Why I Write for Young Adults

Today is my birthday, *throws confetti* so I thought that, instead of a typical “Julie post” centering on a specific writing technique, I would post something a bit more philosophical, addressing why I write Young Adult fiction. My birthday seemed a proper occasion to discuss the reasons why a writer who has moved beyond her own “young adulthood” might continue to write about characters in their teens. Tucked in with my “reasons why” are a few “reasons why not.” In other words, YA isn’t for everyone. In explaining why I continue to write for young adults, maybe I can help other writers see why YA might be right – or wrong – for them.

Reason #1 – Teen Protagonists Rock

Why are teen protagonists so fabulous? I could list dozens of reasons, but here are my favorite characteristics of teens, in no particular order:

  • They are still discovering who they are. They can do something incredible and not seem to be acting out of character, or be going against everything that has defined them for the past ten years.
  • They aren’t jaded yet. They may think they are, but their ideas are still flexible. Compare your favorite teen hero to his or her parent to see what I mean. Katniss did things in THE HUNGER GAMES that her mother could never have done. Well, maybe her mother could have done those things, before she’d been broken by life. In other words, back when she, herself, was a teenager.
  • Teenagers are resilient. Their young bodies bounce back. If Haymitch survived some of the physical challenges Katniss survived, the writer might lose some credibility. Imagine Dumbledore in Harry’s place and I’m sure you can see what I mean.
  • One of the universal truths of humanity is that we all started out young and naïve. We all were children once. We all were teenagers. The experience of seeing the world through young eyes is universal.
Read the rest of the post on my group blog, Let the Words Flow, here.


  1. I totally agree. I guess I'm young at heart and just love that age group, but I ONLY write YA. It's my little niche, and I'm perfectly happy there! So I definitely will join ya.

  2. What amazing timing.

    My wip is in its genesis, with the story beginning to unfold in my slightly warped mind. At this point, I could see the benefits of writing a YA – the scenes, the first-blush of adulthood - but the reasons escaped me.

    I like reading YA but prefer to write adult. However, with the current crop of best sellers, it seems to me the genre is less youth and more adult anyway.

    Hmmm, I will ponder this equation further. Thanks for the great post.

  3. Happy Birthday
    **blows noisemakers, lights candle/s**

  4. @Carol - Being young at heart is almost as good as truly being young. In some ways, it may actually be better! ;)

  5. @Huntress - Thanks for the best wishes, and I'm glad this post made you think! Good luck with the WIP! :)

  6. Happy Birthday!! Eat cake and enjoy :) And might I add...though I know I am a fair bit older than 17...sometimes I still think I might be 17. So maybe that's why YA appeals to so many "grown-ups"--inside every one of us there's a teenager still testing the waters!

  7. @Rowenna - OMGosh you are SO RIGHT! And I'm enjoying my day very much! :) Thanks!

  8. Hope you had a wonderful day on your birthday! You're so right -- teen protagonists offer so much that you'd never get from adults.

  9. @Amie Thanks for the b-day wishes! And Happy New Year to you! :)

  10. Beautifully said, Julie and Happy Birthday a week late.
    I couldn't agree more. I am 43, yet still remember the days when I believed myself invincible. When every day contained a life-or-death moment.
    "They aren’t jaded yet. They may think they are, but their ideas are still flexible."
    That is exactly why I love my teen protags. They are better able to accept things in this world which adults would automatically deny. The best part of your sentence is--"they may think they are" Teens are close enough to adults that you can give them characteristics such as cynicism or apathy, and it doesn't seem too far fetched when they shake them off for passion and wonder.