Plot Without A Cause
Discovering, Defining and Blurring Boundaries
Young Adult book proposal submissions
Plots, Protagonists, Puberty! We love the Young Adult category because it behaves as its intended audience: irreverent, robust, defying definition and rebelling against straitjacket conventions. Spanning an entire spectrum of genres, it can be whatever you want it to be. Experimental and controversial ideas are being born in this constantly evolving arena, with authors fearlessly mixing genres and styles to address the volatile needs of their readers. The results vary, but the best ones produce visceral, raw storytelling, simultaneously terrible and beautiful in its verisimilitude.
Teenagers are beings in transit, navigating the murky world between childhood and adulthood. It is a period of many first experiences and explosive growth, full of emotional upheavals and poignant struggles on that journey to individual identity. Science tells us that the human brain experiences two significant growth spurts: first in infancy, and then changing the most around adolescence. Other than having raging hormones to deal with, teen brains lack a fully operational frontal cortex, which is in charge of reason, planning and modulating moods.
Those of us who can remember those tumultuous days can probably recall the awkwardness, the confusion, the purity and heaviness of emotion in the face of an uncertain future. The tension of feeling like an outsider, desperately wanting to fit in, and yet, compelled to define and assert one’s own uniqueness and individuality. Every decision, monumental; every mistake, unbearable.
While the main focus of YA books are teen protagonists and their myriad problems, issues and emotions, many have proven to be much more than maudlin teenage dramas. YA authors do not shy away from tackling darker, more difficult issues, recognising that young adults have to deal with very adult things. The deep complexities explored can help readers cultivate personal philosophies, and equip them with ways to understand and navigate their impending adulthood.
With YA being the fastest growing book category for publishers, it is clear that a much wider scope of human experience is being confronted in these books. Being fundamentally relatable, YA books of quality literary value attract many adults readers as well. Scores of YA book plots have spilled over into pop culture through Hollywood movies, with news of even more being optioned for film.
So take us back to the cusp of innocence lost, to a time of questionable fashion choices and impulsive decisions. Beyond bad skin and braces, before truly understanding consequence, there lies that enigmatic era that stretched on forever in the golden days of summer, but passed by in the blink of an eye.