Random Inspirations

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Reflections on Clean YA Fiction

on July 31, 2013

Is it just my imagination, or is Young Adult fiction getting more and more mature? And I’m not just talking about the sassy, wise-beyond-their-years main characters–I’m talking about the steamy sex scenes and adult language that seem to be pervading the genre.

I have no problem with these things, since they’re part of life. Nor do I have a problem with the writers who incorporate these elements into their stories, as they can be very entertaining for teens exploring a new side of themselves.

But, when I’m writing, I prefer to keep it clean. I grew up reading clean YA, and there’s something beautiful about keeping that innocence alive. When I write, I think not only of critics and book sales, but of the average reader: a fourteen year-old girl discovering herself, for example. I think of her motivations, her desires, her likes and dislikes. And my target reader is always on the innocent side, as many girls that age are.

Whenever I write a scene, I also ask myself: Would my parents be proud to read this? How about my grandparents? How about my future kids?

Asking myself these questions has always kept my writing clean. It also prompted me to end my two-week hiatus from the blogosphere and post my viewpoints on swearing and sex in YA fiction.

When I'm writing, I prefer to keep it clean. :)

When I’m writing, I prefer to keep it clean.

  • Swearing in YA: Teens swear–no doubt about it. And so do some school-aged kids, new adults, middle-aged adults, elderly people…the list goes on and on. But when I write YA fiction, I prefer to avoid profanities. As my great-grandpa always said, “People who swear have an insufficient vocabulary in which to express themselves.” I don’t mind swearing (in moderation) in everyday life or even in books. But when I’m writing, I take Great-Grandpa’s challenge and find other words to express myself–especially when my audience may include readers as young as a precocious age nine or ten.
  • Sex in YA: Erotica is everywhere, and it’s even creeping into YA fiction. (Hopefully, YA erotica is not the next big thing!) But I never include sex scenes in my writing. Although many teens are active, a lot of readers aren’t, and it’s great to preserve that innocence. Capturing the magic of a first kiss can be just as emotionally stirring as a sultry sex scene–and it’s infinitely more age-appropriate.

I did some research, and it seems like many writers are in my squeaky-clean corner. Click here to watch a super-fun video posted by the Parenthetical Chicks that drives my points home. Enjoy!

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