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Thread: 17-Too young?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW A.P.M.'s Avatar
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    17-Too young?

    I'm writing a new story that has a few explicit scenes, and takes place in a fantasy universe. Problem is, one of the MCs starts the story at age 17. He has a relationship with another 17 year old before the main relationship starts when he's 18 with a man four years older.

    Is a 17-year-old protagonist too young for erotica? Should I avoid explicit detail when he's younger, or just age him up to 18?
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  2. #2
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I'd age him up to 18, just to be safe. Publishers are leery of lawsuits, even when the minors involved don't exist.

    Unless, that is, you can write scenes which are hot but not graphic when your boy is 17, and save the explicitness for 18 and beyond.

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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    If it is erotica I would suggest either adding a year or not being explicit about age. If it is predominantly fantasy but with some erotic scenes you may have a bit more leeway.

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    υπείκωphobe Wilde_at_heart's Avatar
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    I've seen some posters in Young Adult insist that age is irrelevant even for graphic depictions, but personally, I'd just go with whatever is easier.

    Picking an arbitrary age is often an unnecessary complication unless it's crucial to the story.
    Last edited by Wilde_at_heart; 02-05-2013 at 10:03 PM.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW A.P.M.'s Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I think I'm going to age him up. I wanted him to seem a bit on the youthful, inexperienced side to other characters, but I think his backstory does that well enough without him actually needing to be young.
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  6. #6
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilde_at_heart View Post
    I've seen some posters in Young Adult insist that age is irrelevant even for graphic depictions, but personally, I'd just go with whatever is easier..
    If you are published as erotica, by an erotica press, the obscenity laws become more of an issue. That is why these presses generally will not take stories involving minors and Amazon frequently will not list them.

  7. #7
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.P.M. View Post
    Is a 17-year-old protagonist too young for erotica? Should I avoid explicit detail when he's younger, or just age him up to 18?
    Why take the chance that a publisher will reject your story based on this? Most don't leave a lot of wiggle room on their stated age or kink policies.
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  8. #8
    υπείκωphobe Wilde_at_heart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    If you are published as erotica, by an erotica press, the obscenity laws become more of an issue. That is why these presses generally will not take stories involving minors and Amazon frequently will not list them.
    Thanks.

    Not that I'm asking for me, but is this more of a 'depends on the publisher' issue then?

    Just curious.

  9. #9
    Outside the box, with the bunnehz KimJo's Avatar
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    Some *young adult* publishers will accept graphic sex involving teens because the books are FOR teens. It's presumed that teens know what sex is, and that enough are having it that it isn't unreasonable for it to be present in books that teens will read.

    However, most, if not all *erotica* publishers (and erotic romance) will not accept graphic sex between characters under 18 because the books are for ADULTS, and there's a very sketchy line with presenting underage sex to an adult audience.

    There's also the matter of the intent of the scene; in young adult fiction, sex scenes are supposed to contribute to the plot and/or characterization in some way, and the focus is usually on the point-of-view character's emotions and thoughts. In erotica/erotic romance, sex scenes are supposed to do the above but also are supposed to *arouse* the reader. And the focus is often on, or also on, the physical mechanics of the act and the physical sensations experienced by the POV character.

    Most publishers don't want to deal with scenes of teenagers/underage characters when presented in an arousing, titillating way, and especially when presented that way to *adults*. (And yes, adults do also read YA. And some of them probably get turned on by it. But adults are NOT the intended audience for YA.)
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  10. #10
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    If you want to publish with a UK publisher it could be OK. If you're aiming for the USA you need to make it 18.
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  11. #11
    Zombie lovin' elindsen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    I'd age him up to 18, just to be safe. Publishers are leery of lawsuits, even when the minors involved don't exist.

    Unless, that is, you can write scenes which are hot but not graphic when your boy is 17, and save the explicitness for 18 and beyond.
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  12. #12
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    The MC in my fantasy novel is 15 or so when the story starts, but she doesn't take a mate until 18 - and I make puberty a very clear demarcation in her life.

    I have another character engaging in some disturbing behavior around age 15 or 16, but it's recounted in third-person, and in flashbacks only. With another character, I deliberately made his life hell the day after he turned 18.

    US laws are interesting, but I take them as a challenge, not a limitation.

  13. #13
    figuring it all out Bec de Corbin's Avatar
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    This is not actually erotica, correct? It is some erotic scenes in a work of another genre? If so, I say go for it. The very first sex scene I ever read was between two fourteen-year olds in a science fiction novel. I wasn't scarred.

  14. #14
    That cheeky buggerer Maxinquaye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.P.M. View Post
    Is a 17-year-old protagonist too young for erotica? Should I avoid explicit detail when he's younger, or just age him up to 18?
    For erotica, yes. It is too young. Erotica is a specialist genre though where one of the purposes is titillation. Using minors as wank-fodder is squicky on all kinds of levels.

    However, sexually explicit in "a few scenes" doesn't necessarily mean it's erotica. I write about teens, and teens have sex. If I'm going to be truthful to my material I have to reflect that, so sometimes my characters have sex.

    If your book is not mainly to arouse the reader, but to tell a truthful story about teen characters, then it would be untruthful to not let them have a sex-life. Unless the character has chosen not to have such.
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  15. #15
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxinquaye View Post
    For erotica, yes. It is too young. Erotica is a specialist genre though where one of the purposes is titillation. Using minors as wank-fodder is squicky on all kinds of levels.

    However, sexually explicit in "a few scenes" doesn't necessarily mean it's erotica. I write about teens, and teens have sex. If I'm going to be truthful to my material I have to reflect that, so sometimes my characters have sex.

    If your book is not mainly to arouse the reader, but to tell a truthful story about teen characters, then it would be untruthful to not let them have a sex-life. Unless the character has chosen not to have such.
    The thing is though that outside the USA a lot of countries don't consider 17 a minor. Sixteen is the age of consent in the UK, New Zealand, Australia.
    But anyway for erotica because of the US laws it certainly is easier to just keep it over 18.
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  16. #16
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  17. #17
    Easily Amused ebbrown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.P.M. View Post
    I'm writing a new story that has a few explicit scenes, and takes place in a fantasy universe. Problem is, one of the MCs starts the story at age 17. He has a relationship with another 17 year old before the main relationship starts when he's 18 with a man four years older.

    Is a 17-year-old protagonist too young for erotica? Should I avoid explicit detail when he's younger, or just age him up to 18?
    I agree with the other posters, I would just make the character 18. Is his age central to the storyline in some way? Easier to avoid any issue and just up the age a bit, methinks.

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  18. #18
    Sockpuppet Krystal Heart's Avatar
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    I've been to the submission guidelines of over 10 different erotica publishers and they absolutely will not accept submissions where characters under the age of 18 engage in explicit sex. Make him an 18-year-old. 17 is still a minor. Minors do have sex, there's no question about it, but publishers don't want to get in trouble by using minors for titillation.

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