If you write a book about Emos, I bet you won’t call them that. Does your novel follow a Psycho? Maybe you describe her as an alternative thinker. If nerds are the heroes of your story, or for that matter vandals or drug abusers, then your story—almost by definition—is trying to make them seem more heroic.
You’re writing to shift the literary ‘center’ of their subculture.
The problem faced by champions of a subculture (let’s call them ‘writers’) is that the center of it starts in the world’s metatext. In other words, the subculture already has a bad reputation… not just in our world but in other literature, in nasty jokes and riddles, and in casual putdowns from the mouths of cops and parents. The job of a YA champion, then, is to shift the center of the subculture into the story’s text. Continue reading