similar to authors like Dean Koontz, who has paranormal things happen and the romance is just a side story to keep things light and exciting. It's frustrating as a reader when there is so much bad/generic YA fantasy out there right now.

mooderino said...

@Donna - sorry you lost that post, annoying when that happens. I agree male fiction has elements of romance but Romance (cap R) is not just about relationships between people, it's specifically about the 'Does he love me? Will he choose? Am I special?' angle. It is based on that specific insecurity and assuaging it.

Bourne doesn't go sit by a lake fretting if she really, really loves him. It's that dwelling/obsessing/indulging that marks these stories out.

Similarly movies have sex scenes, but pornos dwell on that aspect. It isn't for narrative reasons, it's to gratify other needs.

Paula Martin said...

I'm a silver haired retiree, but I don't write (and have no interest in) fantasy or YA fiction. I write contemporary romance - often belittled, as you say, but still hugely popular - everyone loves the Happy Ever After ending, it seems.
Just posted an excerpt of my forthcoming June release of 'His Leading Lady' at paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com

Jennifer Bogart said...

Hmmm . . . I'm concerned about your perception of "Chick-Lit". Deeply concerned. "Then chick lit, a more independent female character, but still, all about getting the guy." It's hardly ever just about "getting the guy" and more about self-discovery. Admittedly, my book is Chick-Lit - but the protagonist most definitely does not get the guy, nor does she particularly want him.

Also - women read / write Fantasy because we have had enough of our "real lives". Writing is an escape from the every day where your imagination is free to roam and your characters get to indulge in adventures you might not consider or have the opportunity to pursue in real life.

BTW - keep writing your blogs in this female dominated spectrum of the web - they're great.

mooderino said...

@Gaylene - cheers, might be me and you vs the web

@Paula - will definitely check out your excerpt

@Jenny B - self discovery about whether she wants the guy or not?

Your description of fantasy is a pretty good description of all fiction, in any genre. Doesn't explain why the focus on the one type of story.

And thanks, I'll try to keep going as long as I can.

Jennifer Bogart said...

@ Mooderino - she didn't want the guy in the first place - he was a bonus, just a little sex on the side (or in the stairwell). What she needed was a kick in the ass to get her life in gear. She was stuck in a rut of her own making and going no where fast.

mooderino said...

@Jen - so are you saying that kind of storyline is more typical of chick lit than my suggested template?

Girl Friday said...

I guess you're talking about Twilight and all those similar kind of YA books. I think a reason that there's so much romance in them is that teen readers are mostly girls, and teen girls are just finding out about romance and boys, and fascinated by the topic. So there's a big market for them.

But I won't try to speculate any more than that, because I don't read much YA or romance, as my heart belongs to kidlit... and pirates and dragons and adventures :)

I do agree that YA is hugely popular at the moment. I scurry around the web trying to find more kidlit stuff and there just aren't as many blogs on that topic.

Jennifer Bogart said...

Actually, I think Chick-Lit is always evolving. There seems to be a trend towards self-discovery - this could involve a man, children, or other friends in geneneral. The focus might be on career choices, education or any life-altering decision. The "style of writing" tends to be easy-flowing, fun to read and deceptively light & fluffy, but the depth of the content might just take you by surprise. I'm not saying that's always the case, but it's something I've been noticing lately.

J.A. Beard said...

Actually, I have read YA paranormals without romance being the defining plot factor (particularly the type of singularly obsessed romance you talked about) and just wrote a YA paranormal book (male btw, but read heavily in the genre) without love being a central plot point (the main thematic aspect was overcoming grief more than anything). Several female beta readers who love the general YA paranormal genre liked it despite the lack of a strong central romance angle.

In my particular case, though I like the genre, my particular inspiration for this story just worked well in the YA range. Most of the stories I've written are not YA.

Popularity? I would basically say escapism. In that regard, I don't think it's all that radically different than the reasons for the popularity of many non-YA more male-targeted urban fantasies works. I mean look at something like the Dresden Files for instance. It's fairly popular (and at least the first few books I read were fun enough), but comes off as escapist wish-fulfillment for nerdy guys with somewhat stereotyped versions of female characters appealing to certain typical male sensibilities. Not trying to say male-UF is all like that (I love me some Neil Gaiman for instance), but just throwing out there that UF (adult or YA) is, I think, has its basis in popularity from escapism more than anything else and I'm not stunningly impressed with the ability of many male UF (or fantasy authors) to render convincing non-stereotyped female characters. I love epic fantasy, but that's another area where I'm dubious that the true primary appeal is thematic versus escapism.

