What is ‘New Adult’ ?

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Okay guys, so what is ‘New Adult’? Well to be honest with you, I only heard the term myself  a few months ago. Looking online it would seem that the NA and YA debate has been going on for quite some time, and as I describe myself as someone who writes both adult and YA fiction, I thought it was about time I got to grips with this new genre… NA.

I Googled around a bit to answer this question, and it would seem that everyone has their own thoughts on it – just like they did on YA when it became popular all those years ago. Here’s the sum of my findings; you might not agree with me, you may have your own ideas – and if you do, please feel free to add to this post by leaving a comment below.

Age:

In YA, readers like reading about characters who are just a little above their own age – so the maximum age here is around 19. NA is there to bridge the gap between young readers/ teenagers to, well New Adults – so characters should be in their twenties and therefore have scope to deal with more adult situations. 

Sex:

To me, the biggest ‘no,no’ in YA is sex. You don’t have sex scenes in them, you can elude ever so slightly to them, but you can’t glamorize sex in any way – same goes for drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – no wait, rock ‘n’ roll is fine! LOL

Within the NA genre there is room for sex, as characters are older and it would be quite frankly unrealistic to not include at least a mention , just don’t go too over the top. Personally I’d stick to kissing, and leave the reader at the bedroom door.

Content:

In YA the themes and character arcs are very much all about growing up and turning from child into adult. Responsibility and changing for the better are common traits in YA books. When you hit your twenties you should have already gone through these personality changes, so you really need to think back to the main issues you had at that age. To me, its very much that you suddenly have all these new adult responsibilities, yet still have some childhood restrictions on you. Parents of twenty somethings will know all about this – they’re still a child in your eyes, but in the eyes of the world they’re an adult.

Character:

With NA, you have more room to move on your character’s lives and what they do. In their twenties they could still be at university, or be working. They could even be married, or have a child. To me, NA seems to lend itself more to the supernatural and paranormal genre. Themes and content that were off limits in YA are suddenly back on the menu with NA. And although I’ve never censored either action or bad language in my YA stories, you can really go for the gusto in NA.

As always, check out publisher guidelines before submitting. Most major publishing houses have started splitting off NA into its own imprint and will all have different views of what NA means to them.

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One comment on “What is ‘New Adult’ ?

  1. The problem I have, is that I made my protag 20 because it fit in with a biological reality, but the themes and content are more YA than Adult – or even NA. Sadly, NA is coined synonomously with sex and contemporary fiction – and that’s what’s selling I’ve been told. I’m seriosuly considering reducing my protags age to 19 because of this. I’m writing UF and finding it difficult to find any other published NA UF :S

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