Mini Rants,  Writing World

Warning: Class 5 YA Rant


I don’t remember when this was, but a while back, I was reading a blog post in which the author of said post was going on and on about how they were writing their first story in the “adult” category (having previously only written young adult) and what a relief it was not to have to “hold back” anymore.

Hold back as in, “Yay, now I can cuss like a sailor!” <— I’m not joking. That is seriously what they meant.

Like really? Read much?

I can’t say I’ve read a TON of YA that has “bad” language in it, but I have. I am, in fact, reading one right freaking now. So, it’s not like it’s off-limits for the category. I drop quite a few words in the bad language department, myself (in my stories). And I’m not a potty mouth in person. I’m one stick of gum away from being a prude. About everything.

I read a YA story a few months ago that had a slightly crazed main character stalking this older guy that she had an inappropriate fling with after he dumped her for someone his own age. Someone might say this is inappropriate subject matter for a teenager to read, but I personally find it freaking refreshing. Granted, it didn’t go into a ton of graphic detail, but it was still VERY clear what was going on.

In support of it not being inappropriate, I roll out myself as exhibit A. Fact, I distinctly remember reading mostly adult books between the ages of 13 and 21, except for my favorite books in all categories that I read over and over again. And some of these books had some really eyebrow raising content. I read Anne Rice in high school, for example. If you’ve ever read Anne Rice, you might wonder why my mom let me read that. Honestly, she wasn’t paying a terrible amount of attention, but she did get a kick out of me carrying a dictionary around and asking her to define words for me whenever I left that dictionary at home. Adult books had a lot of big words and I learned a lot. Plus, at the time, I had burned myself out on YA books that I actually wanted to read, so there was a pretty long break from that section. It’s not as big as it now, not by a long shot.

Truth is, young adult books stretch a very wide spectrum of readers. I’m not writing for teenagers. I’m writing for everyone who likes to read the kind of crazy I love to write. This includes adult me AND thirteen year old me, who would have been thrilled to read the kind of books I write now. Lol!

Around this same time, I read a different but equally infuriating post about how clueless teenagers are about kissing, especially the girls. Like all first kisses are these super stressful chaotic things, and the only appropriate reaction is, “OMG!! MY FIRST KISS!!! I’M DYYYYYING! TEEHEE” This came from a writer of YA fiction AND a freelance editor of everything.

I’m not even joking!!

Honestly, it pissed me off. I wanted so bad to comment on that post and tell that person that they were completely out of line in their assumptions. But I held my tongue for fear of going off on a tangent and calling them an idiot. Every single freaking experience in life is different for different people. I remember my first kiss. You can feel sorry for me if you want, but there was no swooning. No butterflies. No giggling. I distinctly remember wanting to rip my own tongue out afterwards. It was gross.

And I could talk all day about the craziness I ran into on a daily basis when I was a teenager. Some teenagers are insane. I had friends that hijacked a driver’s ed car and wrecked it. They were also high, by the way. THE STORIES!! I could write an entire, apparently inappropriate, series of books about my friends in high school.

Were there little clueless ditzy girls? Yeah. Me. And though I tried my darnest to keep a bubble wrapped around myself, I was surrounded by hoodlums. So I don’t want to hear about what’s appropriate in a YA novel, especially something as asinine as kissing and swearing. It’s not that serious.

I really have no idea where either of those posts were coming from. It’s not unrealistic or inappropriate for the age group to have “edgier” themes or swearing in a YA book. I love sweet little chaste stuff sometimes, but if I read that all the time I would throw up in my mouth. Same goes for trying to write it. So naturally, I have a tendency to both read and write crazy stuff on the regular.

People are, of course, entitled to their opinion. If they want PG, that’s fine. But that one person was on their blog telling everyone else how to write a kissing scene in a YA book like she had all the right answers to writing in life. THERE ARE NO FREAKING EXPERTS. And with the first person, on the swearing, she should know better because she reads about 100x more books a year than I do.

