This month I'm gving away a $10 Amazon or B & N gift card. To enter the August giveaway, please enter in the widget for every blog post. There is a link for Terms and Conditions to this giveaway. Congratulations to Ashtrie K. for July's giveaway. The Summer Giveaway Hop ended (a separate giveaway) and Nurmawati D. was the winner. There's yet a third giveaway going on at Readerlicious.com.
Please welcome Tracy Meyer to the blog today. She's talking about writing for young adults and her new release A Life, Redefined. Make sure to leave her a comment and then enter the giveaway.
First of all I’d like to thank Brinda for hosting me on her blog!
Today I’m going to talk about teen angst and how to write it. I don’t know about you, but I remember my teen years very well. From the first day of middle school to the day I walked the halls a mighty senior, I can recall how I felt, who I saw, my place in the crowd, with more detail than I can remember what my children wore when we went to the store an hour ago.
I draw upon these memories to carve out my young adult voice (and believe me, I’m far from ‘young adult’ status). And if I’m writing a scene that doesn’t connect with my teen memories, I use instances that have happened to me as an adult. I use life experiences to channel my inner teen angst.
Channeling teen experiences:
The reason that I, like many, remember those years is because everything was so vivid, so raw, so vital. There is no gray area during these years. Emotions are hard-hitting and life-altering. Many of these emotions are born of pain. And not the physical kind.
Who maneuvered their teen years surrounded by peaches and cream? Roses and lilacs? Sweet tea and pumpkin pie? You get the picture. Those years are full of intense highs, but also intense lows, which is where a young adult author needs to return if they are to lure that voice out of the past and infuse it into their manuscript.
The most painful memories I have:
· A break-up with my first long-term boyfriend. (He broke up with me.)
· Meeting my next long-term boyfriend who was an exchange student from Sweden. He left at the end of that school year, leading to the breaking of two very young hearts.
· I was head cheerleader and the head cheerleader always won Miss Red Devil. I didn’t get voted as Miss Red Devil.
· The day a girl almost beat me up for the unknown reasons that many of these fights happen.
· The day my parents told me they were divorcing.
· The day I realized I was depressed.
I can go on and on and on. Most importantly, though, I remember how everything felt. Vividly. When I write, I dive into these memories, draw up the emotion and insert it into my character.
Channeling adult experiences and translating them into your teen novel:
I was a hyper-sensitive teenager and I am a hyper-sensitive adult. I am one of those people who absorb other people’s emotions. This can make life a virtual roller-coaster of highs and lows. I cry when people cry. I feel joy when people feel joy. Same goes for anger. Distress. Fatigue. You name it, I feel it.
This comes in handy, excluding the persistent need for tissues. If I’m writing a scene or creating a character and I don’t have a teen memory that relates, I pull something from my adult life and use it to find my young adult voice. In fact, I’m almost as sensitive now as I was then. I still feel like an outsider in a crowd of people I know. I still yearn for the perfect outfit that will make me stand-out. I still get jealous, resentful, hurt, irrational.
Tap into that sensitivity to help find the young adult voice. To utilize your adult experiences in a young adult novel, see the tips below:
· Think about how you feel. Dig deeper than, ‘Wow, this sucks’ to how you really feel. Take it one step further. Two steps further. Then one step more. Get raw.
· What is your place in the pain? Are you responsible for it or is someone else? Our characters are at times instigators, at times recipients. It’s important to experience and understand both. Take it a step deeper.
It’s been my experience that language is different in young adult novels. I view it like an onion-Shrek, anyone?-with layers. There are more layers for the adult audience; more words, more descriptive statements, more…not substance…not fluff…but more substance and fluff.
Let me explain. It’s not that adult fiction consists of overly verbose, overly lyrical prose. And it’s not that young adult fiction reads like a toddler’s board book. But just like teen emotions, the wording should be poignant, raw, less fuss and muss. Let me qualify this by stating that I write adult fiction too and I don’t consider my readers ‘fussy’. It’s just different.
When I write for the young adult audience, I pare it down, punch straight to the heart, and keep it moving. My novels end up being as emotional as those tender, tumultuous years. At least they are to me when they leave me sobbing at the end.
If there are any teenagers reading this blog, here is my advice: remember how you feel in every situation. If you have aspirations of writing young adult fiction (or any fiction!) being able to describe how the characters feel is essential. And if you are a young adult person now, reading this, you can establish that descriptive foundation now. Adults, don’t shy away from the emotion in your life. Life is hard. Experience it and your writing will thank you for it!
You can also find me at www.TracyHewittMeyer.com, and on twitter @TracyHMeyer.
Many thanks to Brinda for hosting me today. I had a blast!
If you’re interested in seeing my take on teen angst, A Life, Redefined is available now.
Seven years ago, an innocent act by Rowan Slone turned her life into a nightmare. Since the age of ten she's lived with the burden of her baby brother's death. Now she is seventeen and all she wants to do is graduate high school, go to college, and escape the loveless family she has endured all these years—the same family that holds her responsible for his death. But no one holds her responsible more than herself.
When long-time crush Mike Anderson invites her to the Prom, suddenly her future looks brighter. Rowan's younger sister, Trina, however, is determined to ruin her new-found happiness, no matter the cost. And when Rowan discovers her mother’s long-held secret, she finds herself teetering on the edge of an abyss. Can Rowan find the strength to move toward the future or is she doomed to dwell in the past?
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