Just what is MG and YA?

I’ve rediscovered an old love of mine lately, namely creative writing. I loved writing at school and spent hours as a child creating amazingly intricate and complicated tales both in my head and on paper; interweaving them with reality and fantasy. Unfortunately I kept nothing from those years, ruthlessly stripping keepsakes and belongings as I moved around, attempting to streamline life. I realise now as I approach 40 that while having a dearth of ‘stuff’ can be a blessing, there are some things that really are worth holding on to. But it has an advantage in that I’m starting with a clean palette – a born-again writer!

I’m currently over 50,000 words deep in a Young Adult (YA) fantasy novel with a mate. It began as a ‘can we do it’ project really. She lives in Guam so we see each other rarely and neither of us is particularly good at correspondence (though we’re lucky enough to have one of those friendships that just picks up where we left off, even if it was years ago). She’s spent the last two years researching, learning about and actually doing some writing. She’s been a great inspiration to me and to prove it, that ‘little project’ of writing a chapter then emailing it to the other (rinse & repeat) is over halfway to being an actual novel. Is it any good? Possibly, possibly not. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s set the wheels in motion and for that it will always be one of the best things I’ve ever written.

My next big project will be a novel incorporating my two great loves; children and the environment. It will be aimed at Middle Grade (MG) and will focus on two children on a quest to save the forests…set in a fantasy world. The idea is for it to be fun but also have a message. Next month, October 1st, is my start date & my aim is to write the entire rough draft in one month. A big ask as I’ll still be working on the YA project (and, oh yeah, that whole dissertation thing) but I’m pumped. I will do it!

Here’s a bit of information about YA/MG . It can be confusing working out audience levels, genres and book lengths. Luckily there are some great websites out there for help. This information was taken from:


Young Adult Fiction Categories and Age Ranges

The two categories of young adult literature — young adult (YA or “teen fiction”) and middle grade (“MG fiction”) — are split into several age ranges to help book buyers and readers judge the age-appropriateness of the content and the writing. The shift from tween to teen begins around age 12, and standard age ranges reflect that

Middle Grade (MG)

25,000 to 45,000 words

  • Ages 9 to 12
  • Older elementary into middle school, grades 4 through 7
  • Ages 10 to 14
  • Middle school into early high school, grades 5 through 9; these kids may be reading older MG and younger YAs
Young Adult   (YA)

40,000 to 60,000 words

  • Ages 12 and up
  • Older middle school into high school, grades 7 through 12
  • Ages 14 and up
  • High school, grades 9 and up; generally understood to cap at age 17

About B Lee Draper

Teacher, uni student, aspiring writer.
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