Before I begin my rant, let me just say if you haven’t read Chuck Wendig’s work, you’re missing out on some uber-fantastic writing. Hands down, Miriam Black is THE BEST MC ever. Ever. Wendig… man, that guy’s a frickin’ word God. Seriously. Check out his website http://terribleminds.com/, too. His blog is probably the best writer’s blog out there.
So, rant. While trolling through the reviews for Under the Empyrean Sky, Wendig’s first young adult novel, I came across some comments that irritated me. Mainly the comments came from parents who didn’t like Wendig’s use of profanity or his teenage MC having sex—which, by the way, is off screen, so chill out.
Since when did teenagers quit swearing or having sex?
Here’s my question: Should writers write to the approval of those parents who somehow forgot their teenage years, or should they create realistic, relatable characters their target audience can connect with?
Come on, people! To me, the answer’s simple. Not one teenager I know—and I have two bonafide teenage girls living right here, in this house!—has ever enjoyed reading a book that spends three hundred pages talking down to them while trying to teach a “valuable” lesson.
What do I think they enjoy, you ask? You didn’t? Imma tell you anyway. They want stories about people like them, or at least people who are feeling some of the same stuff.
Yes, people like them. I’m not talking about the people parents think their teens are. You following? I’m talking about who teens are when not sitting around the dinner table. You know, the real people with a messy, screwed-up beautiful core underneath all that fake lacquer they use as camouflage. And guess what, parents? They swear, think about sex… think about all kinds of stuff they don’t tell you about. Trust me, they’re doing you a favor.
So thank them, please. Do it now. And then let them read about, watch, and listen to people who they can relate to—people who let them know they’re not alone. If you do, one day, I guarantee, they’ll be thanking you.
So, what’s your opinion? Agree? Want to tell me I’m nuts? Leave a comment and let’s chat about it.