There’s something irresistible about a young adult on a mission, whether it be saving the world, conquering a coming-of-age crisis, or embarking on a journey of discovery. As I’ve transitioned from the young adult to adult age bracket, my interest in this genre has only increased, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why? There are a few trademarks qualities of the young adult fiction genre that contribute to its universal appeal.
#1: We all love an underdog.
Have you ever read a young adult novel where the teenage hero or heroine is on top of the world? Even if page one opens with that scenario, you can expect that moment to get snatched away, and the character to spend the rest of the story fighting to restore or reclaim what’s rightfully his.
In Nadine Brandes’s Fawkes, the story opens on the eve of Thomas’s color ceremony where he will finally receive a mask from his father and earn his honor. However, his father is a no-show, and Thomas plummets to destitution on a quest to find his father and find out why he didn’t come. You better believe I’m cheering for Thomas and want to see him succeed.
#2: We all experience setbacks and “square-one” scenarios.
Let’s be honest. Teenagers aren’t the only ones with life crises. Adults encounter career, relational, or homelife obstacles that often blindside us. Perhaps a relationship falls apart or the boss pushes a white slip our way. Those young adult insecurities resurface with fury when we find ourselves facing the unknown all over again.
Young adult fiction is full of unknown. In my novel The Reactionary releasing in February, my heroine Portia doesn’t know if an international ally will help the Brotherhood’s tenuous government fight off attacks from a global dictator or stab them in the back. But like the other relationships in her life, she must make herself vulnerable and attempt an alliance, because love and liberty are worth the risk.
#3: We all enjoy imaginary road trips.
Young adult fiction has a corner on the speculative fiction market. Speculative fiction is a fancy term for a story that asks “what if?” What if society were two hundred years in the future? What if dragons existed? What if Narnia were real?
The beauty of imaginary road trips is that they can teach us something about real life. In Emily Golus’s Escape to Vindor, her heroine Megan becomes trapped in the imaginary world she created as a personal escape from the real world. As a result, she must learn to confront her very real fears if she’s going to save Vindor and be able to return to her regular life.
#4: We all want a good story.
When people ask me why I write for young adults, I tell them that I write for young adults and the young at heart. I’m including myself in that second category. Regardless of life stage, this genre offers a universality that resonates with all ages.
Writing Prompt/Story Starter: A road is just a road, isn’t it? Until it becomes…
Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com
Writing Prompt: The writers of Inspired Prompt challenge you to create. Dream of a place and a time. Tell a story, teach a precept. Inspire. Encourage. Lead the way.
Genre: What is it, and why do you need it?
The most general genres:
- Short story
Classic genres may include tragedy, science fiction, fantasy, mythology, adventure, mystery.
Other major book genres are: drama, romance, action-adventure, thriller, young adult (YA), and dystopian.
I could go on all day, creating and populating these lists. Yes, there are that many, and I haven’t even mentioned the sub-genres. I could probably even come up with some sub-sub-genres.
Over the next few weeks, as sugarplums dance in your heads, you fuss over what to put in the children’s stockings, and marathon cookie bake (maybe that’s just me), we’ll be addressing genres here at Inspired Prompt. You needed a distraction, right?
Maybe you just completed NaNoWriMo and you need to sharpen the genre of your manuscript to get it ready.
A new year is beginning in just a few weeks. Maybe one of your resolutions is to finally start that book! But, how do you know what genre to write? Start writing and hope to find a niche?
It’s usually better to know up front, before you begin. The superheroes of Inspired Prompt are here to help guide you through the maze. Umm. Humor is another genre in fiction, by the way.
So, how do you figure it all out? Here’s a clue:
What do you like to read? If you love mysteries, you’ll probably write mysteries. I love historical fiction. Most of the books I’ve written have been…you guessed it, historical fiction. But I also write suspense. Historical suspense is another genre I loved to read, as a young adult.
Should you stick with one? You may want to begin with one. Become an “expert,” then try something else. Don’t be surprised, though, if you end up back at the first one. Some famous authors never write anything else. Stephen King, for instance, and Nora Roberts. Hey, it works for them.
Like the adage KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), sometimes it’s best to stay with what you know. Unless you’re miserable there and end up being a square peg in a round hole. Yes, this paragraph is overrun with clichés, but I hope you get the picture.
As we introduce our subtopics, I hope you’ll get involved by asking questions or sharing your own experiences and expertise.
If we have helped you with your writing, please let us know. That would be as special as a gift. Yes, one of the best of all gifts is to know that what you’re doing is of value to someone else.WRITING PROMPT: Suspense or romance? Add a sentence to this prompt to give it either a suspenseful slant, or a romantic one: The man outside Mary’s door stood with his back to her, but there was something familiar about him.