I think a lot of people are probably drawn to writing in the genre just because it is popular. It makes sense, I suppose. If you go to the book store and see a huge number of YA paranormals and are trying to break in, it might make sense. Heck, I was at Target (a big American big box retailer) and one of the largest rows in their book section was just YA paranormals (and the bulk of those being about vampires).

Of course, a similar thing applies to that matter to agents. After reading agent blogs for a couple of years, it's obvious that a lot of them jumped on the YA paranormal band wagon just because of the recent sky rocketing popularity and don't particular have an affinity for the genre. You're starting to see the same thing now with dystopian YA. All these agents running around asking for dystopian YA stories when they didn't really seem all that interested in that sort of thing a couple of years ago. Not saying it's wrong or weird for an agent to search out what's hot, but it just shows how backwards looking and commercial trend driven the publishing business is.

Anyway, I'm drifting. Back to the original subject.

I actually do think it's a bad time for aspiring writers to get into the YA paranormal genre. It's rather saturated. A lot of agents and editors are leery of new YA paranormal titles because of the saturation.

Brent Wescott said...

Like yourself, I have no evidence to back this up other than what I've noticed over the past few years, but I blame Stephenie Meyer. Seriously. When Twilight blew up, the story of how easily (relatively) she wrote it and how easily (relatively) it was for her to get published made its circuit and lots of would-be writers took that as a green light and decided that they could do it, too.

I also believe that though these stories are marketed to teen girls, they're not the ones buying them in bulk. I teach high school and my students really just read what's most popular. They all read Twilight, but only a few of them went on to read other YA paranormal stories. However, I know many, many grown women who read Twilight and couldn't get enough of the genre. They are the ones buying the books.

Melissa Kline said...

I have written ten YA novels and all of my books have some element of love in them, but it isn't always the prominent theme. I've always been drawn to YA books with male protagonists because they are so rare! A few of my books are written from the male POV. But if the majority of children's book authors are females then it makes sense that the majority of protagonists are female too. I think we draw from our own experiences and what we're familiar with. I've heard I'm unique in being able to write from a male POV. I'd be interested to see how many women have the same ability. :)

~Melissa
Reflections on Writing

barbara said...

I see you've opened quite a kettle of worms here . .

I'm a female blogger/writer - no YA - no vampires - and no more Romance novels for me. I confess when I was in my 20s I read them - I'm eclectic in my tastes - read Rosemary's Baby type books - fell in love with Robin Cook and Dean Koontz.

my writing is eclectic as well - it grows as I allow myself to grow. Interesting take on the situation, sir. :)

Charmaine Clancy said...

I can't stomach much romance myself, but can't say I can remember any novel, whether it's sci-fi, western or paranormal that doesn't have some love interest - even spy novels.
If we look at YA novels, there's not many YA's out there that don't have all their hormones going crazy, which might be why they often feature a love or die romance?
Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Heather Henry said...

I don't write, but I've read my share of YA books. When I was in that age group, I read a lot of fantasy and horror, most of the authors were men and I don't recall much in the way of romance. I do wonder if the Twilight Series has had a lot to do with that, these days. Although, the YA books I've read more recently haven't, but then again they've mostly been male authors. I have nothing against romance, I love it, but if I'm reading a book that is more action based, it seems strange to have a lot of mushy scenes going on. I imagine they're probably trying to appeal to the hormonal teen girls.

Garry G. said...

I am an (almost) middle-aged man and I recently bought a YA book featuring a teenage female protagonist… and I’m sure I’m very far from being alone in this.
The book in question is, of course, called ‘I shall wear midnight’ and is the latest (possibly last) Discworld book by the mighty (sir) Terry Pratchett.
Maybe this is an exception though; although I would say it more-or-less meets your criteria!


Oh, and one of the fantasy Novellas I started writing is soo desperately trying to be a romance it’s starting to get on my nerves. ‘I don’t write romance,” I told it.
I even put in a monster, but the story just shrugged and continued on it’s merry way with the romance.
“Grrr, arg,” I said, flexing my waning muscles, “I’m a manly man, I don’t write romance,” I told it again. It took little notice, and I’m sure it smirked… just a little.

