Thursday, September 17, 2009

Children and teenagers are YOUNG. Being YOUNG is not the same thing as being a MORON.

The title 'quote' comes from the Rejectionist blog (ie one of those amusing blogs you should have on your reading list).

All I have to say is - YES!!!!!

I'm going to take that post and translate it to mean something that's been bugging me off and on as I see various posts on the 'dirty books' that are getting published for kids these days.

There is just too much confusion in the reading and writing ranks about what is YA and what isn't.

All I can say is people need to grab their car keys, purses, and drive to the nearest mall on a Friday afternoon. They should aim for that time of the day when school lets out early and all of the high schoolers are ganging up at the mall for 'hang time'.

Or let's say they park near the high school parking lot and watch all of the kidlets come rolling out in their big thumping SUVS, trucks, hot-cars, etc.

Or they should definitely go out to the nearest mill pond (or whatever is the lovers lane spot in their town) and try to guess the ages of the kids engaging in a little too much PDA.

The people should also turn on the TV on college football game day. Take a look at those kids running around on the field, the cheerleaders, and also the kids in the student section.

Kids the same age as these students are members of the YA reading audience. If they read (yes, I find it VERY hard to imagine those football guys sitting around under leafy trees in full football gear, reading the latest Vampire Academy book).

Anyway - these people need to look at their books that they are supposedly aiming for the 14-18 crowd, and they need to judge whether or not they truly know their audience.

As far as writing the types of books you FEEL that kids should be reading. It probably depends on how you go about it. If you write a clean book with characters the readers can FEEL for - definitely, do it. I have a couple inspi-fiction favorites that I read as a teen and still have on my bookshelf (Summerhill Secrets, for example).

The difference there though is the setting is clearly Christian, so the kids are a little different. They aren't likely to get into TOO much trouble, or if they do it is once and quickly resolved through parents, community, and church.

When you get into the mixed settings - things are definitely a little different. Most people know that public high schools are a haven of drugs, bullies, 'hand me down boyfriends' and 'pass around girlfriends'. It's also a place where most girls get hit on for the first time, or wonder what's wrong with them if they AREN'T hit on.

Not all kids in high schools are like that, but it is something that kids encounter along the way. They see it happening. As much as we like to think they are living in a tenderly wrapped coccoon, that generally isn't the case.

Doesn't mean you should write about sex, drugs, and violence - but saying that OTHER people shouldn't deal with those issues because you don't want your kids exposed... it's silly. Most kids don't learn the facts of life from books.

I guess what I'm saying is you have to be conscious of drawing your characters and settings realistically. For goodness sakes - don't write about mid-upper teenagers like they still think like twelve year olds. They don't.

3 comments:

  1. Great post!
    This: "For goodness sakes - don't write about mid-upper teenagers like they still think like twelve year olds. They don't." Could not be more true.
    And twelve year olds don't think like six year olds, etc., etc., etc.!

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  2. Thanks! And I absolutely agree on the twelve year olds - really, I guess my thing is I want people to write strong realistic characters for their age and setting. Makes me a happy reader. :)

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  3. I so agree with this. I recently did a post on sex in YA and the majority of my commenters said they wrote and thought YA should be wholesome. I was a bit shocked by the overwhelming response. Also a bit nervous since the YA I wrote falls on the edgy side.

    I was a teen who jumped from YA books around 14 and started reading adult ones--stephen king, vc andrews, etc.. Book that had violence and or sex throughout. I wasn't a bad or rebellious kid. I was doing drugs or having sex. But I was curious about adult things and saw them going on around me. Wholesome stories about high school students didn't seem realistic. (And I went to a sheltered catholic school. I can only imagine what my public school peers were seeing in their hallways.)

    I don't think YA should be gratuitous, but it should be relatable to teens.

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