uring a session at a recent conference, I was asked how I write authentically from the point of view of a teenager? My novel, Empty Cup
, is told in
first person from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old girl.
“I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday,” I responded, and then expanded by mentioning that I easily tap into the emotions of that time in my life. When writing Raven’s story, the main character from Empty Cup, I had to really think about how a teenager makes decisions, remember that her life experiences aren’t as vast as those of an adult, and although the story is not autobiographical, I had to relate to feelings of fear and unknowing, remember the exhilaration and terror of taking a risk, feelings of anger, betrayal, and broken trust had to come to the forefront in order to relate to Raven’s experiences to assure authenticity.
In the July 2015 issue of The Writer magazine, a reprinted an article from the July 1987 issue called Lowry’s guide to memory, Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, writes, “For me it is all there, and I can call it back. If that were not so, I could not write for children.”
At our recent meeting, I asked my fellow Anitas if they too could recall their childhood and teen years. A unanimous yes, but with exception. The conversation turned to writing from the point of view of the opposite sex. My current work in progress is from the view point of a sixteen year old boy. So how do I write accurately in that situation?
I think emotions are emotions. Boys and girls both have similar emotions during similar situations, be it fear, humour, sadness. The differences are how they respond to those emotions. While I write my new story, I often think about how my seventeen-year-old son would respond. I’ve also based my character’s best friend off of a character from a TV show, he was a class clown type of personality, so I ask myself how he would respond. Sometimes I think of what the boys in my school did in response to different situations.
The other Anitas agreed and commented that having access to children of various ages is certainly helpful. And not just a little bit of contact, really getting in and around them, listening to how they talk, what they talk about… obviously do not stalk them! 🙂 I’m suggesting that if don’t have access to children in the age range that you’re writing about, then perhaps you have friends or family with children and you could arrange to spend some time with them.
Submersing yourself in your own memories of childhood is imperative for authenticity, but keeping in contact with kids of today will help to keep you current.
How do you keep your voice accurate for your characters?