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  1. #1
    Ryan Bruner
    Guest

    "Dumbing down" a YA story

    I'm working on, for the time being, a YA book, putting my first WIP on hold for the moment.

    While the story is definitely geared for the YA market, I find myself writing with vocabulary that COULD be a bit heavy. I'm looking at a tweens and teens age group, primarily. Anyhow, the question becomes about "dumbing" down the language. Should it be done?

    Here is a sample excerpt. I don't THINK it is too difficult, but wanted a second opinion. (Forgive anything truly "wrong", it is a first draft.)

    Johnny paced the length of the station, flashing the paper in front of each person sitting or standing. Most just shook their heads, while the rest shrugged, indifferently. As another bus pulled in, he accosted each person who stepped off with the photos, ending up with the same fruitless result. Sam checked the time and compared it to the bus schedule. The next bus should arrive in three minutes, at 11:30. After that, Sam would just leave a flyer with the ticket man and head to the train station.



  2. #2
    Nancy Brandeis
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    Same answer applies here:

    The worst advice ever!!!
    Author: Nancy Brandeis (---.proxy.aol.com)
    Date: 04-21-04 11:35

    Agents and editors are your primary target audience in these stages, and then children. With the amount of YA books out there competing, I would suggest you seek the approval of these folks, first. While fluffy is correct that your eventual audience will be the children, it will never reach them if you do not engage the agents/editors first.

  3. #3
    Rich L.
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    It does seem a bit heavy, but really not too bad (accosted, for instance). I should say though that I write in an entirely different genre, so I'm no expert on YA. So my humble advice?: Find a few new YA novels you like and compare how they model their sentnce structure. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Ryan Bruner
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    Rich:

    THe problem is, I write an entirely different genre (sort of) too. This particularly story, however, is definitely of YA flavor. My other WIP is a science fiction story for a more adult audience (though, not that children couldn't read it). The excerpt from the story up above is actually from the YA story, which would classify under YA Fantasy.

  5. #5
    Lynn
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    Ryan

    I think the excerpt is fine. Don't dumb it down. I suppose the only thing you need to think about is whose POV is this? If it is a teenager's then they wouldn't use the word 'accost'. Otherwise, I don't see a problem with it.

  6. #6
    flossytheflute
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    I would just pull out the old thesauras and find easier alternatives to words like accosted.

    I am also writing a book geared for that age group, well a little younger and I find that sometimes the first word that comes to mind may not be the most appropriate. Vocabulary changes should not affect the plot or tone of the story.

    Just remember that tons of adults read the Harry Potter books, they found them interesting yet the language was not above the level of the target audience-kids.

    FlossY

  7. #7
    Ryan Bruner
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    I also wondered, as it relates to this topic, if one manages to intrigue the reader enough with a story, that leaving a broader vocab would be beneficial to the reader in that it stretches them. They are adequately enthralled with the story to not mind a word here or there they are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. In fact, isn't that many of us end up expanding our own vocabularies...by reading something that uses new language in a context that helps you understand and define that word?

    Of course, I'm speaking hypothetically here, since I couldn't yet say whether my story is enthralling enough for that. :-) I'm having a lot of fun writing it, though. I mean, after only a few days, I'm already up to 5,000+ words, and I hate it when I have to stop working on it.

  8. #8
    Rich L.
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    In an ideal world, you'd be absolutely correct. I think though if you look at what the average YA is reading, you'll find they have very little tolerance for words that "expand their vocabularies". On a brighter note-- if you write sci-fi/fantasy you have much greater range. For the most part these readers expect to be challanged.

  9. #9
    flossytheflute
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    Absolutey, introducing a word here and there is great for rreaders as long as the vocabulary doesn't bog down the young readers. Just be careful to maintain the integrity of the story regardless of the words you use.

    Flossy

  10. #10
    Ryan Bruner
    Guest

    Re: "Dumbing down" a YA story

    Herein lies the problem...I don't know when I'm using language that is too much. I mean, to me, I am using quite natural language. But, I have some friends who tell me that I use words they don't understand a lot. (Granted, these are friends without a college degree, and didn't do well in high school...but, nonetheless...)

    I suppose I will need to eventually find some YA readers to give me their opinion. :-)

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