-Word choice. No cursing! Teenagers and high schoolers don't curse! (rolls eyes)
-No sex. Because teenagers don't have sex! (rolls eyes again)
-Violence. Violence is actually okay. (Just not sex, heaven forbid)
-Plotting. For a story to be a story, the characters must face an interesting, oft-dangerous, life-changing series of events. But, under no circumstances can they turn to adults for help.
This is not a bitch session about YA books. In fact, constraints often force the writer to think outside the box and generate creative solutions.
In the YA book I'm working on now, I've broken the No Cursing! rule in a few ways. For example:
-Instead of spelling out the word, just saying that somebody curses. This way, the reader fills in the details and the character still seems real. "She had posted the embarrassing picture of him running naked through the woods on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Harry stared, in shock, for a moment and then said a really bad word."
-Have the characters use code words to signify a curse ... "Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot are you doing?"
I hope to have my YA sci-fi novel, Undo, out next year. Here's the blurb:
UNDO, Evan Ronan's light sci-fi YA novel explores how quantum mechanics complicates one of the most fundamental questions of humanity: identity.
At junior prom, Harry Quinn receives a posthumous text from his best friend with instructions that lead him to a mysterious iPad like device that has two buttons: Control and Z. Harry soon discovers that he can regress to his last significant quantum state and possibly work his way back to the day his best friend died and change history.
But doing so comes at the highest of costs as Harry must undo the past--and himself--one step at a time.