Welcome to my stop on Christa Desir's Fault Line Blog Tour, hosted by Mundie Girl Tours. Check out the guest post below:
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.
But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.
Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?
Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.
FINDING YOUR INNER TEENAGER
So. I originally was going to write a blog post about what it’s like writing from the POV of a 17yo boy as a 38yo woman. But frankly, that post has been written beautifully and in several forums by A.S. King, Stephanie Kuehn, and Carrie Mesrobian. If you haven’t read their posts on it, you should go check them out.
Instead, I thought I would blog about what it’s like writing for a teenager when I am obviously not one. Because we ALL do this (unless we’re prodigies and publishing as teens). And this question doesn’t seem to be asked all that often. The writing a different gender or race question comes up A LOT, but somehow no one has ever asked about writing from the point of view of a teenager.
The thing is, no matter what age/gender/race/etc that you write from, there are some universal human truths that we’re all working from. We all know love, joy, sorrow, anger, compassion, humiliation, defeat, terror, etc. So when I’m writing from a teen’s POV, the first thing I do is consider how that might look different for them than for me.
Let’s take humiliation (because I’m very familiar with this one!). When I was a teenager, the stakes of humiliation were so much higher than they are as an adult. Which is sort of funny because you’d think the stakes increase as we age, but actually, in this case they don’t. Because fitting in is such an integral part of the teenage existence (even fitting in as a misfit), being humiliated is a VERY BIG deal. And there are so many opportunities for humiliation in a high school setting. So if I’m writing about what humiliation would look like, I have to dig deep and either remember a humiliation I experienced as a teen or come up with a comparable adult humiliation and describe those feelings.
A few months ago, I was writing a scene about a girl who was caught dancing goofy on a video and the video was passed around online. As an adult, I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that I’m a bad dancer and now I embrace my goofy style (think the dancing scene in “Can’t Buy Me Love”). So my adult reaction was NBD, it’s a video of goofy dancing. But then I see how my nieces and nephews and teen betas post things on FB, and I realize that it’s a VERY big deal. Everything is so careful that they post. Every picture is perfect of the girls and of the guys, most pictures are them doing something ridiculous (like painting their chests green for a football game). And this is all important. Girls can’t do ridiculous things like goofy dance (unless they’re intentionally being outsiders which is a whole different category or unless they’re doing it with several girlfriends which is then okay) and have that posted on FB. It would be humiliating.
So I then have to dig deep into my own life and come up with that feeling as a teen or an equivalent feeling as an adult. This, luckily, was a no brainer for me. A month ago, my Julio was out of town and I texted him, I missed waking up next to you this morning. Only it turns out I texted my pastor instead. (Oh Christa). This is what adult humiliation looks like, and what it feels like. This is how I found the emotional landscape of the goofy dance video teenager.
And this is what we do as writers. We take universal truths, universal emotions and we mine our own lives to get them right. And part of that requires remembering what caused us joy, sorrow, humiliation, defeat, etc as a teenager (or at the very least, being very observant in what causes those emotions in the teens around you). And the other part requires us to get into that head space as adults. That is how we connect with teens in our writing. And the more real the feeling is, the more teens will connect with us.
Christa Desir is a YA author who loves dark contemporary books. Her debut novel, FAULT LINE, comes out from SimonPulse October 15, 2013. Her second novel BLEED LIKE ME will be released from SimonPulse in Fall 2014.
Christa is also a feminist, rape victim activist, and romance novel editor. She lives outside of Chicago with her awesome husband and their three small children.