The YA author wakes up in a cold sweat. They have dreamt up their worst nightmare.
A single character. A character not in an ever-lasting monogamous relationship, who doesn't have their ‘after the book’ arc mapped out, with 2 kids and eternal happiness.
Truly the stuff of nightmares.
In YA, every side character needs to be paired off, needs to at least have a hinted romantic interest. God forbid there’s nothing to write fanfiction about.
This is the slightest bit of a problem because… a good chunk of teens don’t date. And an even larger chunk of teens don’t date with the promise of forever. Add concerns such as saving the world onto the plates of many YA protagonists, and dating seems like it should be the last thing on a character’s mind.
From the March sisters to Sadie and Carter Kane, sibling relationships can be captivating to both read and write about. However, they seem to be criminally underrated, especially in YA. Personally, this is the type of relationship I tend to gravitate towards the most, as I think there is a lot of potential in it. Sometimes, it might include tough competition and unexpected betrayals. But, in hopes that we get to see this relationship more often, I have decided to talk about how to write healthy sibling bonds.
Obvious disclaimer for frank discussion of sexual content in the context of literature.
Look, I’m going to go ahead and make a blanket statement that if you're between the ages of 14 and, I don’t know, 25; read mainstream YA; have browsed fanfic at least once — you’ve probably stumbled upon smut in varying degrees while reading. Maybe you like it, maybe you don’t, maybe you think it shouldn’t be in YA at all (or maybe you do!). Whatever it is, the one consensus we get at is: it’s there. And by the looks of it? Sex scenes in your teen lit aren’t going anywhere.
Should they be? Here’s what I think, about sex in YA, the spectrum of sex scenes in general, and what we do need more of in YA.