As some folks know, I’m currently working on a YA that continues to thrill me every time I put my fingers to the keyboard. However…I’ve been wondering if the cursing and the violence might be a tad too strong for some. And when I say some, I’m talking about adults.
Some people are of the PG school of thought where cursing should be kept to a bear minimum if any at all. No sex or violence either. I can get with the no-sex rule because I’m a strong believer in teens not having sex until they’re mature enough to handle the consequences. Then, you have those who are of the other school where realism means everything. They want the good, the bad, and the ugly. Though I could be wrong, I’m betting the majority of teens of the latter.
On a personal note, if I cull things that happened from my childhood it’s not rated PG or even PG-13. It had it’s moment, sure. Even the rated-G ones. But it also had rated-R moments that were scarier than hell and why I won’t have anything to do with certain family members to this day. When I look back, that decision turned out to be one of the best ones ever. Anyway, that’s my child/teenage-hood. Also, I started cursing when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I wasn’t stupid either. Those curse words NEVER came out in the presence of my family. Only my peers, where it was perfectly acceptable. That’s also a characteristic of my YA heroine.
So here’s the thing. I’m pitching my book toward a YA audience and not really taking into account what the parents want, even though I know parents are the ones with the cash. Sugarcoating the teenage life with a PG rating is fine, assuming that is what you grew up with. I didn’t.
Not only that, but I think you’re lying to yourselves if you think leaving things out like cursing and violence will teach your teen to be a better person. You have to bring yourself down to their level, if you want to make an impact in their lives and get them to listen to you. Just because parents would rather wear blinders to their kid’s activities or have an out-of-mind-out-of-sight approach, don’t assume your children are living in a paradise. They’re not. Ask the numerous pregnant teens, which I hear the percentages are on the rise. Ask those teens who’ve been addicted to drugs and alcohol. Ask those who’ve been molested, abused, or even raped. It happens. I’d rather deal with topics like that in a book than to sugarcoat and pretend like it never happened. Who knows? It might actually save someone’s life. Or, it might make them stronger when they’re faced with entering into our R-rated adult word.
What do you think? Even if you’ve never read a YA, are you of the school of realism or the one of censorship?