Is it new adult fiction? Figuring out what box to check

A decade ago, when If You Have to Ask was more of a toddler than the fine young lady it is now, I enrolled in Novel Writing V: A Continuing Writer’s Workshop at UCLA Extension. They have a great blog on writing, btw.

Anyway, in that class and often since, we struggled with how to categorize our work.

Looking for a match: Readers know best

Who knows best? The reader.

During these workshop days a lovely classmate named Lily gave me a copy of Villette by Charlotte Bronte, which she found at a garage sale. She said that my novel reminded her of the book, which isn’t to say I write like Charlotte Bronte, but more to say that my protagonist lives a lot in her head and “wants to assert her right to love and be loved” as the back cover explains. I never would have known!

Several people have asked me if I’ve read Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (I have, enjoyed it) once I tell them my novel is a coming of age story set in a high school. Prep was marketed as literary fiction, a deduction I came to since it was reviewed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Others have suggested that I’m writing for young adults because Jill Hagen is often confused about how the world works. But aren’t we all? Sometimes?

Announcing: New adult fiction

Now, there is new adult fiction. Indeed, Jill Hagen, my protagonist, is 23. She is just finished with college (Berkeley!), has a new job (teaching!) and is trying to find her way in the world when it comes to love. But she is a bit of a shy one. She’s not sexing it up around town.

I know, I know, new adult isn’t “young adult with sexy times,” although that is how a friend described it to me. It’s a diverse genre. And, it’s where I’m going to categorize my book. I think.

Dear Readers, I hope I can turn to you to help me figure out if that’s the right box to check.

2 thoughts on “Is it new adult fiction? Figuring out what box to check

  1. Hi Lauren, and thanks for linking my post. I think the overriding characteristic of New Adult is the MC experiences internal and external conflict about discovering who they are at a time when they can no longer use the excuse, “well, I’m just a kids.”
    Congrats and can’t wait to read you book.

    • Hi Sydney,

      Thanks for your note! I like the way you define new adult fiction in terms of it being about internal and external conflict and figuring out who you are during a transitional time. That feels like a fit.

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