Friday, February 12, 2010


Having spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, Eileen Cook is the author of WHAT WOULD EMMA DO? and the highly anticipated GETTING REVENGE ON LAUREN WOOD (Simon Pulse, January 2010).

Click on the book title above to read sample pages at Or click HERE to visit Eileen’s webpage.

If you thought there was only one take on writing teen voice, better put your seatbelt on.

   How I Write Teen Voice
            By Eileen Cook

Heck if I know. I didn’t set out to write for teens.

I don’t think choosing to write young adult is different than choosing to write any other genre.

We don’t ask mystery writers how they found their “mystery voice” or sci-fi writers how they channel their inner alien. Why would we assume it’s different for YA?

It just turned out that the story I wanted to tell fell into this genre.

As the writer you have to respect your reader.

You have to love the genre you’re writing in and find yourself reading as much of it as you can.

I grew up reading Judy Blume books and still secretly harbor a fantasy where she asks me to hang out with her talking books and drinking margaritas. Some of her books are 30 years old, but they still resonate with readers. It’s not because she has the latest slang, but because the emotions of characters ring true.

We still feel the sting of rejection, the desire to connect with our friends, the passion of first love, the fear of not fitting in and frustration of being stuck between being a child and an adult.

If you’re focused on the core of your story, the details will fall in place. When your book is done then you have the chance to get teen feedback. They’ll tell you that no one uses the term dork and that your musical references are a few decades out of date. Those are the easy fixes.

My advice is not to worry about the YA voice and focus on the story you feel a passion to tell. The good news is that it isn’t the teen voice that matters; it’s your voice. Happy writing.

1 comment:

L.J. Boldyrev said...

Great post! Voice is something I'm struggling with, but I think I'm getting a handle on it.