Seriously, I have a thorn in my side about this topic. I’ve read quite a few YA novels and really?? Where is the realism? Teens in those books don’t swear, don’t drink, don’t have sex, don’t talk back to their parents and all their friends never say anything wrong to them. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about…the real world doesn’t work that way.
I have 2 teenage daughters and a son who just turned 21, and I’ve had plenty of their friends over and seen them in ‘action’. And I can honestly say that most YA books idealize teens and their habits and behaviours. It’s just not real. My kids aren’t bad, but they are normal and most of their friends are exactly the same. They all drink on occasion, they swear, they post nasty messages on Facebook when they’re pissed off, and they make no bones about saying what’s on their mind.
I want more realism in YA stories, and yes! I want to write it that way too, but there’s that imaginary line that stops us writers from crossing that line. Editors, publishers, agents, all don’t think it’s good to write this ‘stuff’ in to our stories and basically idealize young people so they look wholesome and good and never do anything wrong.
Oh, they make mistakes just like we all do. But, they learn from their mistakes. Their social lives are of the upmost importance to them, and they talk openly about sex and drugs and drinking. I’d have to say mine are pretty good about staying away from the drugs, but not ALL teens are like that.
Are we only appealing to an audience of teens who sit at home with no social interaction and read because they have ‘nothing better to do’? Shouldn’t we be writing with more down to earth and real life stuff so teens can identify with our characters? I’d say yes, but of course I don’t have the final say. I wish I did.
So, I’m working on my manuscript, and I’ve decided to break from the norm and make it more believable. No sparkling vamps, no perfect kids, just down to earth and real…lets see where it takes me. Yes, there’ll be some re-vamping of my work, but I’ll feel more true to my own writing by doing this.
This has been bugging me for some time. Of course I’m not going to take it over the top. There won’t be any crazy ass drug dealers or high school hookers in my story, but just the real stuff that happens to teens every day that we gloss over and don’t write in our stories because someone in their infinite wisdom thinks it won’t sell.
I’m writing for me, and writing what I love and what I love is realism. Maybe it’ll be an eye-opener and maybe it won’t, but lets see where it takes me.
Good luck with your stories fellow writers. Write for yourself. Its the only true way to self-satisfaction. 🙂