What the heck? What’s McMullen doing now? What’s with the negativity? Spin the header around. Come on, give us the upbeat already.
You shall have it, Dear Reader. In due time.
I couldn’t let the “target audience” question rest. I went on line. Read up on “writing for YA,” what is YA,” “considering writing for YA?” etc. I found out some key bits.
YA= 12-18 year old demographic. YA is not a genre. Adults also read YA. Adults often make up greater percentage of YA market than 12-18 year olds do.
I also read up on a YA sub-category: Middle Grade Fiction. (I know. It doesn’t get any less exciting sounding than that.) Middle-Grade Fic is also not a genre, but a demographic: 9-11 year olds.
Middle Grade Fiction tops out at 50K words, typically. YA for 12-18 year olds, at 90K.
YA is allowed to talk about gritty topics, just like in Fiction for Grownups. One caveat: ending should not be completely bleak. Give reader a glimmer of hope.
So far what I was reading was giving me hope. So far Emma was ticking off all the boxes. Now came the killer. In YA, the protagonist is typically a few years older than her target audience.
Uh oh. Big trouble now. Emma is 11. My target readership is a nine-year-old? Definitely not going to work. 9-year-olds are still struggling to make it through paragraphs. Dick and Jane books, sure. Box Car Kids, Little House on Prairie–also yes. But anything more complex? No.
I deliver the bad news to the Mon. p.m. writing group. I’m just about to tell them “Ditch it. Scrap reading the EMWS manuscript. Don’t bother returning. Stick the pages in your recycle bin. The whole Emma thing is over. Done.”
M, our group leader, raises her hand. “Four words.” She crooks her fingers, one at a time. “To. Kill. A. Mockingbird.”
Oh. Scout. Her. Also an 11-year-old. Also telling a story about racism, bigotry, families; the traps we get into and our struggles to get out of them.
The writer soldiers on.