Friday, July 2, 2010

Romantic Love in YA

"Their eyes met, and the heat scorched their souls. They drew together in a tender kiss that soon became more urgent. He pulled the fabric of her shirt, and she gasped as his hands slid across the bare flesh of her back. And then they... "

How far can writers take romantic and/or sexual scenes in YA novels? Should physically consummated relationships simply be implied (e.g., waking up in someone's room in Uglies and the whole feathers thing in Breaking Dawn), like the old movies in which the two lovers lowered out of the frame and the scene faded to black? Or should the scenes be clearer, like in the first House of Night, in which the act itself is arguably the worst mistake in a long string of bad judgments? On a side note, don't even get me started on the bad judgment of Ever, the MC in the Evermore series. I love the suspense and the tension in this series, but I can't help but think that most of Ever's problems are her own making, and that annoys me.

But I digress.

Back to today's topic. In the immortal words of Salt and Pepa, "Let's talk about sex, baby!"


Disgruntled Bear said...

Graphic is bad, at least in YA, but readers need SOME clarity.

I recently read a YA book (the most recent in a series) in which two characters in a "romantic" situation are interrupted by a third (who's in love with the woman in the interrupted duo). I actually had NO CLUE how far things had gone before the interruption, so I had no idea whether the characters' reactions were appropriate to the situation. The scene read like it had been edited too many times, and the author simply "knew" what happened--but forgot to explain it to the rest of us.

Anya said...

I think it should be clear! I mean you don't have to describe every single detail like in the adult books but I think the reader should at least know if they are doing it or if they're just making out.

Anyways which book in a series are you talking about? :)

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

If the characters are of age,say late teens, I'd prefer clarity to keep from being confused. Fade to black is nice when the encounters are many. It leaves some to the imagination. I think you can have both depending on the length of the story.

Disgruntled Bear said...

I think you're both right.

Anya, if I told you, I might alienate an author whose work I (otherwise) love.

OK, it was in the latest installment of House of Night.

Leah, you bring up a GREAT point. How important is the character's age? Should they definitely be over 18?

How about emancipated minors, like in the aforementioned House of Night?

And does the type of relationship make a difference? is it "better" if the couple is in a loving and committed relationship, rather than having casual sex?

How about consequences? Is it okay to have more detail, if the characters then experience the downsides of impetuous sexual behavior? Again, House of Night gives a GREAT example of this.

So did Buffy the Vampire Slayer--remember how Angel went all evil that time? They never mentioned THAT problem in health class.

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

Well, 18 and over just lets the whole "underage" guilt ease up. If they are too young (say, 15 or under) some might feel like a creeper reading about the vivid details of an encounter (where fade to black may be a easier to swallow in that case). I don't think that a character HAS to be 18, but it's up to the writer to "justify" it through their personality, their life experiences, etc. However, the other issue of experience=consequences, that's a whole different aspect. I think it has it's place too. Loving/committed relationships are a big hit with me, but I'm not a writer and leave that in your hands...and I think I've babbled on about my opinions here! Thanks for the opportunity! Leah

Disgruntled Bear said...

Thanks for sharing, Leah! It's not babbling when you make sense! :)

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