Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Violence in Young Adult Fiction

Hey, guys! I'm in the middle of William Bernhardt's Level III Small Group Writing Seminar and it's crazy intense. It's also the first time anyone aside from my editor has seen the more violent scenes in my book, and it has been interesting to say the least.

Whenever anyone talks about violence in the YA genre, most people immediately think of The Hunger Games. After all, what could be more violent than putting 24 teenagers into an arena and telling them to slaughter each other? But in many ways, The Hunger Games does a good job (at least in the first book) of having most of the violence be off-camera.

In my book, it isn't. It's up close and personal. It's intimate. And, yes, it is pretty graphic. The violent scenes weren't easy to write and they shouldn't be easy to read. I'm not condoning torture; I'm condemning it. I want my torture scenes to be harsh and realistic. Torture shouldn't be candy-coated.

My very wise teacher started a discussion about this in our class today. Is my book too violent for YA?

Overall, the answer was no. Yes, it's horribly violent. Yes, it's traumatic. But no, that shouldn't stop it from being considered YA.

Some people may not be able to handle the violence, and that's okay. I definitely don't think anyone younger than High School age should read it. But I'm not going to change it. It's part of the book. A very dark, terrifying part, but integral nonetheless. And I know people are going to tell me to change it, but part of being an author is standing behind your work.

What are your thoughts on violence in the Young Adult genre?

1 comment:

  1. I've been concerned about the level of violence in my novel as well. Once I got my main character into the Inferno, it felt like my book got so much darker and more frightening. I actually freak myself out sometimes when I write at night. But I think your teacher is right. The world can be a dark place, and while violence in YA novels isn't for everyone, that doesn't mean that some kids can't handle it. I read Slaughterhouse 5 in the sixth grade, and I turned out okay (although it did make me seriously anti-war).