Thursday, 19 July 2012

YA Books and How Far to Go

At the recent RNA Conference weekend, I went to the session led by Tamsyn Murray entitled: "Going all the Way?" - YA comes of age. It turned out to be a fascinating discussion of how far the physical relationship should go in YA fiction, and how much the author should depict in words.

We were given an interesting quote by Ursula Nordstrum: "The writer of books about the real world has to dig deep and tell the truth." Fair enough, I wouldn't disagree with that, but it still left the interpretation of that truth to the individual writer. Most of us agreed that we have a responsibility to offer choices, including sex information. But how far should that go?

After we had explored the premise of a few current books and one notorious at its time of publication, Forever by Judy Blume, we had plenty to discuss. In the end, we agreed it came down to a few main points:
  • the content must fit the character, story, and plot
  • whether the sexual content is explicit or implicit depends on the author's comfort zone
  • the book must be geared to the age range of the specific publisher
  • keep it real in contemporary stories
It really doesn't differ very much from writing adult novels, as we all have to write according to how comfortable we are with the content of physical relationships between characters. Tamsyn's own books include the 'My So-called...' series published by Piccadilly Press and do not contain explicit content.

Food for thought, and great inspiration to get on with writing!


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