Tuesday, May 5, 2009

YA question

Just kinda thinking out loud here (figuratively) -- I'm about 100 pages into my MS, and I'm about to start a section of my story where my two main characters steal a motorcycle from the bad guys and take off on a cross country adventure. I picture them on the motorcycle -- two dudes -- and it just doesn't gel for me.

Then I had a thought: "Hey, why not make the bad boy into a bad girl?"

The advantage: it would add a tantalizing new dimension to this character, not to mention bolster some authenticity issues I'm having with their relationship.

The problem: the 'new dimension' would look something like sexual tension.

I know it's supposed to be okay to be gritty and real. Teenagers deal with this kind of stuff everyday. I'm just not that comfortable writing about it cuz I can't get past the idea that it's akin to encouraging it. But on the other hand, I can feel it in the artsy/writey part of my heart -- it's what's right for this story.

Thoughts anybody?


Sarah J Clark said...

Are you for real?

You're character is BEGGING for a sex change and you're refusing?


LET IT GO, dude.

Give him a sex change already!

As for the sexual tension. They don't have to be on the verge of making out every ten seconds. It doesn't have to be glorified or encouraged. Just make it real.

Be authentic. Your readers will appreciate that.

As for a bad!@$ chick on a motorcycle? Now that's hawt.

Go with it.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Ooh. Tough spot. One of three possibilities: 1) Keep the other character a boy and make it a car.
2) Keep the other character a boy and make it a motorcycle with a side car (not that far out--I saw several of them at a Christian motorcycle rally a few years ago). 3) Turn the character into a girl and handle the resulting physical proximity tension indirectly, even playfully if you can.

Kelly Polark said...

So do you mean you are changing the main characters or the bad guys they steal the motorcycle from? (Sorry, I'm tired, and can't think straight today...)
If it is the bad guys, definitely okay to change it to bad boy/bad girl on the one motorcycle.
But if it is main characters, that will change arc of whole story, so just be sure you want that for your characters. And if so, go for it!
I usually don't see two guys riding on one motorcycle together, but if you are on the run, you do what you gotta do.
And I wouldn't worry about sexual tension if you make one character a girl. Teens have tension.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Ray, Um, you answered your own question: "-- it's what's right for this story." Hugs, Debbie

Unknown said...

The image of the sidecar makes me giggle. Perhaps you could make the character that sits in it a wise-cracking midget.

Madison said...

I like the idea of a boy and a girl. Granted you do get that sexual tension, but a few tricks with the right words can make that melt away. Also, if you don't want a romance between them, then maybe they could be the brother and sister they always wanted.

Just my $0.02. :)

Anita said...

No (!) to the two guys on a motorcyle (unless they're Dumb and Dumber). I like the idea of the bad girl chick. Interesting thought to my own YA days...I actually was willing to be a little more aggressive than a couple guys I dated, if you know what I mean. It would be fun to have her pushing a bit in that direction and having the guy resist and slow her down (I know it sounds like it doesn't happen, but it does). If I were you, I'd look at YA fiction that's worked well with Boy/Girl sexual tension issues and see how those authors handled where lines should be drawn. I liked the end-of-book make-out scenes in AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES.

Danielle said...

I've got to agree with the majority of the opinions here - if it feels right for the story, make the bad boy into a bad girl. You don't have to make a huge deal about sexual tension if you don't want to - again, do what's right for the story. Sometimes you can have a boy and a girl in the same room and they won't have sex. Really. I swear.

Serena Woods said...

I haven't read the other comments, but I really like the idea of making it a girl guy theme. There are a couple of ways to look at it, so I'll think out loud, too...

1) you may not be in tune with sexual tension between two men, so your book, as is, may have it and you're not aware of it. The best way to figure this out is to see what happens when you change one character into a girl (which you've experienced) and, now that you can identify with it, you see it.

2) It's my opinion that when you don't acknowledge the reality of life in a story that is, otherwise, based on reality, then you fail to truly connect with reality. You fail to connect with your audience. You tell a story, but because it's missing basic internal and uncontrollable elements, you hold your readers at arms length. I wouldn't think that letting your characters have honest elements in their lives would encourage behaviour that you want to avoid. It just shows that you don't have an agenda. Use your desires to show how people can make good choices even with temptation or whatever the tension manifests.

sorry if this is too wordy and i hope it helps. :)


VeeFlower said...

Definitely do the boy/girl, it adds so much more possibility and other kinds of tension.One way you could handle it is the girl likes the boy, but he is clueless...you could avoid the make out scene for a long time, the boy character could grow into his feelings for her, etc. Besides, ask about any teen girl, some boys have to be hit over the head with an anvil to "get it." Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

My only observation is this: If you stick with two boys on one motorcycle going cross country, you've probably stopped writing a YA book and started writing literary fiction that happens to be about young adults, you'll have to do all kinds of intricate tapdancing with their relationship, and you'll either end up winning an award or falling flat on your face.

Other than that, I don't write YA and I don't read it much, so I'm useless...

Ray Veen said...

And so I choose sexual tension.

She's not into wimpy guys, he thinks she's downright scary, so I have no plans for them to 'hook up'.

But we'll see what happens after he rides hundreds of miles with his arms around her waist, and at the end of the road, they're forced to share a tent.

Outstanding advice, everybody. It seems thinking out loud pays off. At least when people overhear you, then happen to have useful input.

Tracey said...

Jumping in late here (again!) I agree with the sex change. I like the way you describe the characters - he, wimpy - she, scary - could lead to some interesting dynamics. Sexual tension is normal with teens, so why avoid it? That said, you can show your readers that feeling the tension doesn't necessarily mean that you have to or should act on it (might actually add to the realism and how your readers relate to the story).

Keri Mikulski said...

I think one of the hardest parts of writing - letting go.. Go for it! If that's were your characters are going - then, write it! :)

Carrie Harris said...

I remember your comment from my old manny, something like: "Eeeew! Kissing!" But if it's right for the story...

Aw, who am I kidding? You've already got great advice, I just want to tease you.


Jewel Allen said...

Oh, come on, Ray!

You hafta give EACH of them a motorcycle! And add some tension from the fact that she leaves him in the dust a lot. Or tries to lose him in traffic. Or always stopping on impulse for a sno-cone.

Or something troublesome like that.

She's a girl he's known all his life and he wants to protect her but she won't let him.