Monday, September 28, 2009

The difference between YA and MG

Please trot over to MiG Writers, mg-vs-ya fiction to read an awesome defining post that should settle out some of the confusion that a lot of writers (even experienced/published ones have about where the genre lines are drawn).

First of all - I didn't realize that MG can be as little as 20,000 words. Then again, the genre includes stuff for kids between ages 8-12. Some of those books that I was thinking about would be for upper MG (11-14) and those would likely be the longer word counts. Whereas, I know I've seen a lot of MG books that average 20,000-40,000. I know the reason why too (duh) - when I was younger, I'd judge books by their cover and their size. If the books were too thin, I didn't bother with them, because I was limited as to how many books I could take out of the library on one visit and I didn't want to waste 'a book' on something I could read in one half-hour sitting.

When I was much younger (8-9), I had the same basic idea - except I didn't like books that were too thick or the print was too small. A happy size would have been the Goosebumps books. Thick enough and big print.

My younger brother was a little different because he had some kind of reading disability. Basically, he had to read the print aloud in order to comprehend. Or his comprehension was tied in to hearing the words. If something was too thick or the print was too small - then the book was a pass for him.

But I digress!

Back to that blog post - I think it's something that a lot of writers get really confused and frustrated about. Let's say, you want to write a YA novel, and you get people (crit partners, not the agents yet) complaining about the total word count or the age of the characters, or the content.

I know, speaking for myself, I've done the opposite! When reading something labeled as MG, I kinda get twitchy when I see the protagonist is 8 yrs old and the novel is the standard 40,000 words. To me, that isn't going to work. Maybe I'm still right. *is conflicted*

Two things from the blog post that stood out to me as important to remember - w/regards to the themes in your novel:

Children in the primary grades are still focused inward, and the conflicts in their books reflect that. While themes range from friendship to school situations to relationships with siblings and peers, characters are learning how they operate within their own world.

Then YA -

They begin to step outside themselves and see how they influence, and are influenced by, the larger world. They go beyond their backyard and encounter adult problems for the first time.

Then I thought that this was pretty cool:

Adrienne Kress says that pretty much anything is allowed in YA as long as the book adheres to the following rules:

1. The main character has to be a teenager.

2. The plot must have something to do with coming of age.

Her theory is that YA is actually a new genre, and that YA years ago was actually MG.

There is more to the blog than quoted here. Definitely worth checking out (if you haven't already on your own).

Personally speaking -

The difference comes down to:

1. Age of the protagonist
2. Themes
3. Word Count

SO -

1. I've always been told that the protagonists in MG are generally in the 9-14 range. You don't want to go older or younger.

2. As quoted above, themes for a MG novel are slightly different than YA. It is more discovery of self worth and connection to family and friends, and whatever goal that the kid has at the time. This could be my favorite - winning the gold at the Olympics (I hearted the Silver Blades skating books). MG CAN DEFINITELY have boyfriends or girlfriends (as Silver Blades did), but it should be 'sweet romance'.

3. No more than 50,000 - even though it obviously depends on the project. HP started out as a MG novel.

Writing update from weekend = NONE!

I feel better today than I did on Friday when sister went MIA (ran away with boyfriend who then proceeded to write illiterate epistles to my parents admonishing them for worrying about their daughter and ripping into her siblings, because sister apparently had slandered us to boyfriend. Well either that or his little feelings were hurt because I point blank told sister that I didn't like him) and I started feeling these mystery flu symptoms. Considering I'm my dad's daughter - by mid-Saturday, I had a thermometer close at hand and was routinely checking my temperature for fever spikes. I was seriously convinced I had the Swine Flu!

Problem with detecting a fever - I have no idea what a fever is for me. My normal temperature is generally low as in 96.0F. So if I have a 98.0 temperature, it could feel like a fever. But technically not alarming for parents and doctors. And I wanted them to feel alarmed, dang it! *hypochondriac rage* :P

Should get writing done this week - I expect.

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