Google+ Reading Teen: Keeping Teen Romance Real by S.R. Johannes

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Keeping Teen Romance Real by S.R. Johannes

Everyone leaves a mark.

What would you do if yours was erased?

Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he's dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she's enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it's going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.

S.R. Johannes author of Untraceable and Uncontrollable: The Nature of Grace Series has been so kind to write something special for us today.

Keeping Teen Romance Real

Every teen book has some form of romance in it. I think that is real because it is a very hormonal time. And no matter what is going on in a teen’s life, romance and relationships are usually present at some level, whether it be intense or as a secondary thought.

For me, teen romance is not too hard to write if I tap into my own experiences when I was that age. Yet, I need to be sure it is relevant for today.

I remember how I felt when I was a teen, falling in love for the first time (yet it feels like the last. I’ll never forget my first love. I was 15 and in 10 th grade. He was in 11th. With a cool car (a Suburban), his Miami Vice style. I thought I was going to marry him and when we broke up, I thought my life was over. Those feelings don’t change that much, no matter what era the teen is in.

I remember love as a teen as being slightly impulsive and overwhelming. Sometimes melodramatic – in love one day, out of love the next. The days of 3–way calls, making love tapes, clammy hands, and awkward moments. Teen romance is full of firsts and intensity because everything is new and awkward.

Tapping into those times and bringing back those moments - while keeping it real - is challenging.

A few things I do to keep it real:
  • Write love scenes for the teen audience. They don’t see love or show love the way adults do.
  • Show how the two connect in more ways than just physical. Mental, emotional, and physical are all important.
  • Create some conflict in the relationship and make sure it is teeny worthy and believable.
  • Research and read other teen romance books to help me portray what love and “lust” looking like in teens today.
  • I try to keep it PG with a purpose - so that every scene makes sense for those characters and the progress of the story.

It is okay to have romance in teen novels as long as they make sense to the plot, characterization, and overall theme. Don’t just do it to do it. Make it count.

Thank you so much Shelli.


  1. I love "real" teen love scenes, when everything is so new and awkward and sweet. If only it didn't have to get so darn complicated! Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Interesting thoughts.


  3. Thank you so much for having me on your blog :)


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