Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Writing in a Teen's World

"Why can't I wear that to school? Can I take the car? Why can't I see my boyfriend instead of study for the test? Clean my room?" These and many other questions are posed by my target audience almost everyday. Teens live in a world of questions, even though they want you to think they know all the answers. I love writing for teens because they are like adults only more open to new ideas. Most of them haven't made any major life decisions yet. Failure is possible but, they still have time to change. Teens are on the verge of everything. They are like a ball rolling uphill, but are building momentum as they near the precipice.

From the time kids leave junior high to the time they go off to college is only four years. Four years is nothing! They change dramatically in that time. Those four years make an indelible impact on who they are as an adult. Thinking of this makes me want to take every kid this age, and give them a big hug now to tell them they are worthwhile. As I try to give advice on growing up to the young people in my life, I just end up saying things like "Boys are stupid, that's why." or "Girls are mean." or "You are very lucky, you just don't realize it." It's a wonder they make it through the maze of puberty and into adulthood.

I think about my 16 year old daughter, her friends, and my old 16 year old self when I'm writing. That was a long time ago but some things don't change. Friends are still important; the feeling of wanting to belong is still strong, and any small thing that happens seems insurmountable. They swing on a pendulum from happy to sad. When my daughter is happy and having fun with her friends, I remember how care-free and exciting those days were for me. When she's not having a good day, I remember how I took things hard and sometimes didn't know how to cope. The teenage years are a complex web of emotions. Teens today have more pressure on them to succeed. They need the enjoyment and escape that reading can give. They need time to explore and feel the rush of knowing anything is possible. If I can give them a world to escape to when their boyfriend breaks up with them or their parents fly off the handle, then I've succeeded.


  1. You have both memory and observation - and they make for great writing.

  2. And those are just the "typical" concerns adolescents have, some of them deal with things that never would have crossed my mind at that age. In working with them, i was always struck by how much they still wanted to be thought well of by their parents and siblings, no matter what had transpired in the family, and i am sure this would have been a shock to their parents! Your empathy for this age will help you continue to write for them. Like when you watch a John Hughes movie, he portrays his adolescent characters with such obvious affection.

  3. You definetly know your audience.I remember reading to escape from reality.There is nothing like becoming someone else, for a little, while when you're at that stage in your life when you hate being yourself.

  4. Wow. Ellen you want to come talk to my classes? Great genuine entry.