Friday, August 27, 2010

Keeping It Real

 Guest Post By Imogen Rose! Author of PORTAL!

Or not? Is the use of profanity acceptable in YA literature?
Mary, thank you for inviting me to guest blog! Having now written two YA novels, one of the issues that still remains unresolved in my mind, is whether the use of certain commonly used words (you know what they are!) should be acceptable in YA literature. 

I didn’t really set out to write a YA book. In fact, genre was not something I thought about at all when I was writing PORTAL. I wrote the story for my daughter who was eight at the time, so I kept it clean without really thinking about whether I was compromising the authenticity of the dialogue. However, the setting of PORTAL is contemporary with the main character being a high school student. Sure, in real life, her natural dialogue (thinking about my own teen here) would have contained words that I didn’t use in my story. By leaving these out, did I keep it real, for my YA audience?

Genre is something Amazon forced me to select. I decided that my story would probably appeal to the same audience as the Twilight and Evermore books, so I categorized it under YA fantasy. Though the age range for YA is not clearly defined, I would have thought YA means age fourteen and above. Had I written PORTAL for this age range in the first place, I may have wanted the dialogue to be slightly different (and I don't mean bad words in every other sentence, just when absolutely necessary to the story). I would imagine that there is a wide range of literature aimed at this group where the use of certain words would be natural, and restraining such use would compromise the story. Yet it seems unacceptable to include them in YA literature. It’s not like teens are unfamiliar with the words, so why censor them?

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