Now that my debut novel is headed for the copy editor - and out of my hands - I'm outlining my sequels for Tanzy's next two adventures. Things will certainly heat up between her and her love interest, but how hot should they get?
Romance and physical relationships run the gammet in YA books: some climax with the two love birds finally, slowly, kissing each other, and another has two teens we've just met rounding third base and heading to home plate before the end of the second chapter. The popular Twilight series has Bella and Edward get hitched before slipping beneath the sheets.
So what's appropriate? My opinion is this: exploring sexuality in some form or another is an integral part of our teenage years. Whether we did it, didn't do it, talked about, read it, whatever - it's a time in your life when you start feeling things that you haven't before, that you don't completely understand, and can't always control. And when a YA story features a budding love, the sparks would feel a little chilly if these feelings weren't addressed one way or another.
On the flipside of all of those feelings, I do think that whatever our characters decide, we have a responsibility to make the experiences and consequences authentic. Glorifying the moment and coming out of it unchanged doesn't do anyone any good - neither for your characters nor your younger readers. As writers, we have to recognize that our characters are showing our readers what kind of treatment is acceptable and what is not. To be frank: Bella and Edward could've had sex before they got married and it wouldn't have bothered me in the least bit. What DID bother me was that it didn't bother Bella that sex with Edward left her covered in bruises. That is not acceptable treatment in my book.
To be completely honest, I've already written such a scene between Tanzy and her main squeeze. This scene is in a separate file, waiting to be dropped into the plot should Tanzy and her love interest arrive at this moment and the fire won't quiet. I'm not positive I'll use it, but I do know how the entire plot will change if I do. Because sex DOES change things - whether in real life or on paper. And if we go down that road, we owe it to everyone involved to see it through to the end.
What are your thoughts? Please leave them here, and include links to your blogs/sites/etc. And please feel free to disagree!!