WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION Launch Week, Day 2: Manipulating New Adult Characters

*Scroll down to enter today’s “Free First Chapter Critique” giveaway. Congratulations to yesterday’s winner, Kari Palm.

Yesterday I pointed out some social, emotional, and circumstantial traits of new adulthood. There are many great ways to manipulate your NA characters using those insights. Here are five:

  1. Force your new adult characters to reject or accept their childhoods. They’re no longer defined by their family’s circumstances or the fallout from parents’ decisions. They’ve got a clean slate—or so they think. Inside, they’re still lugging baggage, and that baggage needs to be handled. A variation of this has characters working through the scars of a tough teen experience, such as a physical attack.
  2. Make your protagonists question their self-reliance. They craved independence, but now that they have it, can they handle it? Perhaps threaten parental input—or yank it away if your young people use their parents as a crutch.
  3. Embrace the complications of forging a new social circle. In a way, your new adults are picking a new “family.” Don’t give them a cast of ideal choices.
  4. Make money an issue. Financial stress can be harsh, especially when you’re new to financial independence. “In YA the characters may be working at Starbucks for extra pocket money, whereas NA characters have to make money to survive, so the stresses on the characters are much greater. They can’t just blow it off.”—Agent Stacey Donaghy (quoted from Writing New Adult Fiction)
  5. Explore mental issues. Sadly, this is an age range in which many mental issues are triggered or come to fruition amid the stress. Mental and social issues are a part of our collective literary landscape, as themes and contributing to conflict and impacting both the internal and external journeys of characters. It’s an option, if not for your protagonist then for the people in her life who she may have to support with her newfound strengths and wisdoms.

All five of these manipulation strategies are, at their cores, about rocking your new adults’ stability. Remember, new adulthood is a time of change, with just about every element of their lives in some sort of transition. Good or bad, change is stressful, and stress leads to high emotions and conflict and bad decisions. Regardless of the genre you’re writing, if you wrap all that stress in your NA characters’ heightened emotions and then tie that up in a puffy bow of high expectations for an “ideal new adult experience,” you’re looking at a fiction gold mine. Mine it to the hilt!

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter today’s “Free 1st 20 Pages Critique” giveaway. NA, YA, Adult… any fiction WIP is okay. (And you’re still eligible for the Friday Full MS edit giveaway, too.) Good luck!

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  1. I’ve never thought about 5, even though I can think of so many examples when I remember my peers back then.

  2. Congratulations to Kari Palm for winning yesterday’s free critique of the first twenty pages of her manuscript. Kari, I’ll email you directly.

  3. Congrats to Kelly!

    You know, even as a middle-aged adult, changes are still stressful…LOL! So, I shouldn’t have too much trouble multiplying my stress by 3 to remember what it was like when I was 18-25. 🙂

  4. Thank you for this fantastic, concise breakdown of NA issues. As always, your insights are worth their weight in gold. Thank you!

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