Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

How do you write a passionate teen as an old(er) writer? (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

watermark

Senior Member
I finally got my wish: I don't sweat and my face no longer looks like a tomato when I talk to pretty girls.
So I got what I fervently wanted in my teens: To be all calm and mature and cool. My heart doesn't race. I don't stammer. That's when I realized: wow, this is boring.

Maybe that's an exaggeration. :)

So I'm older now and have a great family of my own. Not to say a stable relationship isn't good, but that intensely heartfelt outpouring of gooey, mushy I will love you forever that came so easily before no longer flows from my pen. Looking at them now, this stuff I wrote are definitely cringe worthy, but I remember when I wrote them I truly meant every word.

I tried writing a love scene between two teen leads now...and find I couldn't. I don't feel "it" anymore.
Love is only one aspect of this. For example, I find it harder to recollect the trepidation and intenseness of trying something for the first time. One theory from the latest brain research people say that we lose these teen hormones, these angst chemicals so to speak. So we no longer feel any of this as we get older. Which makes me question whether we really are just brains in walking jars after all to heck with the soul theory. But let's not get off topic...

Anyway, if you are an older writer, what are some tips you would give for writing younger characters? How do you capture that passion again?
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Maybe I am just so old I have forgotten, but that sounds like stereotyping to me. I think teenagers come in all sorts and types, and some indulge in gooey, mushy outpourings, some marry the steady they have been with since forever, some just don't make emotional relationships of that sort until they are in their twenties, and some will always remain isolated individuals. Connect with your characters as an individuals to predict their actions and reactions.
 

JBF

Staff member
Board Moderator
Anyway, if you are an older writer, what are some tips you would give for writing younger characters?

Short answer - I don't.

Think back to the stuff you had to read in school. Plenty of books out there with teenage protagonists, very few of them written and finished out while the authors were still borderline juveniles themselves. Why? Because when you're muddling through the gooey center of youthful angst you have a razor-sharp sense of the highs and lows, the injustices and stolen victories, and the awkwardness and uncertainty. You see the world in what you perceieve as hyperclarity, albeit at short range.

In and of itself this makes for compelling drama but lousy reading. If you want an accurate readout of how the teenage/young adult brain works, visit Reddit. You'll learn more than you ever wanted about irrationality, anger, depression, misconception, terrible advice, and flawed worldviews. There may be considerable drama in a circus train derailing into a chemical plant. Whether anyone is willing to pay good money for the experience is another question altogether.

The reason the best coming-of-age stories are written by adults in retrospect is a question of two kinds of experience. The first comes from living through the events and times that shape the adult you eventually become. You can write a story from this, but it probably won't be readable. The second comes once you clear the young-adult mark, once you get some experience and figure out more how the world works versus how you thought it might. Critically, this second type allows you the long range understanding to take those early memories and frame them into something approaching a story (versus the Journal of Angst a Teenage You could probably have written).

Long story short? Even with a teenage/young adult cast your strongest market will probably be other adults. Teenagers may not bite (because when you are one, the last thing you want read about are people in your age bracket) and supposing they could recognize one wouldn't appreciate a 100% accurate depiction of themselves. Older readers might not sit through it.

What we can recognize is the nature of the struggles: not having a clear place in society, too much accountability without appreciable compensation, the indifference of world, the displaced sense of being attracted to someone that you think you love but also don't begin to understand, the dawning grasp of the bumper-sticker mentality that Shit Happens.

...none of which is unique to the young, exactly.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
It's good to see others addressing the point so lucidly.

I only ever shrink like a violet really when authors ascribe sexual mores of a thirty year old to 16 and 20 year olds. That always twists my melons though s'pose, well, we come in all shapes and sizes. I mean one guy I know said he was 'rutting like a dog at 14'. I suppose he would have been kind of my enemy at 14 while I was rutting a 'knot in a barbed wire fence.' [father's quote.]
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
It's a matter of replacing those adolescent emotions with grown up ones. They're the same emotions but they're not dressed up in naive clothing. You haven't lost something, you've gained depth. Use that instead. Love is blood, it's pain, it's anguish, it's fear, it's beautifully dangerous. That's what makes it love. It's not Walt Disney or mainstreamed sentiment. It's 'real'. I summed up what I take to be love in a little poem: 'If you had a zip from toe to chin, I'd open up and step right in.'

