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Violence in YA / Book Suggestions

Jerry

Scribe
Have a work of adult fiction and thinking of converting it into YA. Set in a non-descript medieval era, it does contain violence and a dark, philosophical, religious tone with some satanical elements. Basically, it's dark fantasy. What, if any, is the level of violence acceptable and tone in a YA novel? Of course, a work must be read to judge and see if I go too far... but I suppose, in example, one could say The Exorcist in its darkness could work as a YA, but would need to be trimmed and edited to fit the genre, but I wouldn't wish to remove the core pace and tone, or language. Simply, my work has its dark share of medieval warfare and violence, dark imagery, and philosophical musings.

Any examples of very dark fantasy that I may refer to that may be just on the edge? One that comes to mind for me is Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, straight from the opening scene which can be quite an unsettling image for young minds, yet... I want to go that route and push it, sprinkled with a philosophical message. By YA, I'm assuming 12-15 year old.
 

Jerry

Scribe
But why? Why not aim such a work at an older audience?

I tried... I guess. Still want to. A recent group critique sort of blindsided me and I felt they didn't understand what I was trying to accomplish. Sort of a modern take on Shakespeare, that style of beautiful language and imagery, symbolism... but very dark. I was aiming, still am for something different. When I received their rather odd critiques, for some time, the wind from my sails went out. I started to regress back to my old writer's emotions that its perhaps a waste of time to write - and then, while rereading it, like all writers (maybe?) I began to hate my work or at least, the struggle it takes me to put words so meaningful to me that meant nothing to others. Frankly, one or two did understand the language, but were lost in the story - which helped truly in the group to reassess the prose and pace. But I thought perhaps, if I kept it more simplified, changing it (not dumbing? it down) more to an acceptable crowd - maybe it could work better? I don't know. Honestly... I need to get excited about the work and I should be... and was. I guess I was/am looking for a new direction but perhaps should stay of course and let the cards fall were they may.
 
I tried... I guess. Still want to. A recent group critique sort of blindsided me and I felt they didn't understand what I was trying to accomplish. Sort of a modern take on Shakespeare, that style of beautiful language and imagery, symbolism... but very dark. I was aiming, still am for something different. When I received their rather odd critiques, for some time, the wind from my sails went out. I started to regress back to my old writer's emotions that its perhaps a waste of time to write - and then, while rereading it, like all writers (maybe?) I began to hate my work or at least, the struggle it takes me to put words so meaningful to me that meant nothing to others. Frankly, one or two did understand the language, but were lost in the story - which helped truly in the group to reassess the prose and pace. But I thought perhaps, if I kept it more simplified, changing it (not dumbing? it down) more to an acceptable crowd - maybe it could work better? I don't know. Honestly... I need to get excited about the work and I should be... and was. I guess I was/am looking for a new direction but perhaps should stay of course and let the cards fall were they may.

I'm not sure changing it to YA will help that, especially if that's not what you truly want to do. Don't steer your story away from what it really wants and needs to be. Especially not out of fear or other feelings of negativity. Perhaps you need to work everything out in a different way.
 

Jerry

Scribe
I'm not sure changing it to YA will help that, especially if that's not what you truly want to do. Don't steer your story away from what it really wants and needs to be. Especially not out of fear or other feelings of negativity. Perhaps you need to work everything out in a different way.

True. I thought perhaps a new direction would help the story and breed a new audience. I'm thinking more against it now. Not that I'm writing at all for a wide audience, fame, or success alone - and sure - those are all wonderful... but this has been a long, painstaking bleeding and... well, again... I become so unsure of myself. I guess that's just how it is. I just want to feel good again about being in front of the keys and tapping away, but lately... it has become once more, a disabling fear. I guess the change that I wanted was just masking it. I appreciate what you stated about not steering away from what the story needs and wants to be. Indeed... it certainly is a groaning. A good friend once told me... write from the gut. Sometimes I forget that as my fears spawn from the same queasy place. I'll try friends. Thank you... one and all for even responding.
 
Jerry I haven't tried to convert a work from one age-appropriate demographic to another, but I do have a suggestion for you as a thought-exercise: write a spin-off novella, back story bio or event, or short stories using the same Characters you have developed in your original work, but give the new mini-works the YA makeover.

That way, you're still thinking about your MC's, referencing the original work and what you like about it, but also get to explore your YA writing without tampering too much with the original.

Try writing about an ordeal the MC's may have gone through themselves at a younger age. (Or older.) It doesn’t have to tie in directly to your original work like a prequel or sequel, but gives you freedom to try your hand at your ideas for YA.

And I agree with the posters here... a lot of YA novels journey through some pretty dark and violent themes and philosophical ideas are broadly accepted reading **coughharrypottercough** but I have noticed that most YA authors tip-toe around [graphic/ explicit ] sexual intercourse, rape, incest, and acts of pedophilia. These acts are often implied, but not spelled out to the YA demographic. Everything else is basically fair game.
 

Miles Lacey

Maester
Have a work of adult fiction and thinking of converting it into YA. Set in a non-descript medieval era, it does contain violence and a dark, philosophical, religious tone with some satanical elements. Basically, it's dark fantasy. What, if any, is the level of violence acceptable and tone in a YA novel? Of course, a work must be read to judge and see if I go too far... but I suppose, in example, one could say The Exorcist in its darkness could work as a YA, but would need to be trimmed and edited to fit the genre, but I wouldn't wish to remove the core pace and tone, or language. Simply, my work has its dark share of medieval warfare and violence, dark imagery, and philosophical musings.

Any examples of very dark fantasy that I may refer to that may be just on the edge? One that comes to mind for me is Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, straight from the opening scene which can be quite an unsettling image for young minds, yet... I want to go that route and push it, sprinkled with a philosophical message. By YA, I'm assuming 12-15 year old.

Just make sure your protagonist is a teenager, the sex and violence isn't graphic and there's enough teen angst to keep a psychiatrist busy for the rest of their professional life and your story as it is will do fine as a young adult novel.
 
Just make sure your protagonist is a teenager, the sex and violence isn't graphic and there's enough teen angst to keep a psychiatrist busy for the rest of their professional life and your story as it is will do fine as a young adult novel.

Graphic violence is generally okay, but sex usually can't be more than fade-to-black. Lol about the teen angst.
 

Jerry

Scribe
Yes... I did have a young, teen girl who was the secondary main character which is what gave way to the change of thought. My research and reading found most YA were led by female protagonists, of course, not all, but in the fantasy and dark fantasy genre, it seemed to be in the majority, which led me to some rash decisions. It could work, but the change would be monumental - and I like 'Night Gardner's' thought process too on side efforts or short stories, which has been already conceived in character development that would draw from. All in all... it's quite nice to come to a place, this forum of positive thought and creativity who constructively challenge my doubts and set me on a proper path. Now, I must fight those fears and press on, trying my best not to give a damn about bad vibes and give a damn more about the telling. I've heard it said that doubt is one of the name's of intelligence. I must be wicked smart by now, so what am I doing to myself... ;)
 
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