I came across a blog the other day that caught my attention.
The author was wondering if YA books require an element of romance in them in order to sell. She was bemoaning the fact that it seems that in some YA books, the protagonist doesn’t come into her own until she explores a relationship with a ‘significant other’, thus making her a whiny, co- dependent MC. (I think we can all think of one MC off the top of our heads that matches THAT description, right?)
The thing is… I don’t think that those two things are mutually exclusive. In real life, falling in love doesn’t necessarily mean becoming co-dependent and whiny. So, why do so many MC’s seem to fall into that trap? I don’t know. And I guess that is a huge topic that should be addressed in a later entry.
As for the coming-into-her-own thing… well, unfortunately, in real life, girls learn about themselves by experience. This includes learning our own strengths and weaknesses– some of which we learn through our experiences with significant others. How do we know how far we can bend until someone tests our boundaries? By interactingwith others. It’s all part of growing up.
But coming back to my original question- Do YA books require Romance? My answer is… I think that… Yes, they do. Most of the time.
Why? Because of our target audience, obviously. What does the normal teenage girl think about a great deal of the time? Boys. Love. Butterflies-in-the-stomach Romance. So obviously, books targeted to them should include an element of that in order to snag and hold their attention… otherwise, they will put it down and seek out another book that has what they want.
There are exceptions, of course. There are action books, high fantasy books, etc, that are clearly not outlined with love in mind. And they each have their own fan base. But in my humble opinion, the average teeange girl is at various times hormonal, moody, in love, in a break-up, crushing on someone, etc… and they want an MC who can identify with those things. And that, friends, is why YA Romance sells.
There is no shame in that. And as promised, we’ll discuss whiny, weak, co-dependent MC’s in a later post.