Courtney has a wonderful guest blog on The Swivet. She talks about four prevalent myths about writing Young Adult fiction. I will now pause while you, my cherished 8.3 readers, go off and read this tasty bit of guest blogging.
Done yet? No?
Oh man, that is a topic dear and true to my heart. I was just talking about Young Adult fiction with a writer friend this weekend and BAM! Courtney’s post. It’s like Christmas came early, but, um since it’s only November 17 I guess it did not.
Anyway. Courtney asks a good series of questions at the end of her guest blog:
Are YA writers responsible for their readers? Should they worry about unduly influencing them? If you write YA, do these things concern you?
My answers: Yes, no, yes.
Are YA writers responsible for their readers?
I feel, in my heart, that Young Adult novel writers are responsible for being honest. When I write, that is not just my pledge, but a mantra. Even escapism books, for me, have to be a reflection of the theme that is real. I can spot a contrived and dishonestly built character a mile away. A plot circumstance that is trying to tell me a morality tale that is forced causes me to take the book and recycle it. Literally, I will throw it in the recycle bin so as not to foster some other poor soul with the literary equivalent of projection.
Here’s an example: You don’t want your little girl to grow up and have sex before she is married. So you write in a character that is slutty, winds up with a STD, pregnant, hit by a car, abducted by aliens and has her hair dyed green after being branded with a sparkly “A”. I’m only exaggerating a little bit here folks.
I personally know women who, as teens, humped their boyfriends silly and are today successful artists, business women and mothers (one all three!), without getting pregnant, abducted by aliens and probed.
Should they worry about unduly influencing them?
These types of worries leak into writing and I have been guilty of it, I admit. If you stay true to your character as you are true to your friends and family, this is less of a worry. This sneaky question is directly related to the one above. If you think you can sneak some moral lesson into your book because you are smarter than your Young Adult audience, guess again. This goes back to honesty. A morality tale is all fine and good as long the novel described the situation in a real way.
To answer this question: You can only influence your teen readers if you are honest about it.
If you write YA, do these things concern you?
I’ve mentioned before, I am a demanding reader. I want to be both entertained and I want reflection. I want the enjoyment that makes me think. I want to escape but not necessarily escape to somewhere two-dimensional. I want a character that is real to me even if she rides a unicorn over a rainbow to work with the munchkins.
Young Adults want the same thing. I believe, dear 8.3 readers, they want more of it, I assert they spot the fake much better than you and I and while there may be dreck on the bookstore shelf, a proper Young Adult novel will live forever.
Of course, I am the unpublished Hack Writer, so take my answers to Courtney’s questions as you will.
How about you? How would you go about answering Courtney’s questions?
That Courtney, she’s pretty smart for a thirteen year-old!