Don't grief your loss, it was never anything of great value. It was the 'I love you' printed in a Christmas card.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
Anyway, if you are an older writer, what are some tips you would give for writing younger characters? How do you capture that passion again?
Heh! I read that "relocate" as "move," at first. Then I understood.

That Old Time Music works for me.

Quietly and completely listen to the music from when you were a teenager. Even, or especially, the things you liked but "couldn't" like.

By "quietly and completely" I mean, don't multitask. Do only this; give it your all. Settle comfy. Headphones on. And use whatever feed you have. (YouTube works, but do not watch it)

For me there's usually a specific place and moment tied to a song. If not that, there's certainly a person and relationship conjured.

Examples?

Jonathan King "Everyone's Gone To The Moon" brings me to the very lightning bolt moment my High School english teacher lit the fire in me I would ignore until it repeatedly took me without permission.

The Seeds "Pushing Too Hard" brings me all the existential agony of my first girlfriend. And the scent of her body powder. And a warm night I sat miserable on the curb across the street from her house and was joined by my rival who silently sat and watched with me awhile and, as he sighed and left, said, "Give up. She belongs to nobody but him."

The Doors "Twentieth Century Fox" brings me every missed moment of the girl who should have been my first. Her ice-blue eyes framed by her wind-tossed chestnut mane still look back at me from the pillion seat of my best friend's motorcycle as I recklessly chase her backside off-road through the hills behind town.

Dave Mason "Look At You Look At Me" still whips up the earthquakes of first time being alone and away at college and the girl who sat behind 18-year-old me in Physics auditorium and discovered my first gray hair.

For me, it's as if music has pinned these moments -- not the memory of them, but the palpable gestalt of them -- into mind.

Might work for you?

[2021-07-25 1435]
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I'd prefer if posters wrote naif the way they used to....

I don't want to replace adolescent emotion with adult perspectives. I want to capture the energy & the moment of 1945/75/85 - provoking fantasy and longing and pleasure...
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I tried writing a love scene between two teen leads now...and find I couldn't. I don't feel "it" anymore.
Love is only one aspect of this. For example, I find it harder to recollect the trepidation and intenseness of trying something for the first time. One theory from the latest brain research people say that we lose these teen hormones, these angst chemicals so to speak. So we no longer feel any of this as we get older.

Anyway, if you are an older writer, what are some tips you would give for writing younger characters? How do you capture that passion again?
Ok so maybe you don't feel "it" anymore, but certainly, you must remember some of your thoughts. I don't feel teenage "it" anymore, thankfully. Much of it was misplaced and screwed up passion that served no purpose in my greater evolution. But things that were going on in my mind as a teenager are crystal clear. And that's the part that would be interesting to write about unless you're writing some kind of teen erotica. Just put yourself back there. Pick a scenario and start from the beginning and try remembering everything you can.

And if you really want to write about "it", then just make it up, like you would for any other emotion of a random character you are portraying. I'm sure there are plenty of romance novelists who write character emotions that they don't necessarily feel themselves. And other novelists too. Think about all the murder mysteries that get written every year. Have any of these novelists actually experienced murder in their lives? We can only imagine a combination of personal experiences, those we read about, and guesswork, and hope that we, as authors, evoke some kind of passion in our readers.
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
All I know how to write is teen characters. I'm only 23, so I have gained enough perspective to where it isnt complete trash or cringe but it was a state in my life I am still quite close to. I'm no longer depressed but that doesn't mean I no longer have the ability to write depression. It can be a bit harder to capture that angst but I remember a lot of my feelings based on abstract ideas I had or how I reacted to something rather than remembering the EXACT feeling. Even as an adult I still feel all kinds of emotions I thought were for kids and teens, maybe I'm not old enough yet to feel the complete bore. 🤷‍♀️ 🤷‍♂️
My advice is to remember your reaction and not so much the feeling. Remove the prospective you have as an adult and chug some caffeine until you start tweeking and feelings anxious. That should help you get in the right mind set
 
Last edited:

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think the most important traits for a writer to possess are a good memory and a vivid imagination.
When I write younger characters (practically everyone is younger than me) I recall what it was like to be that age - and suffer under the yoke of those all-too-consuming emotions.
 

