Yalitchat: Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

***NOTE: Please excuse the horrible formatting in this post. Blogger wants to bunch my text into one block. It's being stubborn today.***

YA Lit Chat is hosted by YA writer, Georgia McBride. You can catch the live #yalitchat on twitter, Wednesday night at 9pm EST or anytime on the web athttp://yalitchat.ning.com/.

Last night, we talked about sex. Also word count(40-60k is average for YA) and slang, but mostly the sex. A taboo topic that seems to be becoming the norm in teen fiction.

Does your book need to have nookie to sell?
Heck no! In fact, it may even lessen your chances at a sale if done in bad taste.

Sex is a part of teen life. Not all teens, of course, but if we're being real we know they're doing it. As writers, we want to incorporate every part of teen life into our books. We want the stories we spin to be as real to them as their own lives.

Everything is bigger, more important, felt deeper when you're a teen. One of the most important, most monumental experiences for a teen, is the first time they have sex. That doesn't mean that the sex in your book has to have monumental consequences. It could change the relationship, it could change the character's outlook on things. Or, she could end up pregnant, or with a heady case of the clap. Your choice. Point is, it doesn't have to end badly, because it doesn't always in real life. The last thing you want to do is try to teach a lesson with your writing. If you don't agree with sex in YA, don't write it. Simple as that.

If you do decide to write sex in to your story, do it tastefully. Explicit sex is a big no-no in YA. Besides, you'd probably feel icky writing it. Lit agent, Elana Roth had this to say last night:

@elanaroth: I think people use explicit sex b/c they dont know how to really depict the emotional arc behind it. Its cheap. #yalitchat

Don't write sex for the sake of writing it. If it feels forced to you, you don't need/want it in there. Often a first kiss can be even more sensual than sex. I'm going to post a first kiss scene from one of my works. It isn't finalized (is it ever?), but I hope you'll get a taste of what I mean with a first kiss. This scene comes after a few almost kisses, and lots and lots of sexual tension. This kiss deepens the relationship between the MC and Drystan.

The rain trickled from his nose and eye lashes onto his face leaving behind glistening trails like rilles on the surface of the moon. He took my chin in his hand and I had to fight to keep myself from getting lost in those electric blue pools. He was terrifying and beautiful and I couldn’t look away. My cheeks flushed hot as he moved his face closer to mine. His cool, sweet breath—lavender, like his skin, tickled my nose.

“Drystan—” But before I could utter another word, his hand clamped onto my lower back, pulling me toward him and he pressed his lips to mine. I tensed, only for a moment and then my hands rested on the dimples of his hips like they’d always belonged there. His fingers nipped at my skin, pulling me tighter still, pawing at my back, my shoulders, cupping my face. His lips were even softer than I’d imagined and I felt like melting ice in his hands. His kiss was dizzying, as cool and sweet as his breath. But then it turned in to something deeper.


There was no sex in that scene. Only a passionate first kiss. It was my favorite scene to write and I hope you enjoyed reading it. If not, feel free to tell me. *wink*

Here is another example of how a first kiss can go. This work, another of mine, is in the rough draft stages. I probably shouldn't be posting it because of that, but what the heck. In this one, the main character is in the bedroom of a boy who is obviously crazy about her, but she can't stop thinking about Jesse, the boy she can never have. The reason she can't have him, I'll keep to myself. This kiss takes the relationship of both the MC and her friend, Tom, in a whole new direction.

I closed my eyes. I could hear Tom stand up and cross the room. He sat next to me on the futon, still playing, still singing. It was almost as if Jesse had walked into the room with me.

I pictured Jesse’s face, sitting beside me instead of Tom. He was so incredibly beautiful. I reached out and touched his soft, full lips. He stopped singing. I felt him lean closer to me, pictured the longing I felt in his eyes. I leaned in and pressed my lips to his. We kissed, slowly at first, but then with more fire.

Jesse set his guitar down and slid closer to me. His breath was sweet, spearmint. He tangled his fingers in my hair and pressed our lips together, harder. I touched his cheek with my hand, felt the corner of his mouth with my thumb as his lips parted.


So again, first kiss that can have more of an effect on the story than a sex scene. Or at least I hope it does.

Getting back to sex, if you're going to write it make sure it's realistic, not graphic and pertinent to your story. Like anything else, if it doesn't move your story along, don't include it. Lit agent and YA author, Mandy Hubbard, had this to say:

@MandyHubbard: Sex isnt really edgy, anymore, in YA. Its just.... realistic. But still gotta handle it authentically! #yalitchat

And there you have it, folks. Do the do, or don't. But whatever you decide, keep it real.

If you have a great kiss scene that you'd like to share, we'd love to read it!

For more discussion on this post, you can check out Sisters in Scribe.


Cleverly Inked said...

Great advise....though sometimes raunchy sex is ok.

L.J. Boldyrev said...

Raunchy sex in YA? Can you give us a book that has it?

Jessica Kennedy said...

Raunchy sex in YA is not ok.

And yes, I agree that sex is natural in a teens life. They either are having it, not having but always thinking about it. It's the hormones and they can not be over looked in YA books. It can be handled innocently with chaste kisses but handled well, hungier kisses that lead to sex are ok in YA.

I wish some authors would be a bit more descriptive in YA sex though. I reallly can't stand the "and so they did it and now it's over" sex scenes. Kinda like the sex scene in the Twilight series. The aftermath of the sex was described and left the beforehand scenes up to the reader to imagine so that one was ok. But I wanted a bit more and usually do in YA. I don't need to hear about pulsing appendages and taunt nipples but some descriptions would be nice. I think it could be done tactfully.

L.J. that kiss scene was HAWT! Beautifully done and the tension was tangible. If only I had a creative mind. I have the skill for words but not the skill for story. :( How sad.

Keep up the good work.

Jessica Kennedy said...

Great post btw!

Shannon Delany said...

Great post. And very interesting thoughts. As YA authors we do have to be true to the experiences teens have and a very important body of experiences revolves around sex.

Jessica hit it on the head when she mentioned the hormones driving so much of teen motivation. And LJ, you're right about the fact many times one doesn't have to write sex in order to show sexual tension.

In Cleverly Inked's defense, "raunchy" is definitely defined differently by different people and different cultures. At one of the places I taught, students were *ahem* "experimenting" in the restrooms. To me that's raunchy, but to them it was evidently part of their teen experience.

LJ, nice scene between Drystan and your MC. :-)


L.J. Boldyrev said...

Oh, that is raunchy.

Shannon, thank you so much for stopping by and thank you for the comments!

Jess, I agree. I'd like to see a little more. Maybe I'll work on that myself. :)Thanks for the compliment on my scene. Can't wait for you to read the whole thing.

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