re: Rules for Love Scenes in YA Fiction?

posted 4/4/18

Dear Editor…

I’m writing an upper YA fantasy. It has a lovemaking scene. The scene doesn’t mention birth control so I was wondering what’s the rule these days in YA novels when characters make love? The scene has many big revelations about their history in another dimension, and I’m trying to convey that they’ve “done it” without being explicit, so there’s already a lot going on and I’m trying to make it feel otherworldly. If I can get away without mentioning a condom, I’d rather not include it. Would love your thoughts on this.

Warmly,
RL

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Dear RL…

There is a general expectation that YA novels depict safe sex. An exception would be if you’re intentionally showing characters being irresponsible or naive about safety and pregnancy. I do hear your artistic rationale for avoiding that down-to-earth detail among your otherworldly revelations. I’ve got an idea: Early in the scene, your character could put a condom in his/her pocket in anticipation of the upcoming encounter. That way, when the bodies get down to business, there’s an implication that the condom mentioned earlier is being used now, even though you don’t call it out specifically. The safe sex message is accomplished, and your complex, highly stylized scene is unmarred by a clunky condom call-out.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Teen/Middle Grade Fiction
posted by: The Editor
under: Teen/Middle Grade Fiction
Comments to "re: Rules for Love Scenes in YA Fiction?" | Add a Comment
    1. chris kelly wrote (on 04/04/18 at 9:14 am) :

      What a great idea… condom in the pocket. Sounds like it also could be a band name.

    2. The Editor wrote (on 04/04/18 at 10:00 am) :

      Ha! I guess it could!

    3. MaryAnn M. Butterfield wrote (on 04/04/18 at 2:35 pm) :

      I like that, and as a parent, I feel it is an important detail!

    4. The Editor wrote (on 04/04/18 at 4:42 pm) :

      Indeed, it’s understandably quite important to many people.

    5. Sue Ford wrote (on 04/04/18 at 4:38 pm) :

      In many fantasies I’ve read pregnancy protection is talked about with charms. I think it depends on your world.

    6. The Editor wrote (on 04/04/18 at 4:42 pm) :

      Fabulous suggestion for fantasies, Sue. Thanks for sharing it.

    7. Teasha Seitz wrote (on 04/16/18 at 10:32 am) :

      As always the editor gives good advice!

    8. The Editor wrote (on 04/16/18 at 10:35 am) :

      Thanks, Teasha.

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