“You’re never gonna stop all the teenage leather and booze…”

24 01 2010

The title of this post comes from the song “Teenage Riot” by Sonic Youth.

Over the years I’ve written quite a few stories involving young adults. No matter how hard I try, I can’t write them without some mention of drugs or drinking or sex or without cursing. I’ve tried to write teenagers in a cleaner way, much like “Harry Potter” or some of the other popular fantasy young adult novels that are so popular today, but it always ends up feeling false and just plain wrong. It seems dishonest somehow to ignore reality even though I am writing fiction.

Like it or not, modern teenagers do things like have sex, they do drugs, they curse. If you don’t believe me, just sit on a bench at your local mall and watch the teenagers interact with each other.
Here are my questions for those of you who write stories for young adults:

1) How do you decide when/if to include some of these controversial realities into your prose? 
2) How much is too much? Is there such thing as too much? (I’ve read quite a few modern YA novels that blew my mind with their frank and graphic depictions of various aspects of modern society — more so in the realist fiction genres than in fantasy or science fiction, of course.)

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