it can change everything, can't it?
one of the big arguments (or area of differing opinion) in YA is whether cursing is necessary when writing for a young adult audience.
there seems to be two main camps on this issue: those who believe bad words have no place, at any time, in YA fiction, and those who believe it adds realism to the story.
well, let me tell you my wip has A LOT of cursing.
not like in a quentin tarantino "i'm gonna strive to make every other word the F word" way, but in a normal teenage angst sort of way.
but not only are there bad words, there's smoking (from a certain faction of characters), references to sex, and some marijuana use.
when i look at it on paper it looks like my book is very gritty and dark.
and yes, parts of it are, but as a whole it is not intended that way.
as i've been writing the book i've felt the cursing, drug use and sex references were necessary because it's what the characters are doing. yes, i was the one who created them, but i think most writers find their characters flesh themselves out. they are the ones who tell you how they should be depicted. so when my character reached for a cigarette, i wrote that in. when i write his diatribe filled with swear words, it's because he actually said those things.
and honestly, i felt "hey, these are the kinds of things kids are doing nowadays anyway. it's YA fiction, not middle grade." BUT i have to say i'm starting to have some concerns. and my concerns didn't appear because someone made a good argument for no cussing in a blog, or that i happened to read an awesome YA novel that was PG. nope, my concerns are named max and connor.
i have known max and connor most their lives. they just turned fifteen this year and are great kids. they are both extremely athletic, and get good grades in school.
when i was thinking of rounding up beta readers later in the year to give me feedback on my manuscript, i though max and connor would be ideal since they are part of my target audience, and they could tell me if my male main character was real enough.
but then i got nervous. what if max and connor saw the language, sex and drug use and thought since i wrote about these things, i must condone them? what if reading about the situations made them curious to try them? all of a sudden i was doubting whether what i'd included in my book was absolutely necessary.
and then i wondered why i never had any cause for concern when i though of anonymous fifteen year-olds reading my work. why did it not cross my mind that they might think i was condoning the behaviour i was depicting. or that they might be influenced by what i had written.
well, after some reflection i've decided to keep writing in the manner i started.
i'm not saying it's set in stone, but since i'm halfway through the first draft i think it would be a mistake to go back and tweak things. so i will forge ahead, finish the manuscript and then give it to my beta readers.
if the consensus is i have too many gratuitous bad words, etc., then i will look at possibly changing parts of the novel.
but of course, that is waaaaaay in the future.