Young Adult Language

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Joined: December 7th, 2009, 8:34 pm

Young Adult Language

Post by KateK » January 14th, 2010, 6:51 pm

There are a few things that distinguish "Young Adult" (YA) books from other books. First, the MC is a teenager. The rule here is that kids read up, so 12-year-olds will read about a 16-year-old MC more often than the reverse.

The other distinctions are sex and language. Usually, there's no sex in YA books. If there is, it's not described (e.g., book 4 of Twilight). I've also noticed one other exception to this: if sex in the book is THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF THE MC'S LIFE. The best example probably is in Cast & Cast's MARKED.

So, there's a not-too-subtle message in the YA lit about sex.

As for language, the line's a little more blurred. Most YA books avoid the hard-core profanity, which for the sake of my readers' delicate sensibilities, I will refer to as the F-word, the S-word, and the C-word. Oh, and the A-hole word.

If you do not know which words I mean, please do NOT email and ask. I'm a lady, and I dare not even type them so far from my fainting couch.

I'm in a grey area in my book with "God" references in both spoken and internal dialogue. Is it OK for a character to say "Oh my God" when something shocking happens? Is this blasphemy? Will it get my book banned in certain parts of Mississippi? Is that a bad thing?

Interestingly, there's no line on violence. Characters can be decapitated, eviscerated, ex-sanguinated, or otherwise killed and/or mangled in horrible ways in YA fiction, even in books with middle-grade appeal, like Harry Potter.

So, having your MC's BFF sucked dry by a vampire in lurid detail is cool. But don't you DARE let her light up a cigarette.

UNLESS that's the reason the vampire decides to kill her. What can I say? Smoking's a dangerous habit.

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Joined: January 14th, 2010, 6:33 pm

Re: Young Adult Language

Post by mwaltersbeck » January 14th, 2010, 7:16 pm

Love this. So true. And points for being a useful set of guidelines for those new to YA.

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Re: Young Adult Language

Post by Emma » January 14th, 2010, 9:54 pm

I enjoyed your post. I have to admit that part of the reason I will always read YA is because I enjoy these points. In terms of that there normally isn't cursing or smoking or things that when I want to just escape from my world and into another I don't want to think about. Instead you are able to pay attention to the plot and the premise instead of what you wish they would not have added in. Great post!

Emma Michaels

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