Young Adult fiction or, YA, has grown exponentially in popularity over the past decade. Along with the growing admiration of this particular genre of writing, have been both YA writers and a broader YA audience. The YA Mystery, which is a relatively new sub-genre, is rapidly gaining momentum.
The YA Mystery begins by introducing a question then centers the plot and characters around uncovering the answer. There are many misconceptions surrounding YA fiction, the audience, and the actual writing itself. The following are 5 helpful tips to begin crafting a teen suspense novel.
Write for Your Reader
The biggest misconception around YA is the audience. Many believe that since the protagonist is generally a teen, that the readers would be the same age. While having a teen protagonist is essential, the age range can vary from 12 to 18. In some cases, a university-aged protagonist, usually around the first-year of college, has begun to emerge. This has sparked a “new adult” genre that markets more towards the 19-25 year age range.
Despite the age range, the problems and conflict should remain age appropriate for this audience base. It’s not to say that the protagonist’s problems or struggles should be the central driving force, only that they remain at a level that is relatable to the audience.
Don’t Simplify the Mystery
Just because you’re writing for a younger audience doesn’t mean you should assume that the writing should become simplified or unsophisticated. Teen readers are intelligent and much more progressive in their thinking thanks to the internet and social media. Allow the writing to become deep, dark, and twisty. Make sure to include plots that have well-thought out surprises and challenge them as they attempt to unravel the mystery; otherwise, suffer the loss of their attention and loyalty to future novels.
Incorporate the “Coming of Age” or “Hero’s Journey”
One of the primary motivations behind YA is that the protagonist takes some kind of emotional or psychological journey which results in a transition from child to adult. The YA mystery’s protagonist should also carry the characteristics of an amateur sleuth or very curious snoop. As the mystery unfolds two things being to occur, the young protagonist matures, as do their detective skills.
Point of View
First person and close third person are the most prevalent choices for POV in YA. The first person and close third person POV allow the reader to remain closely connected to the narrator and/or characters. Although these are the more popular types of POV, it’s not to say that the others can’t be explored and experimented with. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each will help determine which would be best suited to your story.
Read YA Mystery Books
Any genre that a writer gravitates toward should always be a source of their own reading material. If you’re going to write it, then it best to read as much as you can to keep your thoughts and ideas circling around the common themes and characteristics. Do some research to find out who some of the more popular YA writers are and study their work to see if you can locate strong techniques to apply to your own writing practices.