Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

I’m posting an early update today, so I can focus on my writing for the rest of the day. I’m over 26,000 words and am nearing the halfway point of my goal. Things are slow, but I have been making my daily goal of 700+ words, so I guess I can’t complain.

And now, on to our topic for the day:


Specifically, how do you handle sex in a book that is supposed to be intended for younger readers? After all, this novel is supposed to be YA. So what am I supposed to do with this scene I am currently writing where one of the boys is rubbing suntan lotion onto the back of one of the girls?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like he’s trying to untie her bikini top or slip his hands under her bottoms. But he is a teenage male, and is definitely getting aroused.

This also ties in to the problem I am having with keeping the writing appropriate to their age. I’m finding it difficult to keep the kids’ down to the point at which I originally started. When I first conceived this idea, they were supposed to be around ten years old. Then I decided to raise it to fourteen. With this scene, they seem to be approaching eighteen. I suppose I could argue that teenagers’ actions regularly swing between that of a two-year-old and a twenty-year-old, but what kind of writing is it where the character is that out of control?

Another thing I have to consider is the censors. Despite the fact that this is a “free country”, and this story is just a story, I would be a fool to think that if I tried to publish it there wouldn’t be any negative reactions from someone who thought it was inappropriate to discuss kids thinking about sex. Even though we all know that they do. I’m not planning on letting them actually have sex, but I would probably be accused of being some sort of pedophile if I got too explicit and let them do “it”.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Or maybe examples of mainstream books that cover this issue? I would definitely appreciate any feedback.

Thanks in advance. I’ll see you again on Sunday. I’m going to try to hit that halfway mark by then, and hopefully I’ll be past the sex and on to a different problem.



Filed under ROW80, The Writing Experience

3 responses to “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

  1. It may be my bad memory, but I seem to recall a lot of young adult books I read (when I was probably too young for them) where sex was just implied.. and if you were too young to understand what it was, then there would be no harm done.

    I’ve seen similar things on TV where a guy and girl and kissing.. then cut to them vaguely putting a T-shirt on. Lots implied, but I don’t think you’d be scarred by it if you were too young to know what sex was.

    -best of luck, Vera

  2. I’ve read YA books where they had sex, it just wasn’t explicit. I don’t think a boy just rubbing suntan lotion on a girl, and then the boy getting aroused, is too over the top for a YA where the audience is usually teenage and up. You just have to word it in a fairly tasteful manner.

  3. Lauren Garafalo

    I agree with Vera – a TON of YA books just allude to it. One I’ve read recently where it actually happened was Graceling by Kristen Cashore. To me, her characters feel old enough to handle it, but I also think it’s easier to deal with because it’s a fantasy set in a different time period. Also, I know there is at least oral sex in one of John Greene’s books and it is also from the male perspective..if that might help at all. I think it was in Looking for Alaska…it caused controversy with good arguments from people on both sides that I’m sure you can find on the web. Also, I am CONSTANTLY seeing reviews from teens that are upset about no sex in their books…for what it’s worth. They feel like it’s something that they address in their real life and authors should address it in the lives of their characters. Don’t know where I really fall in the whole spectrum, but will also have to tackle the problem at some point in at least one of my WIPs so would be interested in anything else you find. Have a great rest of the week!

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