RTW: First You Get the Readers, Then You Get the Power

Writing Song of the Day: “If I Ruled the World” by Nas ftg. Lauren Hill

It’s time to go on another Road Trip with the lovely ladies of YA Highway. This week they ask: If you were made supreme ruler of of the publishing world, what would be your first ruling?


Quita and I had to do a lot of soul-searching for this question. In fact, the only power I’m used to is having control over the remote (yes, I do make Quita watch E! News Daily and other forms of celebrity gossip).

After a much heated debate that may or may not have included thumb wrestling, we finally decided our first ruling would be:

Thou shalt not give negative reviews due to foul language.

Apparently our reign requires Biblical jargon, but that’s besides the point. I’ve heard a few people buzz throughout the Internet that they’ve seen YA reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and other websites where people bash the book because the teen characters *gasp* swore.

Teenagers curse?

Next you’re going to tell us that they skip school, or smoke cigarettes, or *double gasp* have sex.

Let’s face reality. Not every adolescent is going to engage in the above activities, but it’s safe to say that many of them do. I work with middle schoolers, and I hear words from their mouths that would make our crazy, ex-con uncle even blush.

Adult readers need to realize that YA authors are simply reflecting the world around us through our characters. Not all of these characters will have potty mouths. In fact, I sounded like a dork whenever I tried to swear around my much cooler high school friends.

So sorry readers. Our characters will use profane language as long as it fits with the story. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to allow your kids to read it.

They’ll just hear it when they go to school the next day.

13 thoughts on “RTW: First You Get the Readers, Then You Get the Power

  1. Great point, I think it's key to realize that teenagers swear, A LOT. It's a great way to understand them as characters. Teens curse (IMHO) because they want to be accepted as adults (and adults in almost ALL movies cuss). At the same time, many are not mature enough to know that adults don't swear all the time, but instead may do it in very specific circumstances (i.e., not in front of the boss, but maybe when drinking wine with friends). So, it's not just that it's accurate, but it can tell you a lot about a teenag character. Great post!

  2. Sadly, I swore more in middle school and high school than I do now, as an adult. It's one of the more harmless ways of feeling ourselves out as we grow up. Don't get me wrong though. The moment a swear word comes out of my daughter's mouth, shit will hit the fan. Oops…

  3. LOVE. Never would have thought of that as a way to rule! Teens read books to learn, so why can't they learn about real life? Haha great post!

  4. Ladies- Thanks for all of the love and support on our awesome ruling. As Pam said, we work with teens and we KNOW this is how they talk and behave (believe me, they do not hide it from us)and we have to give them what they can relate to. Not everything is rainbows and candy…hmmm, candy…anyway, again thanks for the support!

  5. I fully agree!I'm always amazed at how people think their teenagers are somehow never going to come across swear words, as long as they just don't read them. Because everyone knows that high school students never ever swear ever.I still sound kind of dorky when I swear, incidentally.

  6. I must admit that I gasped at the language when I read one of your first pieces Pam (remember, I asked about it in Workshop?). But that was before I knew exactly what YA was and before you girls set me straight! lol Now that I'm more informed I'd have to say, great ruling!

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