The question in the title might be a silly question. Of course I can write teen fiction; there’s no great and powerful force in the universe preventing me from writing teen fiction (OR IS THERE? Now that’s an idea for a story…), and I’m a firm believer in writing whatever the hell you want to write. So a more accurate, specified version of the question would be to ask if I can write teen fiction (dot dot dot) and be successful at it. Not necessarily on a professional level, because, clearly, there’s definitely a market for teen fiction, especially of the paranormal nature, but just on the basis of being able to create a story that’s really, really good. That not only appeals to the teen audience, but would also be appreciated by those of us who figure you can be a Young Adult at any age.
This Teen Fantasy Fiction contest of Morgan Dragonwillow’s has really gotten the gears in my brain going. Morgan sent me a wonderful and encouraging email, shedding some light on what exactly makes teen fantasy different from regular fantasy, and it’s mostly the subject matter. Instead of tapping into the power of good versus evil like high fantasy might do, it’s a bit more of good versus evil while trying not to make a doofus out of yourself in front of that cute boy you like. It’s dealing with the supernatural in the world while also dealing with the natural irritation of puberty and, while you may be balancing two different realms, you’re also struggling to keep the balance of still being a kid in some ways, but an adult in the others. The possibilities are ripe with allegory and symbolism, and there’s a treasure trove of high octane emotions to tap into.
I think I can definitely do teen fiction. I’ve started reading more teen fiction, and they do a wonderful job of evoking those long past years when I could call myself a teen….and, being in my twenties, there are still moments when you feel stuck between that line of still kind of being a teenager at heart as well as a blossoming professional Full Fledged Adult. There’s a series I’ve tried to write so many times, which I sometimes refer to as “kind of like Harry Potter in space,” though it’s really much more like “Harry Potter meets Ender’s Game.” I can never seem to get it right, never quite being satisfied with the angle, and I’ve considered making it more of a young adult series. Some of the young adult fiction I’ve read recently has suggested that I needn’t shy away from some of the aspects I wouldn’t have wanted to numb down younger audiences…sex and violence and that sort of thing. I feel I’m going to come away from this contest with a better grip on writing for this age set, and maybe, just maybe, that’ll be the time to finally tackle this series. My skills will be honed and ready for the kill.
Do you write teen/young adult fiction? Even better, do you read much of it? What advice would you give to a fledgling traipsing along the cusp of that world, uncertain if she should cross on over, or just stay on the side for the grown-ups?
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I used to read a lot of teen fiction. If you’re still in the reading mood, I strongly recommend Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns by John Green. If you have to choose one or the other, Looking for Alaska is probably the most heart wrenching, and my favorite, so dig that one first 🙂 But, anyway, as far as advice goes (and I’m sure if you’ve gotten advice from a teenfic writer you probably heard this already), the biggest element is the “coming of age” aspect. Every protagonist has to learn a lesson, change as a person and what have you. But when you’re writing adult fiction, your protagonist usually just becomes a better or more enlightened person in some way. But with teen fiction, your protagonist takes a critical step away from youth and into the realm of adulthood in some way, hopefully some important way that will resonate with your teen readers. Cause that’s what teens want to do: grow up. Little do they know when they get to our age they’re gonna wish they savored their youth a little more. Vicious circle. That’s why I love reading teen fiction, it’s like a little time machine back to the days when my only concerns were whether or not my makeup looked good enough for school and what my boyfriend would think of my brand new jeans. Now I want to teen fiction… Blah. Anyway, good luck! I hope to read what you come up with 🙂