We are super excited to welcome Siobhan Curham, author of new release YA novel The Moonlight Dreamers, to the Shelf, thanks to Walker Books Australia. We reviewed The Moonlight Dreamers earlier today on the blog, and now Siobhan is with us to share some tips for all you budding YA writers on how to create authentic teen characters.
Take it away Siobhan!
HOW TO WRITE AUTHENTIC TEEN CHARACTERS
I guess the first thing I would say if I were advising someone on how to write authentic teens is:
don’t be patronising.
The way some adults talk about teens it’s as if they’re describing some kind of alien life form – full of suspicion and fear. Or they treat them like over-grown children. It’s like they’ve forgotten that they were ever once a young adult!
Which brings me on to my next point:
remember what it’s truly like to be a teen.
When I think back to my own teenage years I remember it being a pretty intense time; a time of so many ‘firsts’. First love, first exam stress, first job, first holiday with friends, first time living away from your family, first alcoholic drink, first hangover, first adult choices.
I also remember it being a pretty scary time. You don’t yet have the benefit of decades of experience and so, when things go wrong, it can be hard to have faith in the belief that, ‘this too shall pass’. The pain of a break-up, or a failed exam, or the death of a loved one, or your parents’ divorce can be overwhelming and it can be really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
On the other hand, young adults aren’t jaded by decades of experience, so they’re able to embrace life and new ideas with freshness and optimism. I’m reminded of this every time I give a talk in a high school or run a workshop for teens and I find it so inspiring. It’s definitely something I try to inject into my teen characters.
There’s a quote by the writer e. e. cummings that I think perfectly sums up the teenage years:
‘It takes courage to grow up and become the person you really are.’
This idea is at the heart of my novel, The Moonlight Dreamers. Yes, the teenage years can be scary, and yes, it’s hard to become the person you really are, when society, the media and the internet might want you to be something you’re not. But if you can find the courage to be your true self and dare to dream your true dreams, then what a great life you’re creating for yourself.
We’d like to say a big thank you to Siobhan for sharing her wisdom with us and for providing such an uplifting read in The Moonlight Dreamers.
Until next time,