Thursday, May 21, 2009

Positive YA Fiction - Guest Blogger L. Diane Wolfe

YA is one of the few genres showing strong growth in the book market. While that is great news, it's important to consider the content our young adults are reading. Welcome YA author L. Diane Wolfe to the blog. She's here to help us understand what writers can do to impact this important group of readers in positive ways.
The Need for Positive YA Fiction

To understand the current state of YA fiction, one has only to view that section in the bookstore. Nestled among the fantasy and light fluff are many negative and salacious titles. Today’s youth face challenges unique to their generation and their reading material reflects this troubling trend. To balance this onslaught, it is vital that they receive a dose of hope and optimism.

The tone of YA titles has changed greatly in the past few years. Many of these books cover subjects such as drugs, sex, child abuse, and rape. Characters are portrayed as sexual deviants and self-abusers, and many possess mean-spirited and selfish traits. Inappropriate behavior is even presented as perfectly acceptable in many of these books. The messages teens receive are dark, depressing and often misleading.

Our world has changed and it is foolish to believe young adults do not encounter such situations and choices in life. However, that is a lot of negativity to dump on an impressionable young mind. A teen’s brain is still developing at this point, and the resulting impaired judgment leaves that person vulnerable to suggestion. Young adults already feel the pressure to fit in and struggle with self-image issues. Do they really need such discouraging and negative messages as those found in many YA books?

Rather than contribute to the problem, YA fiction should uplift and provide hope! More books should offer morally grounded stories that do not promote deviant or illegal behavior. There needs to be consequences for characters who partake in underage sex or illegal drugs, just as there are in the real world. We owe it to our youth to help them understand values and what it means to do the right thing.

Equally important, teens need positive reinforcement. With all the negative residing in the world today, young adults need to know there is hope. Despite their problems or current situation, a better life is available. An uplifting storyline might be the only thing that inspires a teen to keep moving forward despite the obstacles. Young adults need encouragement, to realize that they are worthy. Books containing a positive message, rather than negative, will influence their future in a meaningful way.

As the author of a YA series, The Circle of Friends, I want to inspire and uplift. It is important that I also balance this message with realistic storylines and interesting characters. I find this possible without delving into the negative and salacious or creating a preachy tale. By instilling some values into my characters, I am able to portray healthy relationship dynamics and struggles with positive outcomes.

Enough negative resides in the world without dumping even more into the minds of young people. Controversy and negative may sell, but as demand for cleaner, more positive books rises, that scenario can change. Through author responsibility, parental involvement, and exposing young adults to the right material, we can send a positive message!

- Author and professional speaker, L. Diane Wolfe


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you for hosting me!

L. Diane Wolfe

Marvin D. Wilson said...

I'm with you on this excellent article and viewpoint, Diane. They say of the mind, "garbage in, garbage out." YA lit should be instilling values and full of inspirational messages, shaping a generation to come that will go on to do great things.

Unfortunately, kids grow up so fast these days and are jaded at such a young age, many by age 14 are already addicted to sensationalism and graphic depictions of the ugly things of the world. Glad to know you are fighting to stem against the tide.

The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

Heidiwriter said...

"With all the negative residing in the world today, young adults need to know there is hope."

I agree wholeheartedly, Diane. And that's what I've tried to do with my book as well. I hope that kids will latch on to books like ours.


©DGreer said...

I am so with you on this. Is it really so bad for kids to have a bit less realism, and more good things to read? Maybe even some innocence? I'm not sure I can think of a better gift for a child than protecting them from all the reality in modern life.

Great tour, Diane! Keep us apprised of the next one, you blog book tour devil, you. LOL.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! Sometimes I feel as if I'm fighting a losing battle, but I refuse to compromise!

L. Diane Wolfe

Charlotte Phillips said...

Great stuff - and I agree wholeheartedly. I'm glad to know another healthy choice is now available on those shelves.


orcalover said...

As a father of three kids and the grandfather of a fantastic young lady, I totally agree. That is why all my writing is g rated only. It's also the reason for the Amanda stories and soon Amanda book.

Great post, I'm adding you to my blogroll.

Koala Bear Writer said...

You're on the right track here, Diane!!! I was an avid reader as a teen, and I can think of a couple books that I shouldn't have read. Youth definately need good novels - ones that show them reality, but also show truth, beauty, love, etc. This is a great challenge to us as writers to write novels that will engage and instruct our youth. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you for the blogroll add!

And I read a lot of stuff I shouldn't have read as a teen, such as V.C.Andrews at the age of 13 - not good!

L. Diane Wolfe