Friday, October 12, 2012

Adventure VS Drama, Stepping to the Stake


Another blog sparked by a discussion with the Bosun…
 
I think adventure is wasted on the young. They have no appreciation for it. The nuance of adventure is lost in the need/desire to add drama to every situation.

I’m not a fan of YA and how it has been so incredibly embraced by adult readers.

*ducking thrown bottles, daggers and refuse

Hear me out! I know I’m dancing the dagger’s edge of heresy with saying this, but really! I’m gonna leap into the precipice and invite some Friday controversy…

YA is a mediocre way for adults to indulge in fantasy without actually reading the BIG books.

Yeah, I know most of the YA stuff is big as far as word count is concerned. And they deal with big issues and growing up is the biggest issue of all and…

But…I can’t see it. I just can’t.

Maybe I’m a snob. It happens…we all have the lines we draw in the sand. For some it’s Michael Keaton playing Batman, or Fonzie jumping over a shark on Happy Days. For me, it’s the rush to embrace the YA stuff.

I mean, I’ve written some younger characters, not just my beloved active silvertons. The Pirate Circus has two kids in it! One a real kid and one a young adult who faces a massive change by the end of the book. So, I’m not a coward when it comes to writing kids. In my neverending pirate series, I have several younger characters…

But honestly, people! With so many fabulous books of adventure and growth out there, why only read the burgeoning adulthood ones? I don’t get it… I remember that time of my life without a whole lot of excitement. Hormones, social pressures, body issues… Nothing I don’t deal with right now! But it was all full of so much drama then…as YA is now.

Something that comes with age, perhaps, is the refusal to indulge in drama. The challenges thrown at us might be exciting, they might be exhausting or exhilarating…but full of drama? Not so much. I’m glad to leave drama behind…

So why would I want to read it in a YA book? Give me escapism and a chance to be an adult hero in my imagination… The thought of stepping into the head of a YA girl, even if she does have a real cool bow in her hand, is… *shudder!

Drama…eck! Adventure? Bring it on!

I’m ready, throw the rocks…I am likely a YA snob. But indulge me…do I have a point? Is there a difference between drama and adventure in your mind? What book titles come to mind if you consider the difference? Or movies?

43 comments:

Maureen said...

I'm gonna get crucified, aren't I...

Melly O said...

I'm guilty of indulging in the latest YA series that seems omnipresent regardless your age.
I tend to stay away from them, but my curiosity got the better of me (and my father in law had the whole series, just waiting for me).
I think part of the appeal comes from a narrative that asks me to think less, as it spells out more. I'm not always willing to dive into a 'grown up' novel when I'm tired and just want to be entertained.
This isn't to say the series I speak of didn't challenge me to think. It did. It was also willing to lay it out a bit more obviously than my other options.
As far as the drama- count me out! I read the first Twilight book and became ever so grateful that I'm no longer a teenager. Ugh.

Maureen said...

Oh, thanks Melly O! I expect to be thrown off the ship for the course I'm sailing... Nice to know I won't be alone out on that deep blue sea...

The last YA novel I indulged in was probably more meant for younger than the YA crowd. But what's not to love about a girl pretending to be a boy and ending up as a pirate?

Yup, that's about my level of drama...

Maureen said...

BTW, before the morning madness begins. Let me say right off the bat, that the Bosun is in no way to blame for this topic. It's all mine.

Marnee Bailey said...

I'll be the first to take aim at two assumptions here. (You were waiting for it, weren't you? LOL!)

First, I don't think that YA has cornered the market on adventures. I think using adventure as a plot device to character growth isn't isolated to YA as you have pointed out. But, I think the assumption among most people (kids and adults) is that opportunities and the desire for big adventures decreases as you get older. I don't think that older folks are boring, just that lots of things work as we grow to soften the edges of us. Responsibilities, maturity, healthy learned caution, etc.

And second, I don't think that every YA is filled with drama. I think there's drama in all fiction. Perhaps the younger characters have more intense reactions, but in good YAs, I would say that it's consistent to character, as in good adult fiction.

I think setting characters at that age, though, is ideal to explore character growth. Adolescence and late adolescence is the time when (most) people move from being dependent to being independent. As independence is such a desirable character trait in our society, attaining it makes for satisfying fiction HEAs. I don't think that's isolated to YA, just that it's another setting/character option available for writers to explore it.

And, I'll venture to say that you might be missing out. There are some very talented writers writing in YA right now.

