I am writing a book, in which the protagonists are two teenagers. They fell in love and it is time they were alone and had sex.

As long as the book is destined for teenagers from 15-19, I would like to ask how should I handle the sex part. What ways is sex generally handled in YA books? Are there commonly accepted methods for doing this without turning the book into an adult romance novel with underage sex scenes, or with scenes taken out of a porn movie?

  • Welcome to writers SE. As it stands, you question is a "what should I write" question, which is off topic. Can you make it more specific? Have you read other books in this genre? How do they handle such scenes? What problems do you see in handling your scenes in a similar way?
    – user16226
    Aug 27, 2016 at 12:34
  • Unfortunately, I haven't read any familliar book. I feel there are not much in teenage fiction in my country. They all approach sex in such a delicant way, which ends up cliched in a way I don't like at all. Would you be so kind as to help me changing the question, in order not to be off topic? Aug 27, 2016 at 13:23
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    I can't really tell you what more specific questions to ask because I don't know what specifically you are struggling with. But it is really hard to write a kind of book that you have never read. I think you need to find a way to read some books like the one you want to write, as long as it is safe for you to do so. (Though if it is not, it probably isn't safe for you to write one either.)
    – user16226
    Aug 27, 2016 at 13:32
  • Usually it's pretty bad. Not always though... Aug 27, 2016 at 17:48
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    This is sort of asking what to write, but reading between the lines, I think what you're asking is, "what are my options here? Perhaps you can edit the question to ask about how books for this audience generally handle the subject. Not having seen your writing or your manuscript, it's hard to answer what would work well for your story. Aug 29, 2016 at 3:49

3 Answers 3


There are various ways to handle this, depending on how you want the scene to come across.

Vague. That is to say, the reader knows they had sex by reasonable inferrence. You end one scene with them entering a 'private' area (bedroom, bathroom, remotre area of the woods, etc) and start the next scene with them being sweaty, touchy-feely, and much more physically and emotionally close to each other. In this way the more savvy will get it.

Euphemism based sex. In this you have two options. You can just say what it is, just not in a clinical way. They didn't 'have sex' they 'made love' or 'screwed' or 'did the thing' or 'he popped her cherry' or whatever you want to describe it as. Or if you want a more direct approach, you can try the 'looking back sequence' this: "He isn't quite sure how things escalated, but he remembers the sensations, the warmth, the closeness. The nervous excitement is like a drug, even now." Be sure, if you take this route, you don't encourage your audience to 'do the deed', but show it in a real light (e.g. show repurcusions thereof: STI, pregnancy, risk of losing virginity to a jerk, insecurity afterwards, etc).

  • Hello @Fayth85 and thank you for your suggestions. Yesterday I googled some more on the internet and I found out that the sex part in teens fiction is based a lot on euphemisms. This is quite releaving on the one hand, but on the other hand I feel that it becomes pretty 'easy' as writing... Aug 27, 2016 at 21:55

In general, YA books have become fairly permissive. You can get away with a lot, if it works within the context of your story. The important question you need to ask here is: What purpose is the sex serving in your story?

If you don't know what it's there for, you'll have trouble writing the scene well. If you know it should have dirty bits in it but you don't know why, then readers will probably come out of it without much impression beyond "that was a dirty bit."

So the questions here are: what is your book about; what does the sex signify in the story; what kind of scene and experience are you trying to create for the reader. You can choose just how graphic you want to get, but the important thing is to know exactly what effect you're going for. If you're aiming for "sweet, tender first love," than using hardcore pornography term will not serve you well. If you're aiming for "naked, vulnerable, and utterly down-to-earth," then you won't want passionate, exaggerated euphemisms.

As a general rule, focus on feelings, not on mechanics. Feelings, character and relationships are usually what a YA story is about. You can reference body parts and intimate touches if you want to, but I think you'll usually find that getting into serious, explicit detail will be more of a distraction than anything else.

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    Hey guys I followed your suggestions and I realized that the sex scene was there to show their first time and their first love. So I just wrote that it came naturally, like thurst or hunger and focused on what made after sex. They stayed in bed and huged each other for a first time and then the guy said something and they started to argue for a first time. Sep 20, 2016 at 15:49

I think it may be okay if the writing about making love is euphemistic -- but don't let the emotions around it be vague. It should be a big event for your characters and that is what is more important than the physical act.

  • I agree, a sexual scene should build the bond between two characters. Jan 24, 2021 at 23:48

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