08 April 2016

Gay Young Adult Romance Something or Other

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

Well, I could have always come out of the closet. That certainly would have made for an interesting day. 

I've always had a hard time figuring out exactly what type of book UL is. It always seems to be everything it's not. Because it's young adult, but it's not. And it's kind of a romance, but it's not. And it's also gay fiction, but not. I kinda want to pitch it as literary fiction, but I feel it has all these elements that may turn off some readers who are looking for something more straightforward.

One thing I've already decided is to not try to sell this book as young adult. Yes, it's from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old. And no, it's not from some future perspective. It sounds like a fifteen-year-old's voice. But there are some pretty adult moments throughout the book. I think the only part that really completely reads young adult is the subplot concerning Jordan's friends. I also wouldn't really want young people to read it. While an adult book written from a young adult perspective may be a tough sell, I think it's the right decision for this particular book.

Then there's the romance aspect. I've always called it a "demented" romance. There's the age difference between the characters, of course. Their relationship definitely isn't straightforward by any means. And your typical romance novel usually has a happy ending. While the end of UL certainly isn't some epic tragedy, it's definitely not happy, either. So while there are some romantic elements in the book, it definitely doesn't follow your typical romance novel structure.

I think out of all the things that it's not, the label that fits the most is gay fiction. My characters are gay, after all. But I've always thought that it's an important aspect to the characters, but not the story itself. I could switch out the genders and sexuality and still have basically the same story. Obviously some details would change and the dynamic between the characters would be different, but the same basic plot line would still be there. I wouldn't change it of course, because I've been with these characters for so long that changing them to something completely different would just feel wrong.

So does the story need that label? I think it probably does. If someone had no interest in reading a story with gay characters, no matter what it was about, they would probably want that label there so they would know not to read it. Same goes for the opposite--someone who wants to read about those characters. They want to be able to find those books more easily. But is that all I get to call it? What other label fits my book? Contemporary? Something else entirely? Or do I just call it gay fiction and call it a day? If I knew I wouldn't ask so many questions. But I guess I should worry about finishing it first.

Where does my book fit in? Have you ever written a book you couldn't figure out a label for?


  1. I think it will have to fall into that category.
    I knew what I wrote was science fiction, I just didn't know there were so many sub categories.

  2. There's a novel called Tough Girl by Libby Heily that's about a young girl, but isn't for kids. And there are others, too. So they do exist, and can be sold.

    I have a story that has sort of defied categorization thus far. All I know about it is that it's an unhappy love story, and maybe that's enough. But it's unfinished, so maybe a category will reveal itself as I get closer to that 'done' mark.

    Perhaps the same will be true for your story, too.

  3. I always worry about putting my story in the YA category even though my main character is 17. I guess because it's slightly dark and bloody at times, and she's not the typical teenager.

  4. I think it falls into contemporary. When I see that I know not to expect any fake creatures, but something more set in the real world with real world problems. I'd go with contemporary gay since that will tell people that it's an LGBT story too.

    There's been adult books writing from the POV of a younger character, so I wouldn't worry too much about that aspect.

  5. I see your conundrum but I think you need to figure it out. It's tough to pitch if you can't put it into some kind of category.

    Susan Says

  6. I'm working on a story about a bromance between one straight and one bi character. The whole story reads like a building romance, but the bi character simply has to accept, over the course of the narrative, that it's never going where he wants. But it still feels like a love story, even if the romance is one-sided.
    There's some action and adventure, so I could call it action/adventure, but it's really centered around this relationship, and has tons of just sitting-there-talking type scenes, so that might be misleading.
    I, too, am tempted to call it literary fiction, but then the pirates and magic might weird people out. But if I called it fantasy, readers would expect the fantastic elements to be more plot-relevant, instead of incidental.

    In short, yeah, I agree, labels are hard and weird. >_>

  7. Oh, also, New Adult is a new genre, for things that read like Y/A but are pitched for a slightly older audience. It's come into being because of all the people who grew up reading Y/A and like the style and feeling, but want older content now. Something to think about for yours!