Writing Devotions: Bible Study
“So, what do you want to do next?” my Bible study partner asked me.
“How about the book of Judges? Let’s study actual scripture.”
And just like that, I tied my Bible into the center of my bandana, fastened it to a stick and propped the stick on my shoulder. Like the Pilgrim who made his progress, I began a marvelous journey.
Well, maybe not marvelous. Sometimes, it was frightening, exhilarating, even illuminating. Mostly, though, it was humbling.
As I dug in to each chapter, I gained a more sober conviction of my human depravity, a deeper awe for the absolute sovereignty of God and His plan, and a greater appreciation for the redemptive power of Christ Jesus.
These truths are too good not to share. Too life-altering not to share with excellence.
When writing a Bible study, we turn to the Bible itself. Within its 66 books, we find answers for every question and instructions for every endeavor.
Here are some tips on getting started with writing a Bible study.
- Be in the word. Read 2 Timothy 2:15. We cannot write about that which we have not known, so get to knowing. Begin at the beginning. Begin at chapter one, verse one of a single book. And read several different translations. I love the poetics of the King James Version, but sometimes, it’s hard for me to understand. For a deeper journey into God’s word, explore NKJV, ESV, NIV (I prefer the NIV copyrighted prior to 2011). The Message is a great way to read the Bible in common terms, many people quote from it and God can use it. Keep in mind that books like The Message are considered paraphrases, not translations or transliterations.
- Use the right tools. Read Proverbs 11:14. Ever try to hammer a nail with a screwdriver? It can be done, but it’s a lot easier to use the proper tool. Bible study is the same way.
- Use a trusted Study Bible. I prefer Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. My husband prefers the Crossway ESV Study Bible. Our Christmas gift this year is an investment in the ESV Reformation Study Bible by Reformation Trust. Do your research on study Bibles and be careful. Pray for discernment and protection. (We should be doing that no matter what we begin.)
- Let scripture interpret scripture. Most Bibles include a narrow strip of verses that correspond to little letters in the text. These are cross references. They indicate where words, phrases or verse intentions are found in other places. They contain absolute jewels of information.
- Go to the pros. I often use the BLB app. I dig into biblegateway.com. Both of these online resources are rich depositories of commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, translation comparisons and more cross references. Another online resource is www.gotquestions.org. Hardbound commentaries usually hide out in church libraries. Another book is called Where to Find it In the Bible. It’s like a concordance, but is more topical than a word search resource. (https://www.christianbook.com/where-find-it-in-the-bible/ken-anderson/9780785211570/pd/11578)
- Context is key. Flathead screwdrivers will sub for a Phillips, but a Phillips is no match (or fit) for a screw that requires a flathead. Now, I can grab an ordinary kitchen knife, but chances are, I’ll end up with a wonky knife tip. The same principle applies to scripture. We can rig something to make it work, but if it’s not the right tool, it’s not the right tool. For good, God-honoring study writing, we must read and use the right scriptures. Look at historical context, the cultural context, and the textual context. Never forget that people have used scripture to justify sinful behavior. Don’t be those people.
- Give credit where credit is due. Read Exodus 20:15. Take good notes and cite your sources if an idea, phrase, or sentence is not your own. A simple citation is acceptable for informal written studies, but if you are writing for publication, try to find out the publisher’s guidelines before you begin. Plagiarism is stealing. Plain and simple. Stealing is bad. Do the good and necessary work up front. You will be thankful in the end.
- Choose your approach. Read 2 Timothy 3:16. Bible studies can deal with individual books, words, themes, or characters. Keep the study simple and focused. The Bible is complex, but not confusing if handled with prayer and care.
- Take off your shoes. Read Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18-19. Be very careful. When we write and share studies on the Bible, we must always remember that we walk on the holy ground of God’s word. Don’t trash the sacred. Bare feet are also good reminders of Romans 10:15. As writers who are Christ followers, we have beautiful feet. Write like our toes are showing. Even in winter.
- You will be overwhelmed at times. Read Psalm 119. Read it out loud. At 5 a.m., standing in front of the heater that is trying desperately to warm your little writing space. Make this passage your prayer and your praise. There is nothing you can write that God does not have control over. Trust Him.
Writing prompt: Your job is to encourage a complete stranger who is writing a Bible study for the first time. Write him or her a letter explaining how they are not alone. Use the following scriptures in your study: John 14:16; John 16; I Corinthians 12; Galatians 5:22-23.