Hey, gang! I'm back in the saddle again here at the Alley, and I wanted to talk a little about what New Adult literature isn't--mostly because I hear a lot of people debating what it IS, and I feel like understanding what it's not is just as important. But first...

Camp New Adult, a month-long exploration of the basics of writing New Adult presented by the folks behind NA Lit Chat, is still going strong! We kicked off week 2 with #NALitChat over on the Twitters last Thursday night by getting several NA authors to share with us their brainstorming and story building tricks and tools. You can check out what they had to say, and what our Twitter chatters had to say, HERE

Also, if you're interested in trying your hand at NA story building, be sure to stop by our camp forum, take part in our weekly camp challenge, and mingle with the NA-crazy folks who hang out there. Bug repellent and hiking shoes are encouraged. :)

Week 3 of camp begins with this Thursday's chat (9 PM Eastern, as always). We'll focus on how to use writing tools--like Scrivener--to maximize our writing time. 

Would love to have you stop by and chat with us!

New Adult literature is NOT...

Warmed up YA.

Cooled down Adult.

All about college.

All about sex.

Just for females.

For kids.

Concerned with appearances.

Afraid of exploring controversial issues.




A genre.

Created entirely by self-published authors.



Full of idealized characters and themes.


Defined by the boundaries of youth OR adulthood.


About your parents.

About perfection.

Impossible to relate to.

Easy to ignore.

Going away.

That's just my personal list, and doesn't necessarily reflect the feelings of the Alley in general. But we'd definitely like to know: What would make your list of things NA isn't? Or maybe just tell us what you think it is. 

Sound off in the comments!

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  1. Nice post, EJ!
    I agree with your list. I especially love the genre bit :)

  2. Read through your list. Twice. A lot of the adjectives belong to any writing for any age group ... except maybe beginning readers who are learning to recognize words.

    "Simple" was the word that grabbed my notice the most. Sentence structure can be uncomplicated. Clauses may be infrequent. Adjective may not be piled on top of each other. But that doesn't mean the storyline has to be simplistic.

    1. Definitely thinking along the lines of 'theme', Kay, when I say NA isn't simple. Agree that a good story--in whatever category--will have layers. It will hold up to examination on many levels. I think I'm implying that in New Adult, that should be the standard for every story.

      The reasoning is this: the post-adolesence/New Adult period--in my opinion--is one of the most complex stages you'll go through in life. You can make a lot of simple decisions 18-26, like staying out and partying all night for example, but the consequences tend to be not-so-simple.

      If you miss your 8 AM midterm (or just fail it) because of the partying, it isn't just a fear of having your parents see an F on your report card anymore. You probably fail the class, which means you probably drop it, which means you might not meet the credit requirements for financial aid next semester, which means you might be working at McDonalds instead of pursuing the career in nursing you've dreamed about the last 3 years, which means... well, you get the idea! :D

      Every decision in a New Adult story could potentially carry this weight: It might be the first time you've made that decision in your adult life, and it will definitely be the first time you're dealing with the adult repercussions of that choice.

      Great comment! Appreciate you stopping by to check it out. :)

  3. [NA isn't] a wagon to jump onto in order to sell formulaic stories!

    Oops. Did I type that "out loud"? Kidding, kidding...

    Kind of. :D

    1. I hope you weren't kidding! LOL I may give this comment of the day, and the day is just getting going for me. :D

  4. Not going away.

    Love those three little words :-)

  5. Love your list. I also like that you say it's "not going away" as some folks think. I love reading NA.

  6. fascinating. especially as I struggle with how to "genre-ize" my new novel, Good Faith. I'm looking for NA experts to read it at a proof stage to decide. great post, gracias. I'm now a follower. (I bring craft beer so you'll like me)

    1. Yes, those who bring craft beer are more than welcome to hang out at the Alley... as long as they share. :)

      I think reading existing NA is a great way to see if the story you're working on might be well-suited for the category. In fact, we've got a handy catalogue of NA reads on this very website! (Shameless plug.) :)

      Welcome aboard, and thank you for stopping by to comment.


  7. Replies
    1. *drops mic and walks off stage* That's how I felt when I typed "Going Away" LOL

  8. I haven't read a lot of NA books, but the few I've read I have enjoyed. I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but the books provided an interesting look into the lives of people who were in transition in terms of what they wanted to do with their lives and how and why they made their decisions.

  9. From what I've read elsewhere new adult is about coming of age in terms of the characters and stuff. Would the new adult category also cover content that is for the more mature ya readers who aren't quite at the adult stage? I'm sorry if it sounds like a dumb question but I just discovered new adult, bad I want to make sure I completely understand it


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