The problem with this title is that it implies I don't always like sex and that's what I'm going to write about.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
Anyway, you're here. Don't leave. This is about sex. Just not mine. Not really.
Lately, I'm sure you've noticed an increase in the number of YA books featuring sex. All kinds of sex. The quiet, fade to black kind. The slightly more risqué, let-us-see-the-clothes-coming-off-kind. And the naughty you-could-possibly-still-be-a-technical-virgin-but-you're-hardly-innocent-anymore kind.
And really, it's probably a fairly accurate portrayal of what teens are doing these days. It's not nearly as taboo of a subject as it used to be.
But here's the thing. While lots of teens are doing it, whether in love, in lust, in apathy, or in drunk...not every teen is doing it. There are lots of teens who make the choice not to. Even when they're in love. Imagine that.
So. My point. Yes. My point.
I think it's okay if YA books don't have sex in it, too. I don't think it makes it any less of a book--any less interesting or exciting or can't-put-it-downable. I don't think it's necessarily less realistic either. I know, depending on the characters. But just because a person seems like he/she should/would/could have sex, doesn't mean he/she is.
The fact is, you can make anything work. Just like anyone can choose to have sex, I think any character can choose not to have sex. It's not an obligation. Even if they've had sex before. Or are majorly lusty. A choice is a choice is a choice. Just have to make it realistic and true.
Sometimes I think writers feels compelled/pressured to put sex into their stories because, well damn, it's hot. Right?
But here's what I think. Books without sex can be mega sexy. Like dripping hot sexy. Think about it. What's hotter? Nakedness? Or This?
There is so much tension in that. Beautiful spanking hot tension.
And when you close the deal? Tension GONE. Goodnight. Roll over and go to sleep (essentially). And if this is the first book of the series? Well. It's tough (but not impossible) to maintain that kind of tension with a romance.
There are two rules I adhere to in my writing. Well, lots actually, but two main ones.
1. STAKES MUST ALWAYS INCREASE.
2. TENSION MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER.
Now, having sex can and often does increase the stakes. And can do the same for tension, actually. But it has to make sense for the story. And for crying out loud, don't make your book babies have sex for the sake of it. They've got like 80 years ahead of them to go at it. If it works, as in, raises the stakes and actually adds to the tension, then BY ALL MEANS HAVE SEX. But the expectation should not be there. A teen romance is a teen romance, not an adult one (essentially). Let's keep in mind some of the fundamental issues of teenagedom. I'm talking CURIOSITY. WONDER. DISCOVERY. DRAMA. There's a certain beauty to this.
There are all sorts of ways to incorporate these issues into your stories, including in YA books with sex. But oh man, the lead-up. The dance. The slow discovery. That. It cannot be measured. It cannot be regained.
TWILIGHT SPOILER ALERT BUT NOT REALLY BECAUSE THIS IS MOSTLY AIMED AT PEOPLE WHO READ IT OR WHO WON'T READ IT (Bear with me. I'm making a point.)
If you read it, do you remember how after you read Twilight, you were like, "OMG why didn't they have sex?" And then the second book you were like, "Seriously? Come ON." By book four? You were practically insane, dripping sweat with WAITING. Come on Meyer, you said to yourself. Whatever you thought of the writing or the plot or the characters or whatever. You remember? The pillow? The feathers went flying? Bella's headboard broke and you were jumping on your bed? YES YES YES! Right along with Bella?
Yeah. That's a good reason to wait.
HOLY HOT BUILD-UP MELT-INTO-A-PUDDLE SATISFACTION.
(Seriously? If you're a good enough writer, you can do this with a kiss. Hello, HARRY POTTER with a hot kiss FINALLY a bajillion books later.)
Or, you know. Don't wait. Sex isn't the end-all and be-all. Lots of cool things come before/during/after/instead of sex that may or may not have anything to do with sex.
Will my characters have sex?
Blink. Blink. Blink.