What’s are the Biggest Differences Between Middle Grade, Young Adult, and New Adult?

If you’re new to writing, or not used to writing for a younger audience, you may not know the true difference between middle grade, young adult, and new adult. Well, look no further! Below, you will find the age ranges, characteristics, word counts, what sets them apart, and examples.

Middle Grade

Age Group: 8 to 12 years old


  • Younger characters (think middle school)
  • Nothing graphic
  • “Younger” problems (think middle school problems like crushes, bullying, etc.)

Word Count: 30,000 to 50,000

What Sets Them Apart: MG tends to be more plot-focused than character-focused


  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle
  • Holes by Louis Sachar

Young Adult

Age Group: 13 to 18


  • Characters are teenagers
  • Parents tend to not be around, as they could very well solve all the characters’ problems
  • Themes and plots are more complicated, but seen through the lens of a teenager

Word Counts: 50,000 to 80,000 (but aim for at least 60,000)

What Sets Them Apart: Even adults are reading YA fiction now because of the fast pace and excitement that adult novels sometimes lack


  • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

New Adult

Age Group: 18-29


  • Very similar to YA, but the adults are generally in their 20s
  • Sex is more prominent

Word Counts: 50,000 to 80,000 (but again, aim for at least 60,000)

What Sets Them Apart: NA is an emerging genre, which means they’re still new and it’s meant to be a bridge between YA and adult fiction


  • Paper Princess by Erin Watt
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (though you can argue that it’s YA)
  • Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

What are your favorite MG, YA, and NA books?

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