Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Finding your YA voice

My senior photo

Along with Debbie, I’ve recently committed myself to learning more about the elusive thing known as “voice.” This began because, like my critique buddy, I’ve been repeatedly told I have a middle grade voice. I take that as a great compliment and embrace it. But (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) I have an idea for a YA book and would really like to expand my skills and nail the YA voice.
Turns out I’m more in tune with my inner-twelve-year-old. But I’ve been working hard to get in touch and reconnect with my inner-sixteen-year-old. It may not be very scientific, but here are some ways I’ve been trying to do that lately:
Reminisce about my first, high school love. Fortunately, I married the guy so this has been easy for me! I’ve been asking myself: What made me fall in love with him? What kinds of things did we do (including those things we *don’t* tell our three kids about - ha ha)? What did we fight about? What dreams did we have as a couple?  
Listen to the music I listened to in high school. It’s amazing how hearing Melloncamp’s “Jack and Diane” or Prince’s “DMSR” takes me right, smack back sixteen. 
Watch shows that are popular with today’s teens like Glee, Skins and Teen Mom. These shows may or may not accurately reflect today’s teens true experience, but they’re still good when you’re trying to tap into dialog and possible story lines. (Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom - guilty pleasures of mine since season one - especially remind me how girls that age think and how they tend to romanticize relationships.) 
Pay closer attention to my older teenagers. Yes, they’re boys but they have girl friends and girlfriends. I eavesdrop when I can on their conversations and ask about who’s posting what on Facebook etc. And I’m trying to remember what it was like to learn to drive and decide on a college - things very much on their minds these days. 
Keep in touch with high school friends. Awhile ago, a former classmate found me via Facebook. So now I can keep in touch with her as well as other classmates. 
Going to my class reunion site. Though I didn’t attend the last class reunion, there are lots of pictures and seeing those familiar faces can help bring back memories. If I still had them, I’d also go through my old yearbooks, too. (Speaking of class reunions - there is no freaking way *I* should be having a 25 year reunion! I'm too young. Ack!) 
Any other ideas for reconnecting with your inner teenager you’d like to share?



  1. Going through letters, notes or emails between you and your friends in high school (if you can uncover them).
    My Blog

  2. Weren't you pretty? You still are, of course!
    I wish I could walk through the streets of my old neighborhood. I'd probably burst into tears.

  3. Wow, it's clear you were WAY cooler in high school than I was. All my school photos are so nerdy!

    Great post. :-)

  4. You were and still are so pretty! I thought it was a picure of a movie star. Maybe that's your secret identity you've never told us about.

    Great post. I guess for me, being with my students and always reading YA books helps.


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