Sunday, August 14, 2011

YA Romance

So the other day I skimmed through Breaking Dawn. I've never been much for paranormal romance, and thus I'm not a huge fan of Stephenie Meyer, although I appreciate how she's expanded the YA genre and paved the road for other authors. For those of you who live under a rock, Bella and Edward get married in the fourth book.

One of my close friends is a hopeless romantic. She says I'm cynical, but honestly, I have a hard time buying teenaged romances in which seventeen and eighteen-year-olds are portrayed as soulmates. The human brain continues to develop into a person's early twenties. Teenagers change a great deal from one year to the next, both in terms of intellect and emotional maturity, and I think you would be hard pressed to find an eighteen-year-old who's ready to consider marriage. Even living in Utah, where many people get married at a young age, I don't know a single person my age who plans on marrying in the near future.

I've been told I'm mature for an eighteen-year-old. I get along with adults, I have older friends, and my adolescence passed with relatively little drama. Most of my friends have boyfriends, and I would consider them above average when it comes to emotional maturity and intelligence (for the most part). But the reality is, teens don't really think about marriage all that much. It's far in the future. Lightyears away. We think about college and boys and parties and sex (even if we aren't having it), but an informal poll of PIKOF (People I Know On Facebook) shows that marriage is the last thing on our minds. Perhaps this is a recent change; after all, thirty years ago women didn't go to college nearly as often, so once out of high school they settled down and started families. But our culture has shifted in recent years and people are getting married later and later. Again, this may sound cynical, but (generally) I don't think kids my age have the necessary level of self-awareness and maturity to experience "true love." We're still growing, learning, and trying to figure out who we are.

When writing romance in YA, you have to be careful with how far you go. Most people enjoy a good love story, but keep in mind your characters' ages, and try to write from the perspective of a teenager rather than an adult.



    I always did feel like Stephenie Meyer took the story a step too far with the marriage/baby. And Bella never really sounded like a teenager--she was always either a forty-year-old housewife or a petulant five-year-old.

    I agree. "Soulmates" is already a hard concept to do well, and even harder when your characters are teens.

  2. Funny you say that, I feel the same way. I don't remember ever thinking about marriage when I was younger other than finding it odd. I'm married now so obviously it's not so odd anymore.

    Thanks for the kind note on my blog. I like yours as well and from this post, I can tell we'll be fast friends. :)

  3. Hi Kate!

    First, thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Second, congrats on the new agent!

    My story is YA and, of course, there's romance. I questioned how far to take it as well. It's a tricky line because it has to feel real.

  4. I completely agree. I believe that, while writing for YA, it needs to center around young adults. To be honest, I don't even consider Breaking Dawn a "YA" novel. The publishers just decided to cache it as one because they knew it would sell better than in the adult section.

  5. Haha after what I've heard about Breaking Dawn I've placed it on my list of Books I Won't Touch With A Ten-Foot Pole. I applaud your bravery for wading through the whole thing!

    And you already know my thoughts on YA Romance. ;) Great post!

  6. Hi Kate - totally agree about the teenage marriage malarkey.

    My cousin is getting married at age 21 this year (and I was 24 when I got married, husband 23) but those few years make allllll the difference. Although I met my husband when I was 18 and thought about marriage at 19/20. But there is no way that would have been a good idea and that is to say that my family (and I) are far from the norm. : D

    Good postage!

  7. I'm not the biggest fan of teen romances either, unless they are more funny than romantic. Also, I just passed on the Liebster award to you--I'm not sure if you are into awards, but I had to share the love. I enjoy your blog :)

  8. Wading in as an 'oldster' (I prefer that to 'geezer'), I thought I was ready to marry at 16. Fortunately, my parents wouldn't allow it. They were right, the guy developed into a bigger 'turdle' (not misspelled). At 21 I married a completely different kind of man. Thirty-six years later, this is still ge best decision. Looking back, I was in love with the idea of being in love.

    Great post!

  9. I had a hard enough time finding a date as a teenager (a story my wife has a hard time believing). Finding a soul mate was the last thing on my mind. Again, you hit the nail on the pertinent head.

  10. A very thought-provoking post. I too agree that Stephenie Meyer takes her romance a little too far, at least for my taste. I don't think it's the characters' ages so much as that it's so maudlin that it feels slimy. But then again, some people really love that about the Twilight books.

    I think Stephenie Meyer gets harped on a lot for things like this, not because she's really that bad, but because she has such a wide readership and you can't please everyone in every area. There will be some things some people love that other people hate. I guess we just like our romance to be a little more practical. Not gonna get that in Twilight. :)

  11. Hi Kate! Thanks for commenting on my blog a while back. I just returned from vacay time.

    This is a great post. I don't think you sound cynical, just sensible. I do tend to actually sound cynical about romance sometimes, but I think I'm a romantic at heart, because most of my stories include romance.

    In "real" life though, I have no interest in getting married. I just turned 22 and I've never been on a date in my life. (This is not a joke.)