Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Writing Teen Romance: Mary’s Take On Growing Love, Organically

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On February - 1 - 2011

Valentine Day.africa 300x211 Writing Teen Romance: Mary’s Take On Growing Love, OrganicallyAhh, teen romance. What do I know about this subject? I am the girl who was voted “most likely to remain a virgin forever” by my 8th grade class. Fortunately, the scene improved for me somewhat in high school, and I learned that contrary to popular adult opinion, young people do have strong, mature, loving relationships — as well as hurtful and destructive ones. There are as many varieties of teen relationships as there are individual teens. I think my ugly duckling experience has given me the ability to understand the perspectives of both the outsider and the insider, the lonely character warped by his or her unrequited love, as well as the well-adjusted person exploring real affection for the first time.

That being said, I haven’t written a lot of romance story lines. Most of my work so far has been middle grade, action-based fantasy/sci-fi. I’ve felt that in those contexts, romance just wouldn’t be interesting. However, I am currently working on a teen sci-fi book that does involve a romance, and the challenge has been how to work emotionally resonant moments into the action. What’s the right balance between love and chase scenes? How much can the characters think about each other without the reader starting to snore? Does the action need to stop to accommodate feelings?

My favorite recent depiction of teen romance has to be Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver and its sequel, Linger. I love these books because both the supernatural elements and the romance elements are believable. Grace and Sam are well-rounded and intelligent, and their true love grows organically. At the same time, Sam’s life as a werewolf has realistic challenges, and the less-prominent characters add just the right amount of color and fullness to the central story. The romance works because it is part of a fully formed world that doesn’t fall prey to either human or supernatural caricatures.

If I ever decide to write a story about true love, I’ll try to follow Maggie Stiefvater’s lead. Until then, I’ll focus on making my characters realistic and attempting to convey emotion without boring the readers who are there for the sci-fi story. Wish me luck!

Image Credit: africa

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One Response to “Writing Teen Romance: Mary’s Take On Growing Love, Organically”

  1. You had me at "I am the girl who was voted to remain a virgin forever by my 8th grade class."

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