AIREDALE Writers Circle in September investigated what differentiates teenage from adult fiction, having revisited favourite childhood books in July. We had a go at writing a scene in the two genres which got our writer’s cogs working hard.

The first book, reportedly, to be specifically written for teenagers was The Outsiders by an American, SE Hinton, in the 1950s. It was a really hard-hitting account of teenage life in a deprived area in the US, still in print.

Since then books for young adults have proliferated, some very hard hitting and a good read for adults as well.

Unlike the typical omniscient narrator of adult fiction, who looks back on childhood either with nostalgia or angst, the teenage protagonist shoots straight from the young person’s viewpoint to dramatise their place in the world, be it relationships, family tensions, flouting of authority, identity issues or cultural shifts.

Strong plots full of adventure, heroism, battling the odds, succeeding against, or in spite of, the adults around them provide a sense of immediacy, of “in the moment” storytelling.

These books can seem very subversive, to adult’s minds. But there is usually a good ending, or at least an optimistic one.

Stylistically the differences can include shorter sentences, fewer discursive or philosophical elements, themes expressed through action and dialogue, absence of subplots.

This means the reader can rattle through them faster than most adult books, but it does not necessarily reduce the complexity.

Philippa Sutcliffe’s The Eagle of the Ninth is a gripping suspense story dealing with poignant family issues and easily digested historical detail.

Martyn Bradon’s Flip, about a boy finding himself in another boy’s body, is a masterpiece of psychological drama, focusing in a very innovative way on teenage issues of identity.

The Secret Garden (Hodgson Burnett) is dated in many ways but absolutely on message with the potential of gardening to help deeply traumatised children.

Worries that teenagers were reading fewer books were assuaged when Harry Potter burst on to the scene.

J K Rowling may have struggled to find a publisher, but once in the public domain, her books experienced a popularity only matched by the likes of the legendary Enid Blyton, whose books have been criticised for failing to challenge young readers enough, yet which are still sold by the million annually round the world.

Recently, a new genre has emerged - Cli-Fi - enthusiastically adopted by writers of young adult fiction.

Climate catastrophes and post-apocalyptic scenarios provide the backdrop to stories where teenagers fight the baddies of environmental corruption and come out on top. Floodland by Marcus Sedgewick and Red Rock by Kate Kelly are examples well worth reading.

Airedale Writers Circle meets every second Tuesday of the month at Sight Airedale, Scott Street, Keighley, starting at 7.30pm.

Meetings consist of speakers on a range of subjects, critique exchanges, writing exercises and workshops. You can just turn up, or contact us first so we can look out for you. The next two meetings cover synonyms and love poetry.