Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Can't They?

A lot of my blog posts revolve around random discussions I happen to find on various writing boards and what not. This discussion revolved around teen fiction versus adult fiction (silly, discussion, in my opinion), and a lot of people said they enjoyed adult fiction more because you can write about a broad range of experiences that you can't with teen fiction. My only answer to this is why? Sure, I'd find it hard to read a novel about a teen doctor (there are teen geniuses, but I don't think the average teen wants to read about those, because teen geniuses can be perceived as arrogant), or even a teen lawyer. But as far as emotional possibilities, there are just as many emotional possibilities, if not more, for teens as there are for adults.

People seem to forget that there are teens in the world who have experienced more than some adults will ever experience, and have seen more of the world than some adults ever will. Just because they're young doesn't mean they lack experience. Experience can be gained through age, but if you're forty years old and have never moved from where you were born and haven't really traveled, then I'm not going to trust you as a voice of authority on life experience. I'm going to trust the sixteen-year-old army brat who has moved around with his or her parents and has visited exotic places, like Italy, Africa, or Japan.

Continuing on, someone replied that it's ridiculous to write a story about a teen who goes to war and makes enemies. Said person also used an example that adult fiction is more complex because a 40 year old can get arthritis while loading a gun (a teen can have an epileptic attack while loading a gun. *gasp!* Teens and epilepsy? That's preposterous!). In any case, why can't a teen go to war over the summer and make enemies, especially if it's a fantasy novel, an alternate universe of sorts, that requires teens to join the military once they turn sixteen? It's very possible. Hundreds of years ago, that would have been the case with teen males.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is an excellent example of some of the things teens are capable of. The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen in a place called Panem where, to show the power of the Capitol, names are drawn from different districts, and these children are forced to fight in what are called The Hunger Games. They essentially fight to the death, and the last one standing wins. This is analogous to a war veteran. So, if Katniss Everdeen can win The Hunger Games (and I loved The Hunger Games because it seemed so real), then why can't Katniss go off and fight in a war? Granted, she's female, and there are problems with that, and yada, yada, yada, but why can't an author put her in that situation? Suzanne Collins is very realistic with Katniss' skills, and I never once found her a haughty character for all the things she can do that I can't, because her skills are portrayed realistically.

Teens are so much more than the ditsy, hormone-infested, love sick teens that some YA novels portray them as. Teens throughout history have been kings and queens, authors and poets, martyrs, fighters, parents, and a multitude of things adults are or have been.

So why can't YA fiction touch upon the broad range of emotional experiences that adult fiction touches upon?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Book's Success

[I'd like to make a note that I am not at all an expert on what sells a book or anything of the sorts. This is merely my opinion on a matter I've found troubling for quite a while. ]

We all know about the insanely popular series called Twilight that has sold millions. There are a lot of people out there who question why it's so popular, and then there are others who blame it on advertising, these said advertisers marketing to the "dumb" the "weak" the "beyond stupid."

I find this offensive, not because I'm a fan of Twilight, but because, although marketing helps get word of a book out there, I do not believe it fully helps the sales of a book. Advertising is an amazing tool to use to get the word of a book out there, since word of mouth can only take a product so far. That's all it does. It doesn't force people to buy books.

And you know what the great thing about books are? You can try them out before you buy them. You can read the entire thing in the bookstore if you want, the first five pages, the blurb, the plot summary, all while never having to pay for it. If you want the book after all that, you can choose to buy it. Of course, some people make the mistake of buying a book they find out they don't like, but I know for me that's rare. Most books I buy are books I end up loving because I know how to look through a book and see if it's something I know I'm going to enjoy.

With this in mind, why do people believe advertising contributed to the insane success of Twilight? Sure, without advertising, Twilight may not have sold as much as it did, but those same people who bought it and loved it could also be the same people who bought it and hated it. Advertising didn't tell them to love Twilight. The people who bought the book chose to love it.

Of course, I know there exist sheeple out there who love something just because it's popular, but for the most part, I think Twilight sold itself. There's something in it people love, and I hate it when elitists debate why it's so popular (negatively, mind you). People love it for their own reasons, and to whine about its popularity is just plain arrogant.

Do I wish some of the books that I love could be more popular than Twilight? Well, yes, but I think that's the case with anyone who loves a book he or she feels is underrated.