Last week, I promised to tackle an issue regarding adult authors choosing to write for teens.
What issue, you ask? Slang.
Wikipedia defines slang as: the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's dialect or language. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo (see euphemism). It is also used to identify with one's peers.
Many readers complain about the overuse of slang in YA novels. I get it--it's annoying. It looks forced and a tad cliche. The author's attempt to capture teen speak can fall flat with the intended audience, but it can also be a bummer for adults reading YA, too. They won't relate to the characters or the dialogue. In some cases, people put books down because of this.
Confession: I would never do that.
I'd finish that slang infested book even if it costs me my sanity.
Oh, wait... I don't think I have any left...
Anyway, back to the point. Slang doesn't have to be used all over the place, but it is important to show the reader who the main character hangs out with, what he/she does in their spare time, and how he/she sees the world. Some authors illustrate this through the way their character describes setting and emotions. And sometimes, slang fits right in with those descriptions. Think about it: most teens don't talk to their parents the same way they talk to their best friend. Some do, of course. I don't believe in absolutes. But the truth can't be ignored--young adult lit should capture... wait for it... the young adult spirit. OMGs included.
A YA book shouldn't be bashed because it's slang infested. The same thing can't be said if the book talks down to its teen audience, or if it tries to teach them a lesson in an obvious way ("and the moral of the story is..."). Authors should simply be careful with how much slang means to a certain character in the books. Not everyone should be a fan of OMG. That would be a bit unrealistic, don't you think?
So. Slang in YA. I like it. I would read an entire book with it, but only if it adds to the characterization. Using it just because that's what you think teens like to read is a mistake. Just saying.
What say you, blogging buddies? Is slang your cup of tea?