TerriOsburn said...

You would never stand for anyone pigeon-holing your genre (if you had one clear one *g*) with a statement that started "All XX books are this." Why would you do that to another genre? And why would you do that to other authors working their asses off to write good stories.

The value of a book has nothing to do with how old the characters are. And I'm sorry but I don't care if you're writing sci-fi, chick lit, YA, or RomCom, there better be drama. How the characters react to that drama will vary, but the drama better be there.

If you don't want to read YA, then don't read it. I haven't picked any up but I know my daughter and Hellie enjoy many of the same books. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't read paranormal because it's not my thing. I don't feel like reading over the top sexy books anymore. Just not floating my boat at the minute.

But I'd never made some giant judgment about those who chose to read those books. To each their own, and you should know that better than anyone.

P. Kirby said...

Dear Author had a pretty good post about this that sums up why I read YA.
http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/why-i-read-ya/

Anyway, I get why you don't read YA. It's not your thing. Just like westerns don't blow my skirt up (I know real cowboys; don't find 'em sexy) and typically, I avoid plots centered around sports.

Since this is a "romance" blog, I'll address the lovey-dovey reason why YA works for me. First, because YA often isn't as tied into tidy genre categories or its requirements, there's often a much better balance of romantic to non-romantic plotline. I.e., I get a wee bit bored with nothing but the lurve.

Second, as an old married person, I can get Teh Seks, anytime. What I can't get, ever again, is the whole giddy excitement of falling in love. That ships done sailed. I adore sexual tension, but not the overt, "OMG, I wanna grab his ass and f*ck him silly," approach taken in some adult romances/literature.

YA often takes a subtler approach, focusing on the little stuff. The yummy moments when one character watches the other do something very mundane and you can just feel them falling in love. It's not, "OMG, his ass is fine," but rather, "I love the shape of his hands and the way they move as he brushes the horse's coat."

I admit, I like the "drama" that comes with the uncertainty of young (or for that matter, new at any age) love: "Does she like me? Is he interested?" I'd rather the lovers didn't take one look at each other and immediately start mentally undressing each other.

Some adult stories do sexual tension right. Actually, even though the protagonists boink like bunnies throughout most of the book, I think Diana Gabaldon did a great job expressing the subtleties of falling in love in Outlander. There are loads of moments where Claire is watching Jaimie do something utterly un-romantic, and it's somehow fraught with sexual tension.

But a lot of adult stories, especially (sorry) romance, lean too hard on sexy and sex*, and frankly, bore me.

I'd agree with Marnee on one point. There are some fabulous YA authors out there and you might be missing out.

Of course, because of my "no cowboys" and "no sports" requirement, I probably am too.

You read what works for you. *Shrugs. grins*

*I like a hot love scene, but, usually, I want it postponed as long as possible.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

HELL YES! *raises my tankard* I'm right there with you!

I don't want to go back to my teen years - did them once and don't want to do them again. I'm looking for a story that takes me somewhere I haven't been before!

I did love the Harry Potter movies and technically that is YA, but I've never read the books. Not sure I'm going to either.


MsHellion said...

I don't think that every YA is filled with drama. I think there's drama in all fiction. Perhaps the younger characters have more intense reactions, but in good YAs, I would say that it's consistent to character, as in good adult fiction.

I think setting characters at that age, though, is ideal to explore character growth. Adolescence and late adolescence is the time when (most) people move from being dependent to being independent. As independence is such a desirable character trait in our society, attaining it makes for satisfying fiction HEAs. I don't think that's isolated to YA, just that it's another setting/character option available for writers to explore it.

And, I'll venture to say that you might be missing out. There are some very talented writers writing in YA right now.


Ditto.

You would never stand for anyone pigeon-holing your genre (if you had one clear one *g*) with a statement that started "All XX books are this." Why would you do that to another genre? And why would you do that to other authors working their asses off to write good stories.

I always love it when the Vice President shows up for the debate. Get her! *LOL*

Since this is a "romance" blog, I'll address the lovey-dovey reason why YA works for me. First, because YA often isn't as tied into tidy genre categories or its requirements, there's often a much better balance of romantic to non-romantic plotline. I.e., I get a wee bit bored with nothing but the lurve.

Second, as an old married person, I can get Teh Seks, anytime. What I can't get, ever again, is the whole giddy excitement of falling in love. That ships done sailed. I adore sexual tension, but not the overt, "OMG, I wanna grab his ass and f*ck him silly," approach taken in some adult romances/literature.

