Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Appropriate Content for Young Adult Audiences

I've been hard at work on my young adult manuscript, and this this post over at SFWA.org comes at a great time.  The author asks several experts what they consider inappropriate for middle grade and YA novels. While I certainly would have said much the same thing the agents said regarding YA- that really nothing is off limits as long as it is necessary to the plot- I was surprised by their responses.  I didn't expect their opinions to mesh with my own.

My current book has a main character that is 17, but her best friend (who also has a huge crush on her) is only 15.  I get caught up at times because I'm not sure if I should protect the 15 y/o a little more.  But then I think, well, 15 year old boys aren't exactly "innocent" (in many respects) :)

When I write adult content, I just do whatever I want.  But when I write YA, I often find myself asking "is this okay?"  I think I need to give myself more license to just go with it and see what happens.

How about you?  If you write YA, do you struggle with your inner parent (or teacher, or what have you), or do you maybe listen to the young you (knowing that you did that and much worse ;) ?


  1. Hey! Sounds like we are both blogging on a similar topic this week. I've got a YA series that I'm working on as well, and I find myself wondering how or if I am going to deal with sex. I know sexuality is very common among teens these days, but I'm not sure about writing a teen book with it. Seems the line between appropriate and not appropriate for teens is very blurry.

  2. I tend to listen to the young me first, since I remember how much it annoyed me when an author tried to "shield" me. :-)

  3. I think that the moment you stop to wonder "Is this appropriate?" you should err on the side of caution and assume it isn't. Young minds are very impressionable and we do a lot of our social learning through the stories we read and watch. I believe authors do need to be careful about what they put out there for young people to read. And you don't need to include sex and other questionable content to write a powerful story.

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  5. I'm writing both YA and adult. My novels cover gay/lesbian themes and there is rape in Broken Neverland. I have to write in such a way that it's still for teens but not too explicit or scary. It's a fine line sometimes with YA but if you love writing in the genre you learn what you can and can't write. Right now my only struggle is when there is heavy themes like rape. Aside from that I write freely because I generally don't write things teens can't read at all.


I'd love to hear your musings :)