Sex in Teen Books

Can there be sex in books for teens?

Yes, to a degree but please don’t describe.

I can hear the protests now. Teens have sex. Yes, that is a given. Some teens do engage in sex. They believe they are old enough and responsible enough to handle this act and often don’t consider the consequences of such an act.

Why then, you ask, do most publishers avoid sex in teenage books?

The answer to that is not as simple as it seems.

First, most teen books cover subjects parents and/or caretakers find tough for teens. One of the ironclad rules to writing a teen book is that you must sell to those people. They have the power to make or break your book, and they will stand up and cry foul if they think you’ve gone too far.

Secondly, as more than a few teens I’ve talked to on this subject will say. “Big deal. It’s sex. We know about it. It happens. We don’t need a road map.”

Seriously, they have told me in so many words that the best way to have sex in a teen book is not to have sex in a teen book. To them, it happens with some people. More than a few have said they know of someone who has done it, but all in all, they’re more interested in a well-crafted book that might have a budding romance, or a couple that have known each other for years becoming a more than friends.

As for anything physical that might come out of the relationship… well, let’s just say they’re calling out the old Charlie Rich song Behind Closed Doors. In other words, close the door and change the chapter.

Instead of sex in a teen novel, concentrate on the storyline. Enhance the plot or deepen your characters. Hint at what might happen in the future but don’t get graphic. Once that happens, you’ve crossed the line from a teen book to erotica. If your characters are under eighteen, it becomes kiddie porn and no one will touch it.

Your best bet as an author of teen books is to leave the sex to the imagination or not involve it at all.

About the K.C. Sprayberry

Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story. 

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