YA often takes a subtler approach, focusing on the little stuff. The yummy moments when one character watches the other do something very mundane and you can just feel them falling in love. It's not, "OMG, his ass is fine," but rather, "I love the shape of his hands and the way they move as he brushes the horse's coat."


Exactly my reason for reading it.

I did love the Harry Potter movies and technically that is YA, but I've never read the books. Not sure I'm going to either.

The books are better though I agree where HP is concerned that does deal with "growing up" quite a bit and a lot of the angst that YA gets stereotyped as.

As for me, read what you want. Telling me that I have a mediocre mind or whatever you were calling mediocre isn't going to make me read your boring ass Tolkien crap. This discussion is a bit like the presidential debates. We already know who we're voting for and why--and no debate will change our minds.

TerriOsburn said...

Thank you, Pat. You just made my day. I think you might like my book. LOL!

Maureen said...

Marn - I hope to hell that YA hasn't cornered the market on adventure! I'd be truly screwed if that were true! I do think that what is considered an adventure changes as we mature.

Maturity knows that adventures aren't always filled with drama, or melodrama. And maturity certainly isn't restricted to an age. I know sixty year olds who lack maturity!

I will totally agree with you, I am likely missing out on good authors with good writing. I don't totally understand my own resistence, but I suppose it's just a matter of what appeals...

I swear, I get a sour taste in my mouth as YA bursts free of it's place. As I said, I am very aware I hold a prejudice that isn't rational. It's just instinctual! And that's hard to overcome...

P. Kirby said...

Thank you, Pat. You just made my day. I think you might like my book. LOL!

I'm looking forward to reading it!

Maureen said...

*hangs head low

Yes, Terrio, you're right. I certainly don't mean to paint an entire genre with one color. And there are a lot of intriguing plot devices I read of with YA. Kudos to them for going there.

Perhaps the fault doesn't lie squarely on the audience but on me. And my not getting it.

I suppose it's a sort of frustration which is no doubt shared by writers of erotica who are watching 50 Shades walk off with the market that they thought was theirs... Not necessarily unhappy that the book is selling, but wondering what the heck is wrong with the audience that they aren't buying the 'good' stuff....

Now, put the rocks down! I'm not saying YA isn't good!

It's like when I worked in the metaphysical bookstore and watched the trends of where people went for guidance...constantly changing. What the hell, if it worked for them, it worked for them! And if it took going from one 'answer' to another, then why not? Who was I to say?

Now I'm an author and it's hard not to have a say in something I have a stake in.

I'm simply admitting, I don't get it.

Not trying to paint all YA readers as the same, or the genre, but even considering the angst at the center of so many YA books literally gives me heartburn.

I'd love to never find that sort of drama/angst in my life again.

Maureen said...

Pat - I was thinking about the whole sex thing the other night. I think I fall somewhere in the middle with the boinking and the idea of making love.

I hope, and from what I hear, it seems that YA is focused on falling in love. Not lust. Adult romance is certainly guity of going for the lust first, then the love. (Perhaps because adults know that love comes and goes, but if you're hot for each other, you can get past the ebb tide.) Not that lust should be the cornerstone of any relationship...but it better be there in spades!

I sometimes think lust is wasted on the young.

*ducks thrown rock

But I hear ya!

I guess it's the balance that I feel is missing. The rush to write/read YA is too far from my center and it just makes me shake my head...

I know one YA author who was describing her plot to me and I nodded... "Okay, it's a faery version of the Hatfields and McCoys." Her blank face said it all... I thought, 'how can you write a standard without knowing the roots?'

I'm gonna leave that there, while I consider what I'm trying to state...

Maureen said...

Sabrina, shhhhh! I'm doing okay ducking the bottles but be careful!

I don't think I stated my premis with much elegance, but I was drinking...

Haleigh said...

count me as one who generally does not read YA, mostly because my high-school experience was hellish enough on it's own, and I need no reminders. But that has nothing to do with the quality of YA writing, or even the content of probably half the YA books out there.

I've been exposed to some very well-written YA books, and some poorly written YA books. I do have a feeling (and may be 100% wrong) that the YA market is so saturated at this point that the exceptional ones get buried under the mediocre ones (which I feel is equally true for the mega-genre of romance).

And I also think that the YA domination at the moment is a trend, and like all trends, will have its ebbs and flows.

Haleigh said...

I don't think I stated my premis with much elegance, but I was drinking...