Seriously though, sometimes a story has to go where it goes, forcing it of in another direction can cause it not to read right at all!

mooderino said...

Fantastic comments, huge thanks to all those participating.

It's been suggested to me JK Rowling's rags to riches tale is the inspiration for the rise of the female author on the internet. Plausible?

Ryan Sullivan said...

I don't know. I never let myself get into the whole paranormal thing -- I'm very faithful to my high and epic fantasies, although I read the odd contemporary or "different" book (as little as I actually read).
But I would say my books suit a YA audience the best, while romance only gets a small part of the stage. And I suppose my "romances" are more just relationships. My focus is on the plight of my world and my characters. After all that, I would still say my work caters best to a YA market.

Carol Ervin said...

Grandma said, "There's no accounting for taste, said the old lady when she kissed the cow."

I say, every time there's an artistic shift in content or style, everyone rushes to imitate.

Robyn Campbell said...

I'm female but I write picture books and MG adventure/humor. And did you know that fantasy picture books are the thing now? I think fantasy is a popular genre, yes, but the reason all writers write whatever they write is simply this: our lives before growing up and becoming writers formed us, shaped us into this road we all travel on. We encircle close to the ideals we learned as children. And if you've read a lot of fantasy, you can see it in a lot of these books. C.S. Lewis for one.

Excellent post. I'm glad to have been a part of this challenge, thankful to have met so many wonderfully interesting writers such as yourself. :0)

Shellie said...

I agree that lots of women write YA, MG, and fantasy, but there's also a wave of them writing romance. And yes, we seen to be the overwhelming majority in this aspiring writer gig. I have only had one male critique member in the sevens years I've been writing.

It's great if women have been inspired to write because of J.K. Rowling. Still, everyone should take care to write what they're passionate about. Keep originality alive!

Lucy Adams said...

I don't write YA, so I can't answer any of the questions; but I fer you may be bringing a world of wrath down upon yourself. (Not a bad way to get new readers. Kudos.)

I fear what Z might bring.

Lucy

Sky said...

I started out wanting to write thrillers but found they were too difficult for my current skills. YA, at least for me, is a whole lot easier and fun.

Word Nerd said...

My guess, cynic that I might be, is that some writers see one thing sell really well and then they scurry to create something similar in the hope that they can find publication/money/Oprah-guest-spot-fame. Once a few get written and sold, a whole gob follow suit, with many being sorry examples, but by that time, a trend is in full bloom and publishers are hungry to maximize the ride.

I could be wrong though. Maybe chicks just dig this stuff.

I’m A-Z Blogging and my “Y” post is right here.

Jarmara Falconer said...

I have purple hair and write Timeslip/steampunk with horror and a hint of romance... Very slight as I'm not into romance never have, never will.

Jarmara Falconer said...

Ps Thank you for drop by my blog

mooderino said...

Thanks for all the great comments, short and long (and very long). Been a very interesting range of views on this subject.
cheers,
mood

Lindsey said...

I played D&D, and I'm a girl! But I disagree with you that people write YA because the narrative is simplistic and somehow easier. I read YA, a lot of it, and there's nothing simple about it. I've read plenty of books geared for adults, however, that were very simplistic. Writing YA isn't easier or harder than any other genre; it's just filling a niche.

I work at a high school, and the girls clamor for a good love story, probably because they want to live vicariously through books. I feed their addiction, because hey, at least they're reading.

I write YA because of these girls. I see their daily struggles to know who they are, to be accepted, and survive the hell called high school. If I can help provide a glimmer of escape for them, then I'm going to do it.

mooderino said...

@Lindsey - Hemingway wrote in a very simple manner, but the ideas contained in his stories were very complex. YA is simplistic on a conceptual level, as most children's fiction is (for obvious reasons). There may be a lot going on at the surface level, but it's pretty straightforward below.

The thing about satisfying the need for romance in girls is whether that kind of wish fulfilment is going to help in the long run. It's certainly more comfortable than pushing them to challenge themselves, but is that a good thing?

