I was thinking about 'edgy', as is maybe obvious from the title of this post. I'm just so unsure what to do with this concept, and frankly, I'm a little bit over the word. See, there are some things that I've read and I think, okay, I understand why this would be labeled 'edgy'. Living Dead Girl comes immediately to mind.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
But beyond something so obviously 'edgy', I just. don't. get. it.
I'm going to explain why, using my WIPs to help me. * (That would be Dead and Alive, as I'm tentatively calling my WIP, even though I'm not sure it'll stick--better than untitled, though--and Unthawed, because Ignited is in that weird, "new adult" zone.)
So, Unthawed is so very not edgy. They don't really swear, no one has sex or does drugs or drinks or anything like that. None of the things that tend to win books that little "edgy" label, by my best judgement. But it is so violent. Pretty much everyone my MC knows gets killed in the first/second chapter, brutally. And then there's more death and violence after that. But apparently that's fine? That's not horrifying, not potentially scarring? At least, not compared to...
Dead and Alive has sex and swearing and I guess overall the whole concept is a little unpleasant, what with my MC having been killed before it starts. I'm not sure whether or not this would be labeled edgy. Because as this post makes very clear, I'm no expert on the subject. But it's definitely way closer than Unthawed.
But the thing is, swearing isn't anything a teen wouldn't hear every single day at school, if not at home. The sex, well, it's not like teens don't know that other teens are doing it, even if they're not. It's not like my characters are S&Ming it or something. It's not edgy, in my mind. And those things I just said are exactly why I hate hate hate when every book with one little swear is suddenly edgy, or why characters are suddenly so amazingly teen when they start in with their pot smoking and their drunken escapades.
If I were thinking about 'edge' in terms of the real world, not literature, violence (even if that violence is an animal/mutant mutilating a human) would be SO FAR above things like normal sex between two people (teens or adults) and above casual drug use or alcohol drinking (alcoholism and drug addiction are different--those for me fall into the 'I see why this might be labeled edgy' category.) Swearing isn't even on my edge radar at all.
So the use of this term 'edgy' baffles me and I kind of want it to go away. Or not go away, but be more limited! Isn't there a middle ground between clean and gentle happy place writing and edgy? Can't something be more suitable for those in the upper YA range without being 'edgy'? Why does sex=omg the shock and horror? Am I wrong for thinking enough YA has these elements now that it's silly to think of them as some sort of special category?
Feel free to agree with me, disagree with me, explain to me what big picture element I am missing in my confusion.
*Note: I am definitely not trying to label the edginess of my WIPs, because I'm honestly not particularly concerned with whether or not they are. It's just easier to use examples.