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Writing Romance for Young Adults

First of all, my main area of interest is fantasy; however, I think most stories are better with a little romance sprinkled in.  The problem is that I primarily write novels for young adults, and I’ve been struggling with incorporating romance on an age appropriate level.

Like most writers, I read a number of books in my genre, and for the most part, I find myself drawn to romances where the main character eventually “chooses” the nice guy or girl.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I want the young people who read these books to get a sense of a healthy relationship, and I can’t seem to read a novel with a destructive relationship and not wonder at how the story is influencing young people.  That’s not to say I don’t increase the tension in my stories from that of real life relationships (hey, it is fiction after all), but I want to be proud of the message I’m sending to young minds.

With all of this said, I’m finding it difficult to walk this line between creating an age appropriate relationship and going over the top and creating a platonic friendship.  Because, unlike adult romances, I have to be very careful how much and how far the “physical” aspect of my young characters’ relationships go.  So, how do I create a romance when the physical actions must be used sparsely?  Here are some things I’m trying to keep in mind:

Tools to Create a Young Adult Romance:

  • Physical Actions and Reactions- with young adults, the type of physical actions and reactions are on an entirely different level than an adult romance, but still play an important part in building a relationship
  • Emotional Connections/Thoughts- this is just as important in young adult and adult romance.  Their thoughts and emotions have to develop in a believable way.
  • Dialogue- what is said is just as important as what is left unsaid, in young adult and adult romance
  • Settings- using setting to create tension and develop relationships are equally important in young adult and adult
  • Specific Details- using vague details can ruin any book, romance or not

All of these things are swirling around in my head as I write my book.  What do you think is important to keep in mind when writing a romance?  How do you think young adult romance differs from adult romance, in novels?

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