First, read this: Sex in YA Fiction.
I have a comment on that post where I say this:
I remember my first ‘truly intense’ sexual act with vivid clarity – and though the lead up to the act was all emotion – once the physical sensations started it was ALL about the physical. In fact, if someone had interrupted and asked my name I would have been unable to tell them. The physical was THAT powerful.
I think we sometimes color what we write or what we read with an adult sense of prudery. As older humans, we have weighed and balanced the sexual experience – we know the pluses and minuses – we understand the give and take. This was the number one problem with Twilight’s “I’m waiting” philosophy – there was FAR too much consideration going on.
Currently YA sex IS less graphic – but in a way, wouldn’t it be more honest if it was MORE graphic – or at least more focused on those crazy explosive physical feelings?
I realize this is a sensitive subject, so I have spent the day pondering and this is what I have come up with:
I think YA writers should try and remember the sensations of ‘first love’ in the physical. For example, I remember the first time someone kissed me on the neck. I felt it on my neck, but I also remember the feelings shooting down my arm; I remember the marked tingling of my fingers and a delicious tickle in the small of my back where his fingers rested. It made me giggle, and squirm and desire to be kissed there again. It created a hunger unlike anything I had previously experienced. This is the type of physical detail that can be added to YA sex, without upping the ‘erotic’ quotient of the writing.
I wonder at the tendency to self-censor our writing. If it was not inappropriate for me to feel those tingles at age 16, then why should it be inappropriate to write about it? And if we think it is inappropriate but we are writing about it anyway, isn’t it coy to measure the language?
In the end run, I say this: If you are writing sex into your YA novel – be honest. Describe the physical sensations as well as the emotional ones. Remember what it felt like the first time you touched someone, and the first time you were touched. Do not view the scene through adult eyes, but through the eyes of your teen-aged characters. If you do this, your ‘sex scene’ will come off as natural and not gratuitous.