Thursday, September 29, 2011

Writing from the TEEN PERSPECTIVE.

Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and every Saturday, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! ARCs, signed books, awesome books... Anything we have--you get to choose.

Today's question:

What do you find most challenging as an adult trying to capture the teen perspective in your story? Or, as a teen, what things in YA books do you think get the teen perspective wrong? (Or right?)

Our answers:

Cambria: For me, the most challenging thing is not to trivialize something my character may be going through just because it's not important to Adult Me. Getting dumped by a boyfriend may not be the end of the world in the grand scheme of things (and is less important than, say, not being able to pay the mortgage). BUT, it sure can feel like the end of the world to a teen and I have to consciously remember that feeling if it's something my character is going to go through.

Alison: Keeping my inner teen on at all times - not slipping into adult mode and being all preachy and stuff. And I just want to rescue my babies - save them from any pain. I blame it on the mommy in me. It's tortuous when they have their All is Lost moment.

Alexandra: I often want to give my teen characters the hindsight and perspective I've gained as an adult. Which, of course, would defeat the purpose of writing teen characters. Sometimes it's hard to let my characters make mistakes (hardest when they're similar to mistakes I made as a teen) without intervening and bringing in my magic author wand and giving them just a teensy bit more experience, or the knowledge to not date that certain boy or girl who is only trouble, or to not care what that mean judgmental group at school thinks. But then I remember that the most rewarding part about reading AND writing teen characters is watching them GAIN that perspective, experience, and hindsight. If I give it to them before it's earned, then I've just taken away my favorite part.

Karen: Teen voice. However, most of my characters aren't your typical teens. They're old souls or look like teens but are actually much older or they grew up in unique environments. Plus, I think some people have this expectation that all teen characters need to sound a certain way. When in reality, teens don't all sound, think, or act alike--not even close.

Cristin: I think the most challenging thing for me is that I had a very atypical high school experience, so I often don't even have memories to fall back on when trying to create an authentic, fictional teen life. I never had a big high school romance or went to a dance or got drunk at a party, so I have to just guess what those experiences would be like based on what I see in movies, TV, other YA books, and the teenagers I know/have known. And I'm never sure if I'm getting any of it right.

Sara: I remember what being a teen was like. Vividly. But I have only my memories and experiences to work off of (with authenticity), so I've had some difficulty creating teen characters who think/act/feel completely different than how I would have (especially when I first starting writing YA). But I think that's where learning to really inhabit characters comes into play. Just like their real life counterparts, teen characters are unique with their own voices and their own philosophies--and capturing those things in a story can be one of the most rewarding parts :)


And happy Thursday!


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