As many of you know, I'm a fantasy writer.
As a few less of you know, I'm also writing a YA novel, strictly non-fantasy.
Guess which genre I know practically nothing about?
Each genre has it's own set of 'rules' (let's say, guidelines). For fantasy, you aim for a different word count. For thrillers, you aim for a different pacing. That kind of difference.
So what are the 'rules' for YA?
Here's my guess so far. You have the basic rules of any genre: solid writing, correct grammar, relatable characters, interesting dialogue, solid, relevant plot. Got it.
For fantasy, I know you have to focus on an engaging world, a well-thought out magic system (if there is one), a believable plot, and well-paced tension. The characters don't have to be particularly unique (the genre is notorious for being based entirely on the character set of Lord of the Rings) and the exposition doesn't have to be particularly clever. Even though, ideally, it would be.
So what is it for YA? I know you can't slack on anything in any story - everything should be at it's best - but where do you want the focus? Teen issues? Interesting characters? Descriptions? Sexual tension? Emotional tension?
P.S. Disclaimer: There have been a lot of posts out there bashing YA, and I want to be absolutely clear: I do not think that it takes any less skill, hard work, or talent to write a YA novel. Every individual novel is such a unique process, each genre is unique as well. :)