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I write YA contemporary. Yes, there's romance in YA novels, especially those with a female protagonist, but not always. Depending on the story, the romance might be just a minor subplot.

Romance is included in many YA novels because girls love to read about it, and they are tend to read novels more than guys (regardless of the genre).

There are many issued based books that avoid romance because it's not appropriate to the plot (like Speak). Please don't assume that all YA books are just about romance and nothing else. Okay, YA paranormal romances fit that bill, but that's why the word 'romance' is part of the genre. ;)

mooderino said...

@Stina - I do get that there is a range of books under the umbrella of YA, but I'm mainly talking about those I perceive as dominating the market at the moment (although maybe my perception is off).

And why are female writers choosing to write specifcally for this teen market? I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but I'm curious why so many are all making the same choice.

Lindsey said...

Moody, I think we might have to just disagree on this one. Saying YA novels are simplistic, in my opinion, seriously bashes the intellect of YA readers and writers. Any genre of book can be complex or simplistic.

Wish fulfillment and escapism is why we read fiction, right? It's why I do...

mooderino said...

There are some very smart 15 year olds in the world and some very dumb 30 year olds, but to say 15 year olds are as smart as 30 year olds would just be factually incorrect.

YA books, in general, are simpler in their construction. They can stilll be well written, but children's books aren't designed to be as sophisticated as adult books. And there's a sliding scale in between the two.

Kids who read adult books are considered to be at the top end of their group, and adults who read kids' books are considered to be at the low end of theirs.

I can see why the word 'simplistic' might be taken as an insult, but I mean it as a basic description of general industry standards. Less sophisticated? They're also shorter, by and large, but there are exceptions to that too.

Most of this is guess work on my part though. I think it all got very confusing once I started seeing grown ups reading HP on the way to work.

Sarah McCabe said...

Wow. Could you more effectively have stuck your foot in it and insulted a whole bunch of writers/bloggers? I doubt it. I've wondered a lot of the same questions about the popularity of YA. However, I try to keep my baseless assumptions to a minimum. :P

First, how much YA have you read? Little to none? If so, you really should avoid making any judgments about the genre. It really sounds like you're describing Twilight and then sitting back and saying why is all fantasy YA like this? It's not. There are different sub genres there and you're ignoring them.

Fantasy stories in general are wish fulfillment. Many people like their entertainment to be fantastic to contrast with the tedium of day jobs and the ordinariness of their lives. There's nothing wrong with that. It's as healthy as daydreaming.

It's true that women, young and old, often have a strong desire for romance in their lives. Sometimes the only way they can get it is from their entertainment. This is natural and reading books with heavy romance elements is a lot healthier for girls and women than going out and getting into random relationships to find that romance.

All fiction fulfills a need. Romance fulfills a specific kind of need. But assuming that all YA is about Romance with a capital R... you sound very poorly informed on this topic.

mooderino said...

@sarah - I did make it clear I was throwing these things for discussion, not as proclomations. Sometimes you need to be a little provocative to get people talking (as you can see).

My experience of the genre is based on the most well known books, plus the WiP I read and critique on sites like Critique Circle, authonmy, youwriteon and a couple of others. Dozens of writers, hundreds of chapters. It gives me a pretty good idea of what people are aiming for in the genre.

But I don't claim to have a complete understanding and I know there are a lot of sub-genres. I'm just asking about the most popular stuff and why it is so attractive to writers. If you read some of my other posts I think you'll see they're all pretty playful and not malicious at all.

Munir said...

For some reason my kids jumped from Beverly Cleary and Judy Bloom right into books for grown ups. One of them refuses to read now. I don't buy books for myself, but use my kids books for enjoyment. I would think that Jerry Spinelly makes the room inbetween Kids and young adults and so did Roald Dahl.

Marion Sipe said...

Well, I'm female, and I write fantasy, but I write political/adventure/epic fantasy for an adult audience. However, I have noticed a trend toward YA of late and I think that is in part due to the success of JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. I also think this is because urban fantasy has become quite popular and now expanding, some sections of it reaching toward a younger audience.

Urban fantasy is popular among women, and often has elements of romance, and it only makes sense that those would remain even in the younger market. I'm not suggesting this is the whole of the reason, but I also don't see it as an issue. I do think that romance (as a genre) has lost a lot of its fascination for modern women. As a genre (there are of course books that break the mold) the women often need rescuing or once they have "landed their man" become dependent upon him (even while swearing fierce independence) etc., and many women are tired of it.