Hell, woman, we're on a pirate ship. Drunken inelegance should be our new motto.

TerriOsburn said...

I don't know the statistics, but I'd also venture to say the boom in YA is due to the boom in teens reading. Which is awesome. HP did a lot to get kids reading again and the adventure and larger-than-life stories continue to feed that love even more. Kiddo still has friends who won't pick up a book of any kind, but others who can't get enough, just like her.

Maureen said...

I knew where ya stood when I began Hellion. And I tried to choose my words with care...

If the drama of reaching maturity is one of the compelling elements of YA, as stated so eloquantly by Pat... Along with the step by step parts of sexual tension... I can get that by reading the Bosun's books, without the sweaty palms and squeaky voices of adolescence.

I mean, maturity is a constant thing we strive for, no matter our age.

But maybe I should shut up now before I talk myself right off the gangplank...

Maureen said...

Hal, I certainly hope so... Perhaps I'm reacting to the flood and the trend I see of jumping on the trend!

I've never been much for trends...

TerriOsburn said...

Did you just call my characters immature??

Maureen said...

Terrio, I totally embrace whatever makes the young adult read. I stood in bookstores and told parents to get a grip, quit trying to hand their kids Great Expectations...if reading Sweet Valley High got them reading, just shut up and buy them the books.

And I applaud the trend moving beyond SVH and to bigger books with more universal messages and themes. And bigger words and more complexity. And bless the YA that dives into issues of sexual identity, prejudice and bullying.

It's the adults reading it to the exclusion of all else where I shake my head...and I hope, pray, that the same young adults that are devouring the books will continue to read as life grows more complex and distracting.

Janga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

We're all immature! At one level or the other... Sid and Lucas act immature, but they are dealing with a mature situation. Just as Emily and Alan do the occassional "did not!" / "did to!" thing.

Where's my rum keg? My tankard is empty...

TerriOsburn said...

Where would anyone get the idea there are adults reading YA and nothing else??

Go, Janga!!!

Janga said...

I never liked being told books were "too old" for me when I was a child, and I don't like being told that YA books are too young for me now that I'm "mature." I've read all the Harry Potter books multiple times and Tammara Webber has two titles on my top 25 of 2012 list now. I've always read YA,long before the current trend, and I expect to still be reading it when I'm in my rocking chair at the local nursing home.

I read for characters and story value and the beauty of the prose, and YA authors have given me some of the best in all these categories. Plus, as Pat pointed out, YA authors are often less bound by the rules and more willing to push the barriers than are other writers of genre fiction. I read literary fiction, women's fiction, mystery, romance, YA, children's books, poetry, history, biography, and anything else that stirs my curiosity or captures my imagination. I read romance when I was an academic, and I read literary fiction now that I'm immersed in the romance fiction community. To use one of your favorite quotes, Maureen, "I am large. I contain multitudes."

And to add one of my favorite quotes, "The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been"-- Madeleine L'Engle. I celebrate all that I am by reading what I enjoy, regardless of the labels anyone else attaches. And I believe I have the credentials to support my contention that there is nothing mediocre about my mind.

Maureen said...

Janga - I knew that word would bite me in the butt...but late at night, searching for what I wanted to say...I chose an awkward word.

What I love about your comment? You read it all, nothing is excluded. You don't elevate only one genre worth reading.

I read a lot of stuff and perhaps what my over-reaction is all about is more the 'born again' readers who embrace with fever the 'this is the greatest thing since sliced bread!' approach. It brings out the 'oh, yeah?' cynic in me.

Haleigh said...

Mo, I most definitely understand watching everyone under the sun jump on a trend and desperately wanting to avoid doing the same. It's the same reason I'm avoiding 50 Shades like the plague and have an urge to knock over the display case everywhere I see it. It may be a perfectly fine book. I have no idea, and I have no care to find out, fair or not.

Haleigh said...

I read literary fiction, women's fiction, mystery, romance, YA, children's books, poetry, history, biography, and anything else that stirs my curiosity or captures my imagination.

Beautifully put, Janga!

MsHellion said...

Well, Mo, you could have used the word "vanilla" instead of "mediocre" but I think you would have been dashed on the rocks for that one too. Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream, and usually with good reason. It's not wrong to have an old standby as something that would be a "comfortable, wonderful" read.

