OK. Admit it. If you are an avid reader, even over the age of 30, you’ve read at least one young adult book or series. You know I’m right so stop trying to deny it. We all do it. Kids read novels written for adults because they want to feel older and more mature. Adults read books written for teens because they want to remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time, discover the world for the first time, get your heart broken for the first time. It’s just part of who we are as human beings.
Why does it matter you say? Well it doesn’t really. But I believe there is a fundamental difference in reviews given to these books by adults who are readers and adults who are writers. And here it is.
A person who is 17 reads a young adult novel and they can very easily fit themself right into that story. Maybe they identify with the main character, maybe not… but chances are, there is someone in that story that reminds them of the way they are. So they almost always love the story.
An adult who reads a young adult novel may love the story and they may even identify with one of the characters but they can’t really fit themselves into the story and here’s why. An adult reader might remember some of what it felt like to be so young but as we get older we tend to try and erase or cover up or “see through rose-colored glasses” some of the dumb things we all did during our teenage years. Therefore, when they read about a teenage character doing it in a story, an adult reader’s immediate response is “No way. No one’s that stupid!” Right?
You know I’m right. You do exactly that. And you know who you are.
So why doesn’t a writer do this?
Before I go one let me clarify by saying this: I’m not saying we’re all this way because there are exceptions to every rule. (Yes even what I said above…there really are exceptions to every single rule out there)
However, a writer typically has the ability to become their characters. They feel their pain. The character’s sadness breaks the writers heart too. Elation and joy… Yeah that’s shared too. So when a writer reads, they can more easily put themself into the role of the character. And then, the silly things characters do don’t seem quite so dumb to them.
To put this another way. A reader sees the story from the characters point of view. They are an observer, watching from the sidelines. A writer lives the story. They are the character. They are in the story. And so they don’t see things the same way an observer would.
Life works the same way.
Do you ever see your problems or their solutions as easily as an observer does?
I’m just sayin.
Check back soon for more musings and other nonsense from my head.
© J. C. Morrows 2013
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