Before we get on to the awesome guest post by Stacey, I wanted to let y’all know that the Red launch blog tour continues today at Word for Teens!
Take it Stacey!
Stacey Wallace Benefiel here. I’m the author of the YA Zellie Wells trilogy, the Day of Sacrifice series and The Toilet Business, a collection of essays. Many thanks to Kait for letting me invade her blog for a day.
With the publishing of Red, Kait became an author that writes for young adults as well as the adult set. Writing for these two age groups is something I know a little bit about and I thought I’d share how I do it.
Switching back and forth between YA and paranormal romance for adults isn’t as hard for me now as it was when I first started writing both at the same time. I was putting the finishing touches on Glimmer, the second Zellie book, when I started writing Day of Sacrifice.
At first, it was like my brain was both the mother and the daughter in Freaky Friday. The grown-up characters were saying Omigod way too frequently. They’d fall into crazy crushing first love LOVE too fast. I’d hesitate and worry over putting too much description in a sex scene, only to realize that getting to write a sex scene involving adult characters and not teenagers (and thus not feeling pervy about it) was supposed to be the fun part. I’d wanted to write something for adults so that I didn’t have to hold back.
Vice versa, I didn’t hold back enough in Glimmer and ended up getting complaints that I’d put too much description in one of the make-out scenes.
Oh Lord, if those people had read what I’d originally wrote!
Not wanting to be known as a YA porn pusher or the author of Amish paranormal romance, I developed a guideline:
The basics of storytelling are the same, but what gets edited out is different.
All writers give each of their characters a distinct voice, whether the characters are teens or adults. Getting into the headspace to write sixteen-year-old Zellie requires the same amount of work for me as getting into the headspace to write forty-five-year-old Cara Grant. So, while I’m writing them, I don’t worry about who my target audience is.
When it comes time to edit, that’s when I start making the differentiations.
* Cursing, drinking/smoking/drug use and sex are statements. There has to be a reason for teen characters to do these things for the first time. It’s a big deal.
*Slang is allowed to run rampant.
*Stupid mistakes should happen because that’s all part of growing up.
*Infatuation/lust/love – all the same thing.
In adult fiction:
*Cursing, drinking/smoking/drug use and sex are all things that adults have earned the right to do. There still needs to be a reason they’re doing them, but the reason can be “because they want to.”
*Slang has to be kept in check and age appropriate. An eighty-year-old woman is not going to say “Doh!” Adult characters usually have a couple of terms that stick with them from the teen years. These terms should be used sparingly.
*The characters have learned from their mistakes. Situations that are plausible for a teen, like endlessly fretting over if a cute guy likes you likes you and then making out with his best friend to see if he gets jealous, don’t hold up for adult characters.
*Love and saying, “I love you” should only happen after the character knows for sure that it’s not just infatuation/lust. Adults have been through it enough times to tell these emotions apart.
After I started keeping these rules in mind during edits, I found it was a lot easier for me to write YA and adult paranormal romance simultaneously.
Now if I could only come up with some rules to help me keep the different worlds I’ve created separate! 🙂
Stacey Wallace Benefiel is the author of the Zellie Wells trilogy, the Day of Sacrifice series and The Toilet Business, a collection of essays. She lives in an orange house in Beaverton, OR with her husband and their two young children. For more information on Stacey and her books: http://staceywallacebenefiel.com