Every writer wrestles with themselves. Does that sentence make sense? Is this character relatable? Should I add that cliffhanger? Authors struggle with questions. Now, I'm going to dissect the one that's always on my mind.
Wait...Can I Write That?
- Sex: Personally, I'm extremely uncomfortable writing about it. But the reality is, teens do have sex. If you write about it in your YA books, I encourage you to write about safe sex.
- Drugs: Teens also do drugs, sometimes. Many fine books look at this frankly, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, you do a disservice to your readers if you don't show the real consequences of drug abuse. It can be life-threatening. Do not make light of it.
- School: I read this great YA blog, and lately they've been running an ongoing feature about the many cliches in YA books. One of them is teens who don't ever go to school, or even think about it. Your teen characters should be going to school. If they ditch, if they do poorly, they should face repercussions. Don't you when you shirk your responsibilities?
- Underage drinking: It happens. There are entire movies about teenagers buying alcohol to have parties. But drinking to excess at any age can be dangerous and it can lead to problems (like hangovers, and fatal car accidents). So if you show it in your books, do so three-dimensionally. Always strive to show all sides of a situation; this makes for better writing anyway.
You've decided to speak directly to young readers with your stories. When you do so, think carefully about exactly what you're saying to them. You always have a responsibility to your readers as an author, no matter how old they are. Do your best to wear that responsibility well.