Hello! First of all, I love Mythcreants and have been a fan for years. Now, onto the question! I’m a writer, but I’m also not quite an adult yet. However, the stories I write are about adults (because I don’t want kids in my military sci fi). So what is the difference between teenage and adult perspectives? Any tips on making my adults sound more distinctly, well, adult? I don’t want to get sent to the YA zone by a potential publisher because my age is apparent through my writing!
Thank you, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the site!
When it comes to depicting characters who are older than you, the thing to keep in mind is that there isn’t an actual line with kids on one side and adults on the other. People age and change throughout their entire lives; young people just change faster. But even though the rate of change slows down, an adult in their 20s probably has more in common with a teenager than with another adult in their 40s.
As people age, they:
- Are more independent and depend less on their parents. (People in their 20s are a lot more independent than most teenagers, but they often still rely on their parents.)
- Figure out who they are, what they want to do with their lives, and what works for them, often growing in confidence.
- Are less likely to take risks.
- Are less likely to get involved in social drama, just because their social lives often become more stable.
- Are more experienced and educated.
- Have less energy and stamina. They value sleep a lot more and as they age, change habits to avoid aches and pains.
However, these differences are often much smaller than the differences between individuals, and for some people, the reverse could be true.
Considering that you must have already consumed countless stories written by adults and featuring adults, I don’t think you’re going to create adults that your readers don’t believe are adults. Instead, I would look more at the specialities your adults are involved in. For instance, telling a military story is pretty challenging for someone with no military experience, regardless of age. That’s something you’d want to do a lot of research on, and you might consider reading fiction and nonfiction stories by people in the military about military life. Parenting young kids is another area where you might want to get some input from people who are parents.
The reason why few teenagers publish novels is simply because building the skills to write a publishable novel takes so many years that most teenagers are adults by the time their work is at that level. It’s not because there’s something wrong with writing as a teenager. I don’t think your age will add some weakness to your stories that never appears in the writing of inexperienced adults. If a publisher does want to publish your work in YA category, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Tons of adults read YA, and the bestselling YA novels usually outsell other genres. In fact, I think the biggest reason YA is looked down on is that it’s associated with women.
I could give you some advice on making your work feel more adult, but I think that would be doing you a disservice. Instead, you should simply practice and improve your craft, research the subject matter you’ll be covering, and tell the story you want to tell. Any compromises you make to those things to seem older – or avoid the YA category – will only hurt you.