Making Love Real in YA Novels

Mary Kole has a great post today about love and relationships in YA novels. She mentions how it’s easy to make these relationships all about physical attraction. Obviously physical attraction needs to be part of it, but it should be grounded in an emotional connection as well. Teen readers understand what it feels like to find someone hot, but they also understand having inside jokes and bonding over the same band. These things should be present in a fictional YA romance, too.

She also has some great advice for writers working on a YA romance:

“Go back to every scene where your romantic leads interact. For every physical description, insert a thought about the present or future or a characterizing detail for the other character. Give us a bit of playful dialogue that shows us, rather than tells us, how the characters get along as people who are creating a bond. Don’t settle for attraction in the physical sense. Give us the moment when they fall in love–truly in love–on the page. We all know this instant, when our entire thinking shifts and things become magic. The impossible seems possible. Those stinky feet suddenly don’t matter.

Love and attraction are also about action (er, not that kind quite yet). We behave differently toward our beloveds than we do toward anyone else. Love makes us selfless, crazy, impulsive, brave, vulnerable. How do your character’s actions toward their crushes change as the relationship progresses? How do those actions change the characters? The relationship? Make sure that every plot point and action between your lovers resonates emotionally to either build or break down (the course of true love never did run smooth) your Romeo and Juliet as people. This is all part of building that common relationship history.”

Going to go through my manuscript with this in mind. I don’t think it’s totally focused on the physical, but it’s easy to reference those killer cheekbones and not all the other adorable things people do when they’re in love (or at least like).

(image: Eric M Martin)

0 thoughts on “Making Love Real in YA Novels

  1. hannahkarena says:

    I think The Scorpio Races did an AMAZING job of building a romantic relationship with, essentially, none of the physical shortcuts. I wanted the book to keep going just so I could read more about them being in love. That kind of love and romance–those fictional relationships–stick with you and readers remember them in ways they’ll never recall strictly physical, lustful fictional relationships.

    • anniecardi says:

      VERY much agree. I think it helps when the people involved (like in The Scorpio Races) have interests that aren’t being in love. Bloodthirsty sea horses just add to the romantic awesomeness!

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