Megan Bostic’s young adult novel LOCKDOWN was recently selected to move to the next round by the judges of the 2010 Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
Megan Bostic is also the creator of a series of popular videos that chronicle the daily struggles and trimuphs of the writing life.
To view one of Megan's videos from the
Chronicles of an Apsiring Writer, please click HERE.
Writing Teen Voice
By Megan Bostic.
One of the biggest challenges for me in writing is authenticity. I began re-reading the first YA book I ever wrote, about a thirteen-year-old, and saying to myself, No thirteen year old would ever say that.
It helps that my daughter is now thirteen, and if I can’t picture her saying it, it gets cut.
She’s been helpful to have around these days. She was reading my latest book, LOCKDOWN, and she laughed. Considering that the book is about a school shooting and not funny in the slightest, I asked, “What are you laughing at?”
She had read this passage:
Through the blood, and tears, and muck, I began to recognize faces. Tammy, Keisha, Tyler, the band kids. Thank God. I searched the group for Cameron; I couldn’t wait to kiss his handsome face.
She said, “Handsome? No one would say that.”
Er. So then I had to pick her brain for a better word. You can only say “hot” so many times in a manuscript in my opinion. We settled on “gorgeous” and moved on.
In my book MENDING FENCES, I write in the POV of a 17-year-old boy. Very challenging. Even though my character is highly intelligent, and kind of an old soul, I still had to be careful not to add too much description and to make sure he didn’t sound too feminine. Probably the hardest voice I’ve written thus far.
Here’s a short excerpt:
I grab a shoebox that’s been sitting in my closet. It held the new pair of green Converse high tops my mom bought me before the school year started. Cool shoes.
Originally my character, Austin, goes on and on about the shoes, how much he loved them, how he was excited to get them. Now, they’re just cool. I could probably even take out the words “green” and “high tops” as well and it would be fine.
If teens feel you’re either talking above them or below them, they get turned off, or in my daughter’s case, they laugh at you.
I think the important thing about getting a teen voice right is to talk to teens. Listen to how they speak, what words they use, their slang. Have them read your manuscript and give their opinion on the language.
Nothing like getting a rejection letter that says your main character is too precocious, or sounds too old for their age. Get it right before sending it out to the world.