Non-sterotypical Relationships

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cheekychook
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Post by cheekychook » November 18th, 2010, 11:26 am

I strongly believe you have to write the book you want to write. For me, at least, it doesn't work any other way. That said, writing a book is one thing and having others read it or trying to market it are two very separate issues. If you are writing a book that you want others to enjoy you need to keep certain things in mind. It helps, a lot, to have an idea of who these other people might be and what their "limits" are in terms of reading material. There's a lot of leeway in YA literature, but it's still for YAs. They can handle light books, heavy books, short books, long books, and a full range of subject matter----but the way that subject matter is addressed needs to be in keeping with what they are ready for---what is age appropriate to them.

To use the best known examples I can think of Harry Potter and the Twilight series are both set of YA novels. They both cover everything from childhood and teenage angst, to fitting in with peers, to evil superhuman powers, to unhuman/undead creatures, to love, to hatred, to jealousy, to death, to homosexuality, to loss, to murder, to murderous thoughts, to chastity, to sex, to marriage, to pregnancy and birth. There's not a lot that isn't at some point covered between the two series. But it's all covered in a manner that is appropriate to the YA audience. Even with that there is controversy. Some argue there are too many religious overtones in both series....some object to the more sexual content (even though it's really extremely mild)...some object to the underlying messages they think they see----in spite of the controversy these books have done well, but I think it's largely because only some readers see and object to these issues and they not overriding, prominent features of the books.

What I'm saying is, if every reader takes issue with the topic/content/handling, then you have a problem with the material. In spite of your excerpt it is very hard to say what the case is with your story. On their own more hotbed issues like vast age differences, violence, rape,and homosexuality can, when handled properly, find their was into either YA or adult novels. Even if they are in either genre in a well-done way, they can still cause issues in terms of readership, marketability, and banning---you don't have to write to those limits, but you should be aware that they are real.

You have less limits in adult literature because adults are more capable of deciding what is and isn't okay for them to read, whether it's based on their beliefs or their preferences or just their tolerance limit for certain subjects. With YA literature, in my opinion, the author and the publisher have some amount of responsibility in making sure that books labeled YA have already clearly fit into the limits of YA readers can likely handle.

When dealing with issues that tend to spark a strong reaction from people I think you need to be particularly cautious to make sure those issues are totally relevant to your plot and not just thrown in to be different or to add controversy. Older woman/younger man relationships are one thing (and some people have a strong response to that on its own)---but any adult having a sexual relationship with a minor is a whole other issue---both morally and legally---don't take on both levels of controversy unless it is truly necessary to your plot. If it is, fine, but explore it thoroughly, don't throw it in as a side note and not address it to show why it's significant and important---make the reader believe that in spite of how unusual it might seem initially, it's necessary.

With issues such as rape and homosexuality it is even more important you handle the subject matter well. There are publishing lines that won't deal with books that contain certain subject matter, and both of these issues are topics that are, at times, singled out. This is particularly true of Christian publishers, many of which will not even allow heterosexual kissing in their books. Again, I think it is very important to make certain that emotional topics like this are not thrown in for the sake of giving characters an interesting feature/past/experience----they need to be there because it is essential to plot...or else leave these out. There are people who have been raped or have had someone they care about get raped who very much would not want to see rape used as a plot device or thrown in as an aside or added in an unrealistic way---it's not an issue that is easily tackled nor one that is likely to go over "well" with an audience unless it is very cautiously handled. Likewise, homosexuality is something to be handled with care, not thrown in as a character quirk or just to add a relationship that's less typical. If it's real and it's pertinent to the story and it's handled well it will add to your book, if it's not, it won't go over well, even with readers who are open to it.

Again, it's not an issue of size---the Harry Potter books and the Twilight books were all far longer novels than the adult books I usually buy. The distinction is about the story. And it's not so much the plot of the story as how that plot is handled and how it's communicated to the reader.
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Post by sierramcconnell » November 18th, 2010, 11:40 am

I really don't see Cael's homosexuality as a plot device or character quirk. He's basically tortured by his father's hate of him, the fact that his father tried to kill him as a child a couple times and it failed, and he lives in a small room off to the side as if to be forgotten until his cancer\asthma\other health problems eat away at him. He's a detriment and he knows it.

