Monday, May 9, 2011

Where Did That Come From? -- Voice

I am not what I would consider old. At the same time, it's been nearly 15 years since I was in high school. It's hard to feel like I have an authentic grasp of what teens today are thinking and feeling. This is a problem when I want to write YA books.

Fortunately for me, I grew up in one of those typical Mormon families. You know. The Osmonds. A dozen kids spanning twenty years? Except in my case, it was 8 kids. I am 3 months shy of being 19 years older than my littlest brother. (I'm the oldest.)When he was really small, people asked me if I was his mom. And I could have been.My brother just turned 13 a few months ago. (And yes, if you want to do the math, I'm 32.)

I also have a sister who is in high school. She's a junior. Just got her driver's license. Fairly outgoing, but not the top of the social ladder. She has the typical group of friends and they do typical high school things. And, of course, there is a fairly standard dose of teenage drama. Over the last several days, she has come over to my house and unfolded the saga of the two friends who can't be friends. While the story is just about what you would expect, there are several things that I take away from the conversations. First, I'm really, really. really glad to be out of high school. Second, I have a great reminder of what it is like to be a teenager. I hear what words and phrases she uses. And I remember what is important to someone her age. She helps me recognize my teen voice.

How about you, friends? How do you find that inner voice of a younger self?

10 comments:

Sierra Gardner said...

I have two sisters who are 12 and 14 so that helps a bunch! I also tutor middle schoolers and (if desperate) will hang out at the mall and eavesdrop. =)

Jess said...

I have a soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old girl that supplies plenty of stories regarding teenage drama (much of it due to miscommunication on texts and Facebook). I, too, am glad to be out of high school. I also have a 13-year-old stepson who's immature enough to supply me with middle grade humor. That boy always has the giggles/chuckles about something :)

Ashley Nixon said...

Ugh. lol. I'm only three years out of school, almost four. And I know I hate the idea of returning to High School. I don't know how those years were deemed "the best years of your life" but whoever said that was wrong! Honestly, I can't write YA fiction. I can't get into that mindset...it's boring for me to write (not read). That's why I stick with fantasy! :)

FantasticFiction said...

Lol. I'm a sophomore in Highschool, so I guess I'm still in that phase...My novels don't include school, though. Hell, My MC was tutored and never went to school cause he's a warrior.

ali said...

You are so lucky to that your siblings to help keep that voice fresh in your mind! AND to have YA readers read your blog! I have no idea how I keep up with the YA voice. I think it's because I just never really grew up. Or I might totally stink, and I just don't realize it. ;)

Myrna Foster said...

I'm one of the younger sibs, so I hang out with my nieces and nephews. They're a riot.

Michelle Merrill said...

I'm from a big family too (10 kids) but I was toward the bottom. My youngest brother just got out of high school last year so he's not much help. Being in YW for almost four years really helped! Great post. It can be hard to get the YA voice just right. I just had an agent tell me that my MC sounded more MG. Grr. It was frustrating to hear but I'm hoping my changes correct that :)

By the way, you won a critique on my blog :)

Nisa said...

Um... I just never grew up? lol! Fortunately for me I don't write YA.

Ben Spendlove said...

So I'm reading that you've been out of high school for almost 15 years and thinking, "at least I'm not that old. Oh, she's 32. Wait. I'll be 32 NEXT WEEK! Holy cow, it's been 14 YEARS since I graduated!"

Thanks a lot. ;)

Ben Spendlove said...

I guess that means I think I'm younger than I really am.