2/14/2016 0 Comments
This sounds like a chipper topic for Valentine's Day, doesn't it? Here I sat down to write something love-related for everyone's favorite saint-themed holiday, and that's the title that comes pouring out of me. But I honestly can't really help it. This notion of the power of the pen has been heavy on my mind lately as I've been preparing for a keynote address later this week, and I can't help but think how it applies to YA love and literature. You see, I was a teenager once, too. (What? Crazy... I know.) The teen years are insanely emotional. Up and down, left and right. Just the wrong look from someone you like can send you spiraling into a pit of despair. Teenagers who like to read often find solace in the pages of books, and there are more YA titles to choose from than ever these days - good news for YA writers like me! But writers like me need to also be extremely cautious in how we craft our romantic leads, and we need to not forget what it was like to be a teenager, because what makes for entertaining reading for us can be soul-crushing for a teen.
The likelihood of a teenager meeting their soulmate in high school is pretty slim. I'm all for setting standards for people, and I think part of the job of the writer of fiction is to create heroes and heroines the likes of whom regular (ie. non-fictional) people want to imitate, but it's more the relational aspects between teenage lovers I often take issue with in YA literature. The heroes are usually a little too perfect, the heroines a little too head-over-heels, and I wonder: when the teenage readers of these stories go through relationships that don't meet these standards of perfection - the standards these books they love so much have taught them is so perfect - does it devastate them?
Or am I taking all of this too seriously?
At any rate, I've always tried to write flawed characters and realistic relationships, and part of the reason why is so that I don't set standards for my readers that they can't achieve in their own lives - especially in the area of romance. It doesn't mean I've never had my characters meet their soulmates in high school, because I'm totally guilty of that! But I try to put plenty of bumps along the way.
What do y'all think of this subject? I'd love to hear! And happy Valentine's Day!
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