Is it ok to have small descriptive kissing scene in a young adult novel

by Katie
(md)

Question: I have a kissing scene in my young adult novel and it's pretty descriptive but I'm afraid people might think it's a bad scene and doesn't count as a young adult novel. However there is no sexual type of content.


Answer: Young adult covers a very big age range these days - anywhere from 13 to 25.

Obviously, if you're writing for readers who are 20+ and adults, that's very different from writing for 13-year-olds. Your 13-year-old readers are only at the start of their discovery and exploration of romance and sexuality. At 20+, some may be married with children, or certainly have friends who are. The bulk of readers will be somewhere in between.

Since you're asking this question, I'm guessing, you're writing for younger teens, who may be curious about romance and sexuality, but still want to read about characters they can relate to.

For instance, a 13-year-old girl may very well enjoy reading about a 15-year-old character who experiences her first romance and first kiss. It is part of the human experience of growing up, and what better way to prepare yourself a little than by reading an honest depiction in a novel of a character who has experiences you can imagine yourself having in the future.

I don't know how old you are, but if you know enough about the feelings of girls who are the same age as your readers and your character, if you honour those feelings, and if your character is only doing what countless others her age would do in similar circumstances, you are certainly free to write a kissing scene.

Where you would go astray is if you write a scene with such graphic details that your younger reader feels totally uncomfortable and repulsed, so that she can no longer relate to the character.

Equally bad is if you break character. If your main character is young and fairly inexperienced, it would make no sense for her to suddenly start behaving like a confident sex goddess with the feelings and knowledge of someone 20 years older.

Most likely, your typical reader will be a girl who wants to see the main character as a role model, like a big sister. She wants to be able to put herself into the main character's shoes. Even if she disagrees with the main character's choices, she should feel like she can understand and respect them, given the main character's situation.

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