That’s all. End Rant. I was just so flabbergasted and appalled.


  • Sunflower Michelle

    LOL! I feel like I jumped straight from children’s books—are Babysitters’ Club and American Girl considered children’s or MG or YA?–I have no idea. Anyway, I jumped from that straight to bad romance novels around 11 or 12. Then I became obsessed with the Romanovs and the Tudors, so I started reading some non-fiction history as a teen. Talk about the vocabulary! And the complex issues that I, sheltered bookworm that I am, didn’t understand. I’ve never read YA (well, besides Twilight and the Hunger Games) and I don’t know that I’d necessarily want to, only because I didn’t particularly like teenagers when I was one and I don’t think I had the typical adolescent experience, so I don’t know that I’d necessarily relate to fictional teenage protagonists.

    But when I interned at a lit agency, a lot of the submissions I read were YA and they were a range from fantasy to romantic YA, dealing with love and sex and heartbreak. It’s not a genre, it’s a category, so there’s a whole range of ways to write YA!

    • Krystal Jane

      I’m thinking Babysitters’ Club and AG are MG. I have several MG books with teen protagonists. I tore into quite a few of those! I was in the Babysitters’ book club. Too bad I’d finish the books in a day. 😀

      Relating to books can be weird. I’ve never been a 16th century debutant, but I’ve devoured a large share of books about them for sure. Lol!

  • Tonja Drecker

    🙂 You hit one of my pet peeves right on the nose. I don’t even want to begin how many of my kid’s classmates are pregnant, locked up for drugs and as to clean language…ha! Yeah, right. Even when I think back to 5th and 6th grade (and I attended a private, religious school), those girls had discussions and did things with those guys that was. . .well, now as a mother, my mouth would drop. Lol! We even had a girl who was kicked out of school because she decided to pursue a career as an exotic dancer (supported by her parents). So the idea that YA lit can’t hit certain areas because it’s too taboo is ridiculous. Not that all novels should run into these areas (I’m only half a stick of gum from prude myself 😉 ), but to think kids and teens don’t run into this stuff anyway is simply naive.
    But I’ve run into a lot of stuff in YA literature, so although authors might say one should be careful, it’s not true. YA is a huge range that includes about everything.

    • Krystal Jane

      It really does. There’s something for everyone and all ages across all book categories. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s peeved about it! And oh my gosh, middle schoolers are also crazy sometimes. I had a friend in the 7th grade who got pregnant for the second time! Life is so crazy.

  • Michelle Tran (@michelletwrites)

    I love how YA is so broad, and a lot of people who read YA don’t need to be young adults. I hate how people try to pigeonhole YA and what you can and cannot do. If you’re a writer, tell the story the way you want to write it. There’s not point in trying to shove yourself in a pretend box, so not sure what that blogger was talking about not being able to use foul language. I’ve seen foul language in YA all the time. I digress.

    • Krystal Jane

      I love the broadness of it, too! It’s one of the things that makes the category so much fun. ^_^ I used to think there were set perimeters, and maybe there were twenty years ago, but that is definitely not the case now! I like to think there’s room for everything. 🙂

  • Crystal Collier

    It’s true, there are no experts. All readers have their limits, I just sometimes wish books came with ratings on them. I kind of always believed that authors who didn’t keep the language to a minimum were lacking in creativity. (See Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series if you want the ultimate examples of avoiding language and replacing it with something much, much better/funnier.)

    You know, I completely skipped YA when I was younger. I think that’s why I’m making up for it as an adult.

    • Krystal Jane

      I’m all for putting stickers on stuff! They do it with music. I would love that. I used to think swearing was a lack of creativity, but it depends on the subject matter. Sometimes it’s worse not to have it and sometimes it still makes me cringe. It really is lazy in some cases.

      I didn’t read nearly enough YA when I was younger either. I read so much more of it now. 🙂

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