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Posts Tagged ‘children’

I may be an exception here, but when I see people comment on another author’s works I cringe when I see the critiquer claim, your mc is too insightful for an eighth grader, or your conversation doesn’t sound like a fifteen year old speaking.

Not to be too harsh on YA novels or children’s books, but I think most people give children too little credit.  As a young adult I never read YA literature, with the exception of Harry Potter, because I always thought the voice of most works sounded forced, and most of the time the characters were far too shallow for me to care about.  I’m actually amazed to discover a children’s author I was forced to read when I was eight years old is a celebrated and widely known author.  She currently has a movie coming out based on one of her works, but as an eight year old I remember distinctly rolling my eyes and putting the book down because the main character wasn’t real to me, even though her body was going through the same changes as mine at the time.

I concede that adolescents are, in general, more self-centered than adults, but that doesn’t mean that they do not grapple with deeper issues than friends, their hair, or love.  Many of my classmates dealt with the loss of a parent, one or both parents on drugs, being the only one able to care for their younger brothers and sisters and/or abuse. 

Currently I have a younger sister in high school and a brother in middle-school, while they aren’t always insightful and worldly, when tragic events occur, or one of their close friends is upset, they have enough knowledge to recognize that something significant has ocurred, and know the people they care about enough to offer insightful advice.

I fear some authors confuse immaturity with lack of intelligence.  Just because a character is immature, doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent, it only means that when tragedy does strike, the character either deals with it in a healthy way, or a non-healthy way.  Either way, just like people, a character can mature greatly at fourteen years old, or stay stunted until they are ready to face their issues and mature.   

If a character is like a person, than it shouldn’t matter that my character is only seventeen years old.  If she is intelligent, and that’s the way I’ve alway portrayed her, the fact that she knows Saddam Hussein was part of the Ba’athe party shouldn’t be an issue when she brings it up in conversation.  This should only be an issue if I’ve established my mc as a person of average intelligence and nothing before hand has prepared the reader for the sudden leap in intellect.

I would advise any person writing for YA to be wary when  a critiquer comments on your dialogue.  Ask yourself if it fits in with the character you created.  Adolescents are people too.  Not all of them fit into the stereotype that has been created and perpetuated in this genre and not all of them are geniuses, but each one has the ability to be insightful, coherent and most importantly the capacity to grow.

Do you really remember how you were as a tween and teen?  Were you really as shallow as some of the YA characters out there?  When you write about your YA character do you only incorporate the surface issue teens face, or do you try to add a deeper set of issues for your character to deal with?

Oops, my pencil seems to have gotten away during my rant.  Perhaps some nice teenager will find it and return it to me.

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This is my first roadtrip Thursday post, where YA Highway asks the question and I answer it.  Today’s question is what is your favorite reading memory?  Hmm….

Okay, so my favorite reading memory is lying in my bed and listening to my older sister read James and the Giant Peach. 

Now an even better question is, why is this my favorite reading memory?

When I was younger I shared my room not just with my older sister, but also with my younger sister and brother.  We would all cuddle into our beds and listen to our “OS”  while images of James inside the Giant Peach bounced around in our heads.  When our sister was finished we would talk about what happened and what we thought would come next.  Sharing the experience with siblings somehow made the story that much more magical and allowed us to connect on another level besides, “Mom so and so hit me again.” Which was probably a relief to my overwhelmed mother.

Since my then I have read Harry Potter to every single one of my younger brothers and sisters, as well as many nursery rhyme books.  I continue the tradition today with my niece and nephew and hope that one day Stinkypants will read to her little brother too.

So what about you?  Do you have a favorite reading memory?  If so what is it?

Now I’m off to find my pencil.  I seemed to have missplaced the darned thing again.

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