[I'm totally admitting here that this is a rehash of a blogpost I wrote last summer. I'm on page 163 of a 300 page revision that is due tomorrow morning, and if I don't get it done, life as I know it will probably end. On the other hand, as I'm about to launch an awesome new YA boy named Griffon on reading teens, it's a subject that's been on my mind.]
Are YA boys bad for real teen girls? This is a question that I've been thinking about lately. On some of the writer's boards there have been threads about how the boys in YA aren't anything like real boys. Some people call them chicks-with-(rhymes with chicks and I can't actually say it on this blog). You know the ones - the boys who are sensitive, handsome, strong, protective and intensely in love with our heroines. They don't burp or fart or fight constantly, answer complicated questions with 'huh?' or play video games excessively (as the only one in my house missing a Y chromosome, I know of what I speak). They pay attention to our girls, write them notes and texts and fulfill all of their romantic dreams. Even the 'dangerous' YA boys have a lot of these qualities that make the girls swoon. I should know - I'm guilty of writing boys like that myself.
I started thinking about this more during a recent Twitter chat. A teen girl was in on the chat and she mentioned that she didn't date real boys because they didn't stand up to the fictional boys she was always reading about. That made me intensely sad. I wanted to shake her and shout 'these boys don't exist - they're completely fictional!' Because once she is done reading about the fake boys that only exist in our heads, she's going to have to go out into the real world and deal with boys that don't necessarily measure up.
And that's where I feel guilty. In order to write the stories that make the girls swoon, we have to write boys who are not exactly like the boy next door. Our readers aren't going to go to school and find one of these guys hanging out at the lunch tables. Are we okay with this? Is it a form of false advertising? I don't know.
Maybe all YA books (especially paranormal romances) should come with a warning label: Caution.! The boys in this book are more fictional than they appear.