As pride month comes to a close, we thought it'd only be fitting to write a message. We'll keep it short and simple, sending all our love to our LGBTQ+ readers. Thank you for reading our posts, and even sharing your own to be featured on the blog. Thank you for the calls to better representation in stories, and for seeing other readers just like you who ask for the same thing.
We see you and we support you. Your stories matter, whether you're closeted, questioning, fully out, or somewhere in between all of those. Write that happy ending for your gay couple — write that awesome coming out arc. Because as it's been made clear from this month on the blog: we need more of those.
Pitches for articles on pride are always welcome outside of the month. It doesn't stop here. We can't wait to see what else is in store.
Thank you for reading the JUVEN blog. Happy pride month!
As long as you’re alive, there really isn’t a point where you can say that you’re done with writing a piece. Even several years down the line, when you stumble upon something you’ve kept untouched for a long while, it’s impossible to fight back the urge to alter some parts of the piece.
But there’s a problem: you no longer feel the same way.
Representation isn’t a topic that needs introduction. If you’ve been on the internet, you’ve seen some sort of talk about representation and how powerful it is. Simply put, these affirming characters inspire us. As another Pride month comes to an end, it’s important to remember that being LGBTQ+ isn’t just a thirty-day trend. Here are a few reasons why LGBTQ+ characters in books matter, too.
CW// mentions of homophobia, self hate
Sexuality is hard and confusing. And in a society where the only mentions of gayness are whispered gossip and lunchyard jokes, it tends to get harder.
I’ve grown up with barely any idea about homosexuality, just like so many other teenagers in South Asia, the most I'd seen of it secretly watched episodes of Shadowhunters with my sister late night; malec the first gay ship I encountered.
In full honesty, I only found out more about LGBTQ+ in quarantine, through the vast hole of the internet. It was so different from what I was used to — hearing relatives make wedding plans and hearing the girls I knew gossip about boys while I blushed when my closest friend looked at me a certain way. It was a new world, with words like lesbian, bisexual, pride -- so many things I was oblivious to.
In some ways fantasy and science fiction stories allow us to delve into a world that is wholly unreal, yet we as readers can relate to the characters and their journeys. However fantastical the world, unique the systems of magic, and creative the creatures that reside within it, readers read these stories and can relate in some manner to the characters we follow. Oftentimes in speculative fiction, the excuses for a lack of diversity can be exceptionally thin or characters that are supposed to be diverse are coded confusingly or badly portrayed. When writing LBGTQ+ characters specifically, coding them correctly can allow readers to feel seen even in the most outlandish of lands.
There’s several ways to code characters, even if you do not want to include a romantic subplot in your story. Queer stories aren’t always romantic, but living in a heteronormative world, it’s important to make sure readers won’t assume a queer character to be straight.
Other than the recurring image of a van traveling around the states, I didn’t have a solid idea what travel writing was before this week. So when TYWI’s nonfiction camp theme was announced, I was confused to say the least. How could I possibly write about travel if I’ve rarely left my city? Thankfully, I’ve come to learn more about it with the help of daily prompts and discussions. But, that also involves the murkier side of travel, just in general. So, I'll be passing on everything I’ve gathered about the wide world of travel writing. Stick with me, it’ll be worth your time.
The word sapphic, as opposed to lesbian or WLW (women loving women), is inclusive of more gender identities including non-binary people. For a great resource about the word “sapphic”, click here.
The sapphic relationships in these YA books span the scale of plot importance — not all are centered around romance — but it’s valuable to read books with casual representation of these relationships. Here are six candidates for your next great read — dive right in!
Once you’re in the thick of your story, you’ll want to start thinking about places where you can raise the stakes. Raising the stakes is probably one of the most significant aspects of your story because it gives the reader something to care about. It puts them on edge and makes them want to keep turning the page. What is at stake if x doesn’t happen? A character’s death? A bleak, miserable future? A broken heart or a lost friendship?
Your stakes should be appropriate for both your audience and genre. For instance, the stakes are going to be much higher and probably more complex in an epic fantasy than they are in a contemporary romance, which is what your audience expects. In a story with dragons, there is a possibility of the world being set aflame. In a middle school drama, your character’s biggest obstacle could be making the all-state team or asking their crush out.
Both situations require tension.
Here are some tips for creating tension in a scene.
In every piece of writing, there’s a speaker we’ve come to know as “the narrator”. As you are currently reading these words, there’s a voice guiding you along the page, saying these words to you. The role of the narrator is to move the story along and provide a voice for the sentences of a story or poem.
The narrator takes on many roles, but one thing that stays consistent is their point of view. Regardless of what you read, you are reading from a perspective provided by the author and funneled through the narrator. Different points of view can accomplish different things in writing, such as distancing the audience from the action or fully immersing them in the story.
Let’s take a look at the points of view:
I am of the opinion that a villain is more important than a hero. That opinion is slightly void in recent YA with the rise of teenage fans falling in love with characters through different fan-created mediums (plot? What plot?), but still — a story is a problem. And very often, the problem is a villain.
The best villains create complexity for heroes — make them doubt and question and hurt. For that, the villains have to be complex themselves. But, this isn’t about complex villains. If your villain is worth their salt, they will be complex. But, diverse? Let’s talk.
With diverse characters overall, it can be so easy to spill in offensive stereotypes, and villains of any marginalized or minority or simply unknown group double that.