Sex In Young Adult Books

When I wrote BEYOND THE EYES, I was wondering how I should write the sex scenes. What was appropriate and what was crossing the line?

Before I go on, there may be spoilers in this post.

You have been warned.

My main character Paige, gets sexually involved with Nathan, rather quickly. She’s not a slut or anything. In fact, she was a virgin, however, she couldn’t deny her feelings for Nathan. I knew though, as I wrote this book that some people wouldn’t buy the whole love-at-first-sight deal. But I left it there anyway because it does exist and can happen. I know because it happened to me back in January of 1994. I did wonder though, how I should tastefully write the sex scenes. I then thought about the popular teen shows on TV and reflected back to when I was a teenager. I also thought about the romance novels that wrote stuff like, ‘He put his throbbing love muscle into my dripping honeypot.’

Um, no.

There’s no way I’ll ever write something like that because it’s ridiculously funny and cheesy that when I read something like that it always makes me giggle.

Call me immature, but it is what it is.

So I had to be creative in writing the sex scenes and not be too explicit. I had to write it in such a way to where my readers could fill in the blanks with their own imagination. But then I wondered, would that be supporting promiscuity among teens? I mean, shouldn’t I be standing on the pulpit promoting abstinence instead?


But the truth is, teens are having sex and with the technology we have nowadays, they’re constantly exposed to anything and everything that has to do with it.

When I was growing up we didn’t have the internet and computers weren’t prevalent in every household. Hell, we didn’t even have cell phones. If we wanted to send a message to somebody we wrote a note and would slyly pass it in class to that person. Instead of having the internet to look up sexual content, we had Playboy or Playgirl. We also had the VCR and HBO, which meant easy access to porn.

The point is, even back then without the technology we have today, teens knew about sex and were having it. Even the movies back then, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, didn’t hide the fact that teens were doing it.

So as a writer in the YA genre, I had to come to terms with the whole "sex issue."

Should I leave it out and not promote it and turn a blind eye to the fact that teens are having sex? Or, should I keep it real and trust my teen readers to be levelheaded enough in their own lives to make the right decisions for themselves?

I decided to trust my teen readers and to write each sex scene modestly, even though they can click on the TV and see teens having dirty, monkey sex.

No. I wouldn’t ever take it to that extreme when writing in the YA genre. If I was writing erotica, yeah, but not in a book about teens.

So to sum it all up, I don’t see any harm–if it’s done tastefully–in writing about older teenagers having sex.