Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Writer Wednesday: Writing For Adults


Today's topic comes from Mirka, who said, "...tell us some more about your adult suspense book, and how writing for grown-ups is different than MG or YA, beyond the MC's age."

Great topic, Mirka! Thanks!

Okay, well my adult books are very different from my YA or MG novels. It almost seems like there are different rules for writing for adult. Let me start with what I've noticed from reading adult books. First, things are described in much more detail. Second, backstory is common and often told upfront. Third, there are more dialogue tags. 

I could go on, but these three blew my mind. For years, I listened to everyone say, "No info dumping!" and "Try not to use dialogue tags!" Yet every adult book I've read does both. Now I don't mean pages of backstory. Not at all. But a brief paragraph of who the MC is and how they go where they are is totally common. I've even see the dreaded "My name is..." format. Again, this blew my mind. And no, I'm not doing that. I've been conditioned not to.

So writing for adults is tough for me. I have to remind myself to step back, observe the scene, and give more details than I would to a teenager whose attention span isn't very long. I also need to make sure my characters are all introduced in ways that the reader will remember them from one book to the next, which means reintroducing them in books two, three, four, etc. Again, this is so different for me. But my adult beta readers are telling me this is normal, and from the books I've been reading, they are correct.

The easy things for me are writing characters who are closer to my age. Mine tend to be in the mid/late twenties to early thirties. I know how people this age speak, act, think, etc. Teens can be challenging because they change so much! Adults, not so much. I also think it's fun to write about adults in different professions. I'm exploring some that I've considered but never followed through on for various reasons, and that's kind of amazing. 

In many ways, writing for adults is freeing. I feel like a rebel, breaking rules I've always been told to follow. ;) Who doesn't like to break a few rules, right? And the dialogue and actions come more naturally for me. So yeah, I'm enjoying it, and I think I'll keep writing for adults.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

20 comments:

  1. Interesting about the differences between adult fiction and YA/middle grade, particularly the dialogue tags. As far as info dump, I don't think that's advisable no matter what you're writing, but, yeah I can see more backstory in adult novels just because they're older and have more history, hence motivations.

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    1. Yeah, to me backstory is info dumping because that's what I've always been told. I've always revealed it slowly as needed and mostly through dialogue. With adult, it comes more in narration, though still not an actual info dump. It's just necessary information given earlier on.

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  2. My writing's always been geared towards adults. I'd be out of my depth with YA.

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    1. The two are very different. I really enjoy both though.

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  3. Interesting. I'm writing the second book in my NA series and have plans for a NA time travel, so this info is very helpful. Thanks!

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  4. I've written a couple short stories for adults, but usually of the satirical comedy fashion. I do have a couple adult novels up my sleeves, so I appreciate your insight greatly. Let's break some rules, eh?

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  5. I never knew that about that YA/MG and adult books. Interesting. I feel you about reintroducing characters from book to book. I have to keep reminding myself to do that.

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    1. Yes, my adult beta readers constantly remind me that they've read about 20 books since my previous one and they don't remember who every character is. ;) It's a great point.

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  6. It sounds to me like you are the type of author that has had the experience that allows you to move into other genres with relative ease. You know what works for one, but then again, you recognize how it can work for the other. That's a good quality to have! Go with what comes to you naturally and I think you will always thrive. :)

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    1. I feel like I'm making it up as I go. LOL No, I do a lot of research—in the form of reading current books in those genres and age levels. That's my favorite research. :)

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  7. Great post. I've never written for adults, but the editor for my latest story said I had a lot of info dump at the beginning and we ended up starting with what once was chapter 4, and I added the necessary information a little at a time. Much better. You do both YA and Adult so well.

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    1. Yes, I had a novel where I chopped five chapters. I liked the first four chapters, but the pace got really good at chapter five, and that's when I realized I should just start there.

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  8. Very nice! I like writing for adults (short stories), too.

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    1. It's funny because I never thought I'd write for adults. Maybe I'm growing up. ;)

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  9. I don't mind info dumps if they are small and infrequent. Sometimes it's nice to know that someone grew up in a small town or a big city. It helps me understand why they are the way they are, because I have these preconceived ideas about people from other places based on stories I've read in the past.

    Another piece of data I don't mind having is the person's background prior to the story I'm currently reading. Like, is the character a retired veteran or police officer, even if the character they are portraying in the story an old man with an insignificant role. It makes the character more "deep" to me.

    Great post Kelly! Thanks for sharing this. Makes me think about my reading experience.

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    1. Yes, this is exactly what I mean! You just don't do this in MG or YA, but it's normal for adult. To be honest, I like information like this too as long as it's small and infrequent, like you said.

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  10. Thank you for the post. All good observations, Kelly. Also a reminder that good writing rules are not set in stone regardless of the readers' age.
    What has always struck me is how much more generous and lavish descriptive passages are in books for older readers.
    Seems you are undergoing a re-training. No doubt this will enrich all your writing.

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