You say you want to "entertain" people rather than "teach" them (aka like "literature" would do), but you just trashed the 95% of fiction that does entertain us as being "common" (another word for mediocre). If there is nothing wrong with being entertained for entertainment's sake, then why was it necessary to "well except for YA, which I think is immature and stupid"--which by the way makes readers stop and go, "Did she just say I was immature and stupid?"

I don't like Walt Whitman or those 10 inch thick fantasy novels that go on for 20 books and mostly describe boy relationships and the kind of rock located in this "made-up world that looks like earth but none of the names are the same so we can be different". It's not my cup of tea. But they're compelling to someone. And if you want to appeal to those audiences, then you need to read them and figure out what is the universal compelling reason why they're so "readable"? Only then can you apply it to your writing. You will have to change YOUR writing to get more readers, not bully readers into reading more "high-brow" entertainment.

Maureen said...

I certainly meant no attack on those who read or those who write YA. This wasn't about getting personal...it was a bemusement at trying to understand the attraction.

I felt Melly got what I was saying when she wrote... I think part of the appeal comes from a narrative that asks me to think less, as it spells out more. I'm not always willing to dive into a 'grown up' novel when I'm tired and just want to be entertained.
This isn't to say the series I speak of didn't challenge me to think. It did. It was also willing to lay it out a bit more obviously than my other options.


Hellion, I don't read the massive multi-volume fantasy tomes much anymore, either. I remember when I did. I seldom have the patience for them at this point in my life.

So, don't pigeon hole me, either!

I'm not calling anyone immature or stupid.

TerriOsburn said...

We need Like buttons. I need to Like Hellie's comment.

For the record, I spend a lot of time in the YA section with kiddo. Almost never see another adult in that aisle.

Maureen said...

Hal - It's a fine line between trends and fanatacism. I tend to run away from anything that borders on fanatacism.

Is that a word? Well, you know what I mean...the frantic, wide eyed belief that there is only one anything worth anything. And that whatever that anything does is the FIRST TIME IT'S EVER BEEN DONE!

No, it's not. Whatever first time being refered to was lost in history...

Maureen said...

Et tu, Terrio?

No one is stupid or immature. Ever.

I'm going to go set myself on fire.

P. Kirby said...

Actually, I don't know a lot of adults who read YA to the exclusion of everything else. Most of the adults in my life don't read YA at all.

My Goodreads profile is pretty diverse (though slanted heavily towards fiction with F/SF/H elements).

I confess, I don't understand any reader who reads just one genre, be it YA, or mystery or romance.

But...if that's what floats your boat...why not?

Maureen said...

I wonder sometimes if the actual young adults out there are at all uncomfortable with the idea of Mom reading their books...

Just wondering...

TerriOsburn said...

We're not putting any words in your blog you didn't put there yourself. And I doubt kiddo would care if I read her books. She'd be ecstatic that we could talk about them. I always as for a run down of what's going on so I get a sort of cliff notes version without reading.

quantum said...

Maureen, when I make a gaff in a physics seminar and get hammered, I usually resort to drawing a few Feynman Diagrams with associated Functional Integrals. That confuses everyone and the audience starts to harangue one another, letting me of the hook.

I will show you how to draw them sometime! *wink* LOL

Maureen said...

I never used the word stupid. I wish I'd used a better word than mediocre.

Q - How does one draw a Feynman Diagram?

Look! A squirrel!

P. Kirby said...

Addressing your original question:

Is there a difference between drama and adventure in your mind?

Uh, no, because all good fiction has drama. My question to you, might be define "drama" and "adventure?" :)

What book titles come to mind if you consider the difference? Or movies?

Anyway, my current favorite webcomic is populated largely by young adults and adolescents. I can't recommend it enough. Fabulous dialogue; action; adventure; awesome art. And if you're teen angst aversive, not much of that, at all.

Unsounded (It's got an attack zombie!)
http://unsoundedcomic.com/

*Wanders off to work on angsty fan fic story*

Marnee Bailey said...

Hell, woman, we're on a pirate ship. Drunken inelegance should be our new motto.

I love this. Huzzah to drunken inelegance!!!

I'm going to read the rest of the updates now....

Maureen said...

In a very general fashion, I find drama to be very individualized. Often internal.

Adventure comes from an outside source or need, and involves more than the person at the center.

Drama is Downton Abbey.
Adventure is Sherlock Holmes.
Melodrama is Revenge.
Action is Die Hard.

Maureen said...

And it could be my level of unease is more about melodrama... I'm feeling my way around this stuff...

Is that a squirrel I see?