Posted by: nancyisanders | March 6, 2013

Genre: Teen Romance, Part 1


The focal point of every child’s world is love. As an infant, this love centers on family, especially mommy or daddy. In the toddler years, this circle widens to include genuine love for a blankie or favorite teddy bear. By early elementary age, children love their buddies and best pals. And as they grow up through the preteen and teenage years, even though family and friends still hold the key to their hearts, it’s the natural progression of the maturation process for middle graders and young adults to reach toward adulthood and the idea of getting married. Just as toy make-up kits are replaced with lipstick and rouge, fairytale picture books with castles, a princess, and Prince Charming are replaced with teen novels.

This genre works most effectively if you want to write for the young adult (YA) market rather than books or stories for younger readers. Young adult novels are geared for a target age of teenage readers who are 13 to 19 years old. Hence “teen” romance. These are the years when many kids become interested—seriously interested—in each other and discover the emotional rollercoaster called love. Many of them turn to reading teen romances because it’s a safer way to explore and learn about these new emotions they’re feeling instead of climbing on the rollercoaster itself.

Even though you can have romance in a middle grade (MG) novel, chapter book, or magazine story for younger readers, it usually takes the role of a universal theme that’s developed through a subplot within the category of a different genre such as mystery or science fiction. For younger readers, romance often takes the form of a first crush or puppy love rather than a fully developed romance, simply because most readers twelve years old or younger aren’t interested or even aware of serious romance. And if they are, chances are they’ll choose YA novels to read where the characters are slightly older than themselves. Because there isn’t a strong audience for romance in younger readers, many publishers stick with the genre of teen romance in the YA market.

In a teen romance, a significant event in the plot occurs when the princess and her prince charming meet. Or, if they already know each other, this event occurs when they first become aware of each other at a more significant level. It can be love at first sight or they can start out as enemies, but there needs to be a problem they have to struggle with that will either bring them closer together or drive them farther apart. Throughout the middle of the story, they can deal with love’s ups and downs as their relationship deepens and they become more intricately intertwined with each other. Few teen romances actually end in marriage since the characters, after all, are still teenagers, but endings in a teen romance can be anything from tragic to bittersweet to hopeful with the promise of a committed and love-filled relationship.

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