Is a person an adult at 18? Recently UK psychologists say No! So the questions is, is this the basis for The New Adult Fiction Genre.
With adolescence now ending at 25 to prevent young people getting an inferiority complex what should be included in a New Adult novel?
The BBC report claims that during adolescence, the way everyday situations and data is processed changes significantly from when a person is a child, to when they reach middle age.
Why does an author of Young Adult and New Adult fiction bring this up? Simple. The elements of a New Adult novel fit certain criteria in the research and article by child psychologist Laverne Antrobus from London’s Tavistock Clinic who told the BBC “We are becoming much more aware and appreciating development beyond [the age of 18] and I think it’s a really good initiative.”
Adolescence no longer ends when people hit 18, according to updated guidelines being given to child psychologists. The new directive is designed to extend the age range that child psychologists can work with from 18 years old up to 25.
It is hoped the initiative will stop children being ‘rushed’ through their childhood and feeling pressured to achieve key milestones quickly, reports the BBC.
There are now three stages of adolescence, according to the BBC report: early adolescence that ranges from 12 to 14 years, middle adolescence from 15 to 17 years and 18 and over is classed as late adolescence.
Authors have long held that give or take couple of years to allow for differences in upbringing mid-grade usually ends around 14 years old, young adult is in the 14 to 18 years and the new adult genre is in the 18 to 25 year old group.
It has been introduced because research now suggests the brain continues developing through and passed teenage years, well into a person’s mid-twenties and thirties.
The new guidance is also to ensure that over 18s don’t miss out on opportunities, or are forgotten about, in terms of health and education. New scanning technology has made it possible for psychologists and other doctors to track how the brain changes and processes information. It adds that as the brain ‘reorganizes itself’, people start to see and think about things differently and the brain becomes more like an adult brain. Could this be one reason why in a well written new adult story the character arcs tend to be more pronounced?
In our first New Adult Romance, Life’s What Happens the characters are forced to take bigger arc than you would see in people in their late twenties for example. This background about being a passive adult will be built into our upcoming New Adult series Scandals, book #1, Baby Daddy.
Passive Adult? Nice term for book club chatter but an author may need a more specific guide when writing a new adult book. These criteria make a good list to follow and I explain them in terms of my first New Adult Romance, LIFE’S WHAT HAPPENS. On Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/LIFES-WHAT-HAPPENS-ebook/dp/B00A14STPS/.
- College life – Life’s What Happens is told in flashback and the flashback is 100% the senior year for nine fraternity brothers and their friends. It’s all college all the time.
- Moving out of your parents’ house and living alone for the first time – Most of the characters in the Life’s What Happens story live on campus or in town and not at home and all for the first time. What’s interesting is the character arc of those that maintain a weekend tie to their families and those that are immersed into the on-campus life.
- First jobs – By senior year they have studied and majored in the classes necessary for their first real job as an adult. This criteria is part of the angst that some of the characters go through. What happens if you’re not allowed to start your career? What will you do about it?
- Deciding who you want to be, career-wise, and in general. Identity issues. Existential issues. – By senior year they have made these decisions and are actively trying to make their decisions come true.
- First serious relationships, finding love – Anyone who has gone through college knows that it was very rare that anyone retained any opposite sex relationships by the time they reached their senior year. In Life’s What Happens one of the nine fraternity brothers set out in their senior year to accomplish this.
- Sex – It’s less important that it be a “first time” as it is in YA. But the character should still be figuring stuff out. Since our readers can watch R rated movies, we can also be a little more explicit here without as much controversy. – Because this is all about New Adults in 1969 and 1970 and despite the publicity or history of the sex in the sixties, sex then was different than sex in the 21st century especially compared to the beliefs and actions of the millennial generation, the target market to a degree of the New Adult genre.
- Experimentation – Sex, drugs, alcohol. Of course, not all new adults engage in experimentation, but the phrase, “I experimented with “x” in college,” is a phrase for a reason. – Drugs were relatively segregated to some of the class of 1970 but wine, beer and hard liquor were center stage. Even states were confused back then with the application of blue laws and 3.2 beer. Fake IDs were a cottage industry for one purpose and that wasn’t to outsmart and outwit the TSA.
- Isolation – Living alone for the first time can be difficult – Most of the characters in Life’s What Happens lived in the fraternity house where living there was more difficult to living alone.
- Single life – New adults often do not have life partners and families yet, so their main relationships may be with friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. – Many stories centered around the characters living their life with their brothers and girlfriends on campus and no longer at home with family.
- A struggle to “find yourself” – This was the mantra of the 1960’s. No further comment needed. Yes there is actually. The major plot point in the book is what happens when everyone finally is on the path to finding themselves when national circumstances totally blocks the path.
- Change – Moving out, going to college, finding a job…it’s a lot of transition. – Triple check and then add the draft road block thrown at them with a last minute Thanksgiving Eve congressional vote. You never can say enough about Nixon.
- Money challenges – Goes without saying. In some cases in the story a temporary shortage of money and the decisions made can lead to a life time change in goals.