The S word

The book I am writing is for young adults. For a while I struggled with the decision on whether or not to include sex in it. The boom of books such as 50 Shades and the Crossfire novels has meant that more and more people are enjoying books with a high volume of sexual content in them. I like a bit of smut, I have read all of those books I have just mentioned. But those are not YA books and while it would be easy to jump on the erotica novel bandwagon it would not be suitable.

But there are many YA books that do include sex. Judy Blume tackled the subject beautifully in ‘Forever’ but what books include what was really neither here nor there. The question was, did I want to include sex. Would it contribute to my book in any way? I decided, not really.

I have nothing against light sexual content in YA books. Teenagers know more than we like to believe they do. But I didn’t think it had a place in my book. I refer to it but I do not go into any detail and that, to me, seemed the right way to go about it for my particular book.

I guess we have to ask ourselves, will it enrich our book in any way if we include it? If you’re writing a coming of age then it will probably need to be broached in some way but if you are writing another genre aimed at young adults then I guess there is really no need to go into any great detail.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


Love E.L

5 thoughts on “The S word

  1. I also write YA and struggled with the same issue. I think many of the boundaries that once defined YA are gone and it’s pretty much up to the author and publisher what goes into it.

    • I agree. I also feel that the line between YA and NA has become blurred.

      My girls are nine and ten (almost ten and eleven) and my ten year old has already had a sex education class at school. My girls are my biggest (only) cheerleaders and I want the them to be able to read it when they are old enough. If I included anything heavy then I know I wouldn’t want them to. I suppose these days deciding when old enough is old enough is difficult!

  2. I feel that including some intimacy in a young adult novel is perfectly acceptable, as long as you don’t cross any boundaries that lead it into being full-on erotica. There is limited sensuality in my Nevermore and Forevermore series, and I have received a lot of appreciative comments in regards to it, stating how the reader was glad not to see much / any sexuality in the book. I want my novels to be able to be enjoyed by readers of all ages of my chosen genre [which is young adult paranormal], and I know that a lot of my readers happen to be teenagers ranging from twelve and up – therefore I try to keep the sensuality as tame as possible, while still allowing some moderate intimacy here and there.

    That being said, it depends on your intended audience. With the Ani’mari Saga, I chose to go a different route and included some more thorough sexual scenes and haven’t received any complaints on it so far, but also warned ahead of time in the description that the novels are intended for readers seventeen and older.

    Also, referring to your characters engaging in sex without any extensive detail can be a perfectly fine route as well :]

    Best regards,
    K.A. Poe

    • Hi, thank you for stopping by. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. Well I probably could, being a writer but it’d sound too mushy lol.

      I think you have put into words beautifully what I feel. I do worry about the inference and it leads to an (unwanted by the girl) attempted abortion (by her mother) which results in her death but it is a very important part of the story. It’s set in the 19th Century which is why her parents react the way they do. I know this is a tricky tricky subject but I also feel that it is not something that young adults haven’t come into contact with before. All I can do is allow the readers to be the judge I guess.

      • Haha, my pleasure! :]

        In a situation like that, it might be wisest to just imply what happened – enough to get it across to the readers without going too much into detail. But, every reader has a different opinion and will react differently. Some may pass through it without a second thought, some may skim through it or skip it altogether, and some may very well enjoy it.

        Sometimes you have to include things in your story based on your opinion and what works best for the book, rather than solely focusing on the viewpoint of the reader. I have had several people comment negatively about things that others gave positive input on – you’ll see that a lot throughout your writing career, but ultimately, it’s your book, your story, and your characters! :]

        Best regards,
        K.A. Poe

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