Urban fantasy--and fantasy in general--allows for a strong female protag, who can express a desire to love and be loved without having to lose her power to do it. In some cases, she can even draw her power from it without having to be defined by it.

When it comes to epic/political/adventure fantasy and the trend toward female protags and some romance (to varying degrees), I actually think of Jacqueline Carrey as a driving force. Her Kushiel series speaks to a lot of the same topics, only it comes right out with it. Women have been put in a submissive place in society and a lot of us feel as if we're coming away from that in the way we are portrayed. There's still a long way to go, and part of that is portrayal which depicts strength and does not weaken that strength just because love, sex, and romance is involved.

We can be women, we can love, and not lose our strength in it. Some books do not do a good job of portraying this (Twilight springs to mind), but this is the trend I see. Now, I don't read a lot of YA, so I could be wrong, but that's my .02.

mooderino said...

Thank you Marion, that was very well put. I've been doing posts on first chapter analysis, fantasy is going to be my next genre in the series. Maybe Ms Carrey would be a good candidate? I'll have to check her out.

Marion Sipe said...

Thank you. It's been a while since I've read them, but yeah I think she'd be an interesting example. The books have their problems (what doesn't, right?), but they're definitely worthy of analysis. I'll look forward to your analysis! (of the fantasy gere, not just Ms Carrey!):-D

Liz Fichera said...

Very interesting post!

I personally would like to see more YA books written in the male POV. I believe there are more male readers than the bookshelves and publishers would have us believe too.

I do like to read "chick lit" but I dislike the term because it's become a negative. Chick lit is more about the development of relationships and self-discovery than it is about the romance. That genre has evolved, as stated up in this comment stream, and I believe very strongly that it's begun to make comeback. Unfortunately, much of it hides out in the YA shelves at the moment.

Margo Berendsen said...

Yes, YA Fantasy female writer here. yes, there are a fair number of these books where romance is the primary element. But I think there are just as many (if not more, in my experience so far) where romance is the sub plot and the main plot is overcoming. Overcoming prejudice or misunderstanding or exploitation or abuse (the Near Witch, Voices of Dragons, Firelight, Nightshade, Wings), or overcoming the spread of evil (the Iron King, Wicked Lovely, Pegasus).

And even where the romance is the main plot it's a lot more complicated than wish-fulfillment (though there is some of that, certainly). There's usually a strong element of the complications that choices bring. Romance yes but also heartbreak associated with it, family or friend conflict, etc.

I write in this genre first of all because I love fantasy. Huge LOTR fan here. I gravitated from writing adult fantasy to YA because I love the age that's on the edge of childlike wonder and adult introspection, and not yet to adult weariness and cynicism. I think it's important for teens to realize that seeking after self-fulfillment will not bring lasting fulfillment but getting involved in something larger than themselves can.

Sorry, long comment. But what a great topic! I am so glad you brought it up and loved reading all the comments.

Margo Berendsen said...

Just noticed Sarah's comment up there and your response to it. If you are reading unpublished work in the YA fantasy genre primarily (though you said you've also read the most popular YA fantasy), you are probably getting a skewed representation. Many new writers are still figuring out their themes and I'm guessing you're going to run into a lot more wish-fulfillment in these early versions of manuscripts. But here, I'm actually speaking out of my league, because I read mostly published YA fantasy and only a handful of unpublished (my CPs).

And I thought you qualified yourself very well as I you threw this topic out for discussion. No raising of hackles, here :)

mooderino said...

Cheers Margo, excellent insights for me to chew on.

I agree the unpublished stuff isn't representitive of the stuff already out there, but what initially drew me to this subject wasn't the popularity of the genre, but the dominance of the genre among aspiring writers who blog. So what people are drawn to in WiP's is quite telling, imo.

As for wish-fulfilment, I see that heartbreak, love triangle, I wasn't looking for love but love found me type complications all part of the wish fulfilment paradigm. It's the woman who has done nothing to cause the pain/problem/love of two vampires, fighting to overcome against the odds scenario that I consider wishful.

Love the long comments, partial to them myself. Thanks for keeping your hackles shackled.

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