The young adult years are filled with wondrous and magical new moments, including first jobs, first time driving, and first time falling in love. It’s a time of figuring out what you like in a person, what “type” of boyfriend or girlfriend works well with your personality, and of course, it’s also a time of learning what types of relationships fail. It can be difficult for a teenager to experience love and then lose it, or to act on feelings that are not returned. In short, this is a period of time where hormones rock the boat and emotions and romance are in the spotlight.
In writing YA novels, it’s often important, for a well-rounded teen experience, to include your main character’s feelings about romance. While it doesn’t have to be centralized in the story unless it’s a romance novel or a novel with strong romantic elements, there should be some mention of where your teen falls when it comes to the rollercoaster of romance. This is important for many reasons, so let’s take a look at why your teen protagonist should kiss and tell in a story.
1. Romantic feelings are normal for teens
The teen years are a time of raging hormones and moving from child to adult. It’s normal for teenagers to have strong feelings for the same or the opposite sex, and to act on those feelings or at least feel their tug strongly. Writing these feelings normalizes your teen protagonist, gives the reader an extra something to root for in the story, and can even add an extra layer of tension in the novel.
2. Your reader wants to know!
Teenagers read YA and share the same feelings as your protagonist. If you introduce a love interest or even a back-burner crush, your teen reader is going to want to know where this leads! It will pique your readers’ interest, and they will want to know every detail as curious readers with shared sensations. They also might want to know how your teen handles their crush so they can gather ideas on how they can address this in their own lives. If they are declined in love, for example, it might help to see how your protagonist handles being turned down.
3. Love makes for poetic writing
Something takes over when writing love scenes. As a writer, when your teen has their very first kiss in a story, you’ll suddenly want to add shining silver moonlight, red roses, white swans, and scents of flowers and chocolate. Well, maybe you won’t go to this extreme, but it’s definitely a good time to expand your writing wings and add in some poetic imagery.
4. Your main character is a human with real emotions to share
Readers want to connect with your main character, and most readers connect best when they can identify with real feelings and situations. In the Twilight novels, protagonist Bella Swan lets the reader in on her private feelings after her breakup with vampire Edward Cullen, and the teen reader understands those empty feelings and those moments of crying and despair. If you want a reader to connect, have your main character tell all without holding back.
5. The girlfriend, boyfriend, or crush can bring out new character traits in your protagonist
This is an important one. In my own writing, I never feel I truly know a character until I know how they love. The love interest often acts as a reflector, and through them your teen might understand more about themselves and share that with the reader. This is the person your teen tells all their secrets to, and the person that will hopefully strengthen them and lift them.
For tips on writing using a romance plot structure, visit my blog post: