Saturday, November 5, 2011

Writing YA Today

"What is a chode?" I asked this question of my sixteen year old daughter, when I heard her and her friend laughing at the new nickname they'd given one of their male friends. When she told me, I was honestly surprised; mostly because she actually knew what a chode was, and then I felt another grey hair spring forth. Am I really that old?

Writing a YA series has been a great learning and growing experience, but it had also been very challenging to walk the line between what's appealing and relating to today's teens, while keeping them engaged without crossing over into adult. I've read many YA paranormal romance and some authors are much better at this than others. The way I see it, in this day and age, the YA audience could probably teach me a thing or two, so I'm not as worried about writing conservatively as I am about writing a great story, with real dialogue and real life issues.

My goal has always been that the YA audience will identify with my characters. They're not perfect--some of them curse, use alcohol and drugs, have premarital sex, and generally make many of the same mistakes our teens today make. But one message comes through strong in my paranormal romance Until Darkness Comes, and that's the power of love and forgiveness.

Hope you all have a great Saturday. I'd love to hear what you think about writing YA today :)

Melynda Price


J.A. Campbell said...

so what is a Chode?

Writing for younger people is challenging.


Kimber An said...

Teens are the same generation after generation. It's the culture which changes and the adults who forget what it's like to be teens. A hundred years ago, almost all American girls were bent on marriage as their life aspiration, for example. Now, most want to go to college and have a career, as well as find their life-mates and have babies. Today, teens may scream in adoration at Robert Pattinson or Justin Beiber and their grandmothers may call them stupid for it. Yet, just fifty years ago, those same grandmothers were teens screaming in adoration for Elvis Presley and the Beatles.

Popular culture changes in a heartbeat, so I don't bother trying to keep up. Instead, I think it's a lot more constructive to understand adolescence in general (did you know the human brain doesn't stop growing until about age 20, for example?) and the individual teens in my life in particular.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post, Melynda! I'm always haggling with my editors over word choice and even dress because I'm pretty particular about those things and I think a lot of that stuff can quickly take over the editorial process as we lose sight of the, you know, actual story.

I used to teach high school English for years, and so the details and dress and language I used then was a lot more accurte, but when I go back and read the YA stuff I wrote then, it also sounds quite dated to me.

This year my wife got a few catalogs in the mail and I literally kept them open to the "juniors" section so that when I wrote what someone was wearing, I could point to it and tell my editor, "See, JC Penney says it's cool!"

I'm not sure that's the most effective use of my time! Instead I try to keep that stuff in the background and just use basic colors and dress and rely on classic insults; they're the best anyway!!!

Sorry for another ramble; I have to learn to come here AFTER my coffee wears off...

Kimber An said...

"Instead I try to keep that stuff in the background and just use basic colors and dress and rely on classic insults; they're the best anyway!!!"

Me too. Also, I specifically gave Bianca, the heroine's twin sister, a strong desire to set her own style. She doesn't give a da** about current trends and Ophelia's a geek who'd be happy in jeans and t-shirt at the prom. That way I could be more detailed about their appearance without sounding like I'm stuck in 80's.