Friday, September 12, 2008

standard teen-read stuff

Yesterday, there were great discussions on seaheidi’s blog and an excellent post by jenlyn_b on Stephen King’s comment that the term “Young Adult” is an oxymoron, in his review of THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. I won’t rehash that here because it was done so well already (go check it out!), but I did want to talk about a different point from his review.

“The love triangle is fairly standard teen-read stuff; what 16-year-old girl wouldn't like to have two interesting guys to choose from?”

I would have to argue that a love triangle is standard entertainment stuff, used in movies, TV, and books (adult as well as YA). The love triangle is as standard as “boy meets girl.” There’s no reason it can’t and shouldn’t be used in any form of entertainment, as long as it’s done well and fits the story and the characters.

If there is a higher percentage of it in YA (and I’m not sure there is), then I think it’s because at that age, not only are there more choices and chances for love, but love is also new, and navigating the waters and deciding who is right for you is not easy. Books are just another avenue of experiencing love and choosing whom to love by living through the experiences of the characters in the story.

Just like adults, teens have a variety of responses to love and the possibility of love. Some teens may think that the person they are dating or crushing on is the only one out there for them, and they will be forever in love, even though evidence around them (friends breaking up, former relationships not working out, or even parents divorcing) shows that it’s usually otherwise … just like adults. Other teens may think love is not possible, or worth it, after a breakup or after seeing what the dissolution of love has done to those around them … just like adults.

So if teens can react to love like adults, then why can’t they have storylines that reflect this, without it being called “standard teen-read stuff?”

What do you all think about “standard teen-read stuff” and tired themes like the love triangle?

On a related note, I’d like to thank Stephen King for inspiring me to think of a kick-a**, killer, love triangle story. Now all I have to do is write it and make it not seem like a cliché, which brings me to JoNoWriMo! My goals are to write and illustrate something every weekday, with bonus points if I work on the weekend. The main thing is to get myself to keep moving forward on both art and writing projects.

With these goals, I'll work on both art and writing every day, even if it's just a little bit. I won't feel guilty about writing if I have a mostly art day and I won't feel guilty about art if I have a mostly writing day.

I’m not going to force the big goals, but I’d also like to get specific illustration projects done (a PB dummy and art licensing collections) and at least 1 draft of a YA novel (right now I can't decide which idea is pulling at me the most, but it may have to have a love triangle in it).