The Starsville Saga by Jaclyn Aurore

This is a guest post from my wife Jacki. She’s the author of Starting Over and Standing Up, the first two books in the Starsville Saga. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog, but I wanted to share it here as I feel the question of definition, and the assumptions we make when it comes to dumbing down our own messages, transfer well to business and marketing in general, as well as our own blog communities.

Starting Over and Standing Up, the first two books in the Starsville Saga, are currently listed in the Young Adult (YA) genre.

As the saga progresses, the characters get older and deal with more mature things. The last book in the saga will be in the adult genre, meant for ages 18+.

I’m not sure how the audience will react to that, but I wrote my characters the way I thought I should.

They go from junior high, to high school, to university and adulthood. I hope my audience will grow with them.

I’ve been told that Starting Over and Standing Up should be in mixed genres for the following reasons:

  1. The main character is a child.
  2. The characters have dark back stories that are too deep for young adults to understand.

I tend to disagree with both of these things.

First, the main character starts telling her story at the age of 13, but the books take place over the course of four years. Second, I believe that there is nothing too deep for the YA audience to understand. Sadly, too many people can relate to these dark issues.

YA is one of the genres I like to read for its simplicity. It doesn’t take the author 300 pages to describe the sunset. The sunset is what it is, and for that I’m happy. In general though, I find there are three types of YA authors:

  1. The authors that dumb down content for their YA readers.
  2. The authors that dumb down vocabulary for their YA readers.
  3. The good authors.

Maybe Starting Over and Standing Up deal with some darker issues, but I’m not going to dumb it down. I’m also not going to write condescendingly.

I write the way I speak. So whether you are 14 years old or 40 years old, my language will remain consistent. Minus the profanity.

I hope that’s okay with you.

Young adult fiction writer Jaclyn AuroreAbout the author: Jaclyn Aurore is the author of young adult fiction books The Starsville Saga: Starting OverStanding Up, Giving In, Hanging On, Leaving Behind, and the stand alone fantasy, My Life Without Me. Her books have been described as “Wonderfully human”, “Evokes the awkwardness of teenage life perfectly”, “Heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time”, “Twilight without the vampires”, and “Nothing at all like Twilight”. You can read more from Jaclyn on her official website.

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Blog consulting with Danny Brown

Enjoy this post? Share your thoughts below:


  1. says

    Thank you, Danny! I would say the underlining message here is “Don’t talk down to anyone, no matter how old.”

    Seriously, give people respect and they’ll surprise you.

    • says

      Agreed. I know when Sam Fiorella and I were writing our book, there was initial advice to tone down the language and educational feel, to make it more accessible to the mainstream audience.

      We pushed for it to be written the way it is, as we fully believed it was what was needed to move the conversation forward. Thankfully, our publisher agreed and let us go down that route, and the reaction to the book has validated that decision.

      Like you say, people are far smarter than we often give them credit for. Why assume otherwise?


  2. says

    I agree I feel people in general are smarter and have more the depth at every age than people give credit for. Schools for a long time dumbed down to ensure everyone advanced together. Even when 90% can handle more.

    Yes sometimes when talking with Danny I have to simplify my choice of words. But he get’s it!

    • says

      Hi Howie,

      I’m going to use this opportunity to plug Morning Rain Publishing, the new Canadian Publishing Company that I work for. It is absolutely our intention to enhance the reading material of schools (particularly middle grade and youth) around Canada.

      We believe it’s possible to create interesting subject matter that both entertains and challenges the students… with any luck, we’ll be able to change that percentage from 90 to… erm… to like 10… or something.

  3. says

    Well, its always interesting to note articles that emphasize writing styles that could be embraced by almost everyone. Therefore, I agree totally with the this take by the author:

    I write the way I speak. So whether you are 14 years old or 40 years old, my language will remain consistent. Minus the profanity.

  4. says

    Before anything else, I would like to congratulate your wife Jacki for this awesome book. Well, I think I am one of those who love Young Adult (YA) genre books. It is an interesting story, something creepy and intriguing.

    Anyway, we have our own style in writing. That depends on the feelings, needs, wants and purpose. So I have to agree with you. Write the way you speak.

  5. says

    Many adults tend to underestimate the understanding of young adults. Times are changing and kids are being exposed to more these days than previous generations. Interesting concept for your novels!

  6. Brook says

    It is important to know who your audience is when you are writing. For example, you would not want to offend people with a great deal of expertise and knowledge about a subject by “dumbing” down your content. Depending upon the piece, you may only want to reach a small segment.

    On the other hand, perhaps you are looking for a wide audience. It is my understanding that, in America, most newspapers are written at a ninth grade level. What is your opinion of this?

    • says

      I don’t think that’s restricted to America. There are some great publications there that write at a more advanced level, while some write for the lower denomination. But, then you could look to the tabloid press in the UK and see the same thing.

      I’ve always been a fan of the “write for you first” mindset, and you’ll attract the kind of audience your content can manage. :)

  7. says

    As a person who would rarely pick up anything having to do with reading or even sitting still for five minutes, I find that the authors these days are grasping to the new mantra of writing as though speaking to you as a “friend” instead of a narrator. I think that is why I find myself reading more and more on the things that interest me and catch my attention. Yes, if you are going to author a story then make it worth listening to.