Megan Pearson

Senior Member
Check out some writers who are writing for the teen market and read their blogs. How do they stay in character or, rather, how do their characters maintain a believable appeal to younger readers?

This first draft I dusted off last last winter to read through and start working on has some of this trouble. I wrote it almost 15 years ago while working at a place where the average employee's age was 19. (I wasn't 19.) The impetus for the story's theme came several months into the writing when one of the gals told me about the drama she was going through with her family. In a way, the angst and victory of her story became an inspiration for mine. I wanted my story to reach gals like her. So in a very real way, her story helped shaped the story I was writing to become a coming of age story even though I didn't realize the impact her story would have on me until much later.

So this winter, to remind myself of where I was when I wrote it, I wrote down what I could remember of the gal and what she told me. It was just a couple of pages, yet it helped me recapture some of the emotions I was feeling when I originally began writing the story and what it was that challenged me to write the story for someone like her. So I wrote those down, too. When I'm at a place where I can complete the story, returning to those emotional landmarks will be invaluable for preserving the tone as I edit it.

Maybe writing down what originally inspired you to write for a teen audience would help? Or, have you considered writing about something you're more emotionally close to? It might be easier--it's just an idea.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Start with a sort of template, load it with cliche & idiom until perfection descends, draft & draft on. Finally work appears complete, sincere, comprehensive:

YOUTH TEMPLATE v1

"I told so many stories on my social media until that one day my mental health was affected by boomers sharing atmospheres."

"My gosh, you mean boomers invaded your Tik-Toc? They disrespected you like Nazis during that old civil war?"

"So much worse than that. Imagine an ASMR video of your nails upon the clay."

"Really!"

"I need to consult followers, discover if I am the only one who believes in me on this journey."

"I believe in you because You deliver, Mary, if we can they-that today? Excuse-me, something stuck in my teeth. Write the story down Mary, write it down using a...I don't know the device exactly, like some tool - held in those teeth, perhaps?"

"A vape?"

"Like a vape that leaves a permanent trail across any screen."

"Genius."

"Yes."
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
Start with a sort of template, load it with cliche & idiom until perfection descends, draft & draft on. Finally work appears complete, sincere, comprehensive:

YOUTH TEMPLATE v1

"I told so many stories on my social media until that one day my mental health was affected by boomers sharing atmospheres."

"My gosh, you mean boomers invaded your Tik-Toc? They disrespected you like Nazis during that old civil war?"

"So much worse than that. Imagine an ASMR video of your nails upon the clay."

"Really!"

"I need to consult followers, discover if I am the only one who believes in me on this journey."

"I believe in you because You deliver, Mary, if we can they-that today? Excuse-me, something stuck in my teeth. Write the story down Mary, write it down using a...I don't know the device exactly, like some tool - held in those teeth, perhaps?"

"A vape?"

"Like a vape that leaves a permanent trail across any screen."

"Genius."

"Yes."
You forogt to mention astrology and Crystals ;)
 

KeganThompson

Senior Member
@Matchu 's hilarious template and @Megan Pearson 's advice about blog reading brings up a good point: it's not enough to remember, we have to update to the new teen culture. It's like asking what if I lived as a teen in today's world. Or we could just write about being a teen in an earlier era, but who would read that right?

Oh wait...Stranger Things...
I love watching stuff that takes place in the 80s tbh. Of course it's better when it was actually filmed then. I ain't too out of tune with the kids yet, though I think things have changed a bit even from 5 years ago lol. Youth is still on my side (for now)
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
A book that was so helpful to me, and this:

"I Give You My Body...": How I Write Sex Scenes
by Diana Gabaldon

The author explains a thousand ways of writing a sex scene. I find it useful regardless of the age of the protagonists.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top