Then he meets Fidelis. He's a test, by his father, to see if he'll eat a human. But the test ultimately fails because Cael won't do it. Fidelis is a street rat\photographer\whore(so to speak). He had sex with pretty much anything that would pay him money, food, camera parts. He's loose and rough, and this intregues Cael. He loves it, and he loves Fidelis since Fidelis is the only one to treat him with any sort of attention.

He starves for that. And Fidelis is in turn, starved for someone like Cael.

Fidelis often says it was wrong for him to lead Cael on, that he should have stopped it, but he didn't. He kept on, because in someway, he does love him. But he's just not sure how. Because of all the crap they go through, the entire book is made. All because of what he did to Cael fifty years ago, and because of what Cael's father did. It was the straw that broke Cael's back. The betrayal to finally push him over.

There's a lot in the book that makes so much sense and is like a web. It's all intricately woven together.
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polymath
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Post by polymath » November 18th, 2010, 12:13 pm

Young adult narratives have one immutable convention: initiation into independent adult self-identity formation. Whatever else a young adult narrative is about, that's what defines the genre. Be it resistance to change or desire to change self-identity, those are the foreground or underpinning complication and purpose besetting a young adult protagonist. Outcomes then are successful or failed resistance or successful or failed change.
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androidblues
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Post by androidblues » November 19th, 2010, 12:27 pm

'That is true. Twilight was written for adults, but later was turned into YA. But there was nothing in Twilight, content wise -- and I'm an anti so I have certain objections to many morals Twilight puts out but that's for another day -- that would object to teens. And it takes place in a high school, and centers around teens. Definitely YA. Besides Twimoms, I don't know any adults personally who would willingly read that.

Anyway you pick the audience, no agent is going to decide that a book heavy, I mean heavy NC-17 heavy, besides The Perks of Being a Wallflower -- which is banned anyway -- is going to become YA. Your book sounds like it would cater to the same audience that liked Let The Right One In or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. That means it's Adult fiction, so anything goes.

Basically think of it this way, anything you wouldn't want your mother to know you read as a 14 year old is Adult Fiction.
As a Teen, I don't really want to read a book with a relationship between a 17 year old and a 27 year old, regardless of gender. I have a five year age gap (call me prude) that I will read. Also, in YA whores do not fly. Neither do characters over 20. The kids might, but once again that isn't done so much in YA but in Adult fiction.

Typically you should know your audience when you write. I write mostly YA and New Adult Contemporary. I don't deal with rape, graphic sex, or anything I wouldn't want my mother reading over my shoulder. But I could put it there, I just don't want to. Subject matter does decide genre most of the time, as well as protag age, but generally writing style decides who your book will be catered too.

If your book just dealt with homosexuality, like many of David Levithan books, I'd say give it a go for YA. But since Fidelis is also a whore, and you have that 17-27 relationship going I don't think it would be marketed for teens. More importantly I don't think many teens would read it.

Girls are the primary audience for YA. Read any random YA book and 99.9% of the time the guy is older. That means he is more mature, handsome, experienced etc. Girls want to be walked into fantasy land when reading. Most High School idiot girls dream about dating college guys, not realizing that said college guy probably can't get a date with a girl his own age if he is entertaining the notion of dating her.

To sum this up, this is Adult Fiction. If the agent decides to query it as a YA later, that's their problem, but with the issues you deal with I find that highly unlikely.
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Emerald_Resonance
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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Post by Emerald_Resonance » November 20th, 2010, 12:09 pm

I just had to pop in and say that I thought your description of the second relationship was adorable.

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Re: Non-sterotypical Relationships

Post by sierramcconnell » November 20th, 2010, 12:42 pm

Emerald_Resonance wrote:I just had to pop in and say that I thought your description of the second relationship was adorable.
Thanks! :3
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