Saturday, March 13, 2010

WRITING TEEN VOICE - MEDEIA SHARIF

American-born Kurdish author Medeia Sharif currently writes multicultural YA fiction from her home in Miami Beach.

Her first YA novel, THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER, will see publication by Flux, Summer 2011.

You can find out much more about Medeia’s about humorous and honest approach to writing fiction by visiting her website, http://sharifwrites.com/

In THE BESTEST RAMADAN EVER, fifteen-year-old Almira, besides falling love with the same boy her best friend has a huge crush on, is fasting for Ramadan for the first time while her grandfather, who knocks down mailboxes when parking, is teaching her to drive.

Meanwhile, Almira is busy ducking a new enemy in the catty fellow-Muslim Shakira.

Sounds like your normal teenage week to me. :-)     Medeia was kind enough to share her strategies for creating Teen Voice in this guest post.

                      Writing Teen Voice
                        By Medeia Sharif

I’ve made the mistake of making the teenage voice sound overly mature in my earlier drafts of YA fiction. I had to remind myself that I was writing teen characters for teens.

My own grown-up voice cannot function in this arena. So here are some strategies that I use to create and maintain a teenage voice in my manuscripts.

1. I observe teens whenever I’m out and about. The way they dress, talk, shop, text, speak, write…I take note of everything.

2. I read things written by teens. There are blogs, Myspace pages, Twitter accounts, and other available text that I can learn from. Their voice seeps into what they write.

So when I’m working on a scene that has text messaging, instant messaging or journal entries, I have a good idea of how a teenager writes.

3. This isn’t always fun, but I think back to my own teenage years. Teenagers today may have different slang, fashion trends and forms of expression, but some things don’t change over time. I channel the awkwardness, melodrama, and self-consciousness and use it in my writing.

4. When I revise and edit, I ask myself if a teenager would think and speak in the way portrayed in my manuscript. If the answer is no, I cut and rewrite. I even read my work out loud to make sure it sounds teen.

11 comments:

Megan said...

Good ideas. I like the idea of reading blogs. I agree, their voice does seep out in what they write. Thanks for sharing.

Medeia Sharif said...

Thanks for posting this, Randy.

It's a learning experience to read teenage writing, Megan. Their slang, style, and voice help make my own writing authentic.

Kaitlin Ward said...

Really awesome post! I hadn't thought about how helpful it might be to read things written by teens just for themselves :)

Alissa said...

Visiting the mall on a Friday night is a good way to soak up a lot of teen talk. Of course, it is also the good way to give oneself a headache. Reading blogs is probably a much smarter approach.

gae polisner said...

thanks, Medeia, and your book sounds great! Looking forward to it. :)

Amy Holder said...

Great advice! I can't wait to read your book!

Terry said...

Reading the blogs is good idea. Great post!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Interesting to read more about Medeia and her writing! Great stuff.

Medeia Sharif said...

Thanks, everyone, for coming over and reading my post.

Alissa - I'm a teacher by day and I can't spend my evenings with teenagers at the mall. I'd definitely get a headache. Reading is so much easier.

Kaitlin and Terry - Sometimes it's hard to read their writing, especially with all the slang and abbreviations they use, but that's when Google helps.

Thank you, Gae, Amy and Terry. This is my second blog post so far and I love the amount of readership and support I'm receiving.

GhostFolk.com said...

Sometimes it's hard to read their writing, especially with all the slang and abbreviations they use, but that's when Google helps.

If it weren't for Wikipedia, Medeia, I wouldn't get half the jokes on Jon Stewart's show.

Medeia Sharif said...

I also use Wikipedia a lot. It's answered many of my questions.d