Friday, January 25, 2013

YA Romance Story Fodder: Your Own Young Love

Some friends and I were talking this week about writing romance and how sometimes we don't trust our own intuition to guide us through the story arc, even if we're in successful relationships ourselves. Its especially difficult when adults write for teens, since we have likely forgotten the way young love differs from mature relationships, in matters of caution, self-protection, baggage, other demands on our time, trust, and many other issues.

By total coincidence, I came across a box of letters from freshman year and spent an afternoon re-reading them.

(Here I need to do a shout-out to my Dad: Dad, thank you for writing to me faithfully on your typewriter just about every week, typos and all. I'm guessing today's college kids can't fathom such a thing, but back then money was too tight for frequent long-distance phone calls, and we didn't have email so we relied on the postal service. Sometimes we even *hand-wrote* letters.)

Anyway, I'd forgotten a few of the succession of boyfriends I went through that year. (another aside: Matt Spicer of St. Louis, should you ever come across this, you were a great boyfriend. Sorry I didn't appreciate you enough.) But saved in a shoebox, dusty and yellowed with age, were letters from all kinds of boys: some ardent, some kind of silly, some incomprehensible - and all of them full of wonderful, mine-able inspiration.

I just have to share this one - I won't use his name, of course - because I got curious about what happened to the boy I met on Spring break in Cocoa Beach, Florida, who liked me enough to figure out how to write to me. Google found him in two shakes. People, he went on to become a much-decorated Colonel in the air was hard for me to reconcile the image of the handsome, confident-looking man in uniform with the awkward boy who bought me a mai-tai, but there you go.

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12 April '82

Dear Sophie,

Are you confused? Surprised? Considering the fact that all you would tell me was your first name - finding your address proved to be a little difficult. In case you still haven't figured out who this is - I'm the guy you met at Brassy's in Cocoa Beach about 3 weeks ago. Why am I writing you a letter? Good question - especially when you consider that getting you to say anything that night was like pulling teeth. [ed note: see? I told you I'm shy.] Yet - I haven't met another girl quite like you. You're attractive, obviously very intelligent, and then there is whatever is prompting me to write this letter.

[ed note: this "whatever" is what we are trying to convey in YA or frankly any romantic story arc! I can't tell you how many times I've been criticized for not showing enough reason for my h/h to be together.]

Anyway - I'm a Third Class Cadet (sophomore) at the U.S. Air Force Academy who just happened to be vacationing with three friends in sunny Florida a few weeks back - major is Astronautical Engineering and my sights are set on graduation, entry into pilot training, good school, and getting into the space shuttle program. That's me in a nutshell.

[ed note: people, note how this boy describes himself and his aspirations. Very different from, say, a 50-something on a first date. I mean, don't get me started...]

Well - what I'm hoping for is that you will reciprocate and write a litter back. You can always use a pen pal! Of course if I don't hear from you in a few weeks Ill know you probably never got this far in the letter. Hope to hear from you soon.

P.S. My male ego bruises very easily.

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rissatoo said...

Sooooooooooo....????? Did you write a "litter" back? ;)

Kristen W said...

Which one was Matt?