Monday, June 14, 2010

Listening to teenagers

So... you think you want to write a book for young adults, huh?  Many agents say when they receive sample pages, they skip ahead to the first lines of dialogue. Many writers struggle with realistic dialogue - especially teenage dialogue.

To make things more challenging, teenage boys converse much differently than teenage girls. Truth! ha.

Girls are SO dramatic, in actions and in words.  Boys, on the other hand, can be very flat. Ah, yes... both are the stereotypes, but stereotypes exist for a reason.

Here's a conversation that occured between my son and another teenage boy yesterday. We were moving Mitchell into the dorms of a local university for a summer work program sponsored by the Idaho Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Mitchell leaned against the wall while he balanced a paper plate in one hand and a potato chip in the other.  He surveyed the group of boys and girls mingling and eating. Mitchell popped the potato chip into his mouth as a guy about his own age, maybe a year or two older, approached him and asked, "So what's your vision problem?"

Mitchell finished chewing and answered, "I can't see out of this eye." He used his thumb to indicate his right eye.

"Oh," the other boy nodded his head and squinted. "Cool." Then he shook his head and corrected, "I don't mean cool you're blind. I mean cool."

"Yah," Mitchell smiled. Both boys laughed. "How 'bout you?" Mitchell asked.  The other boy went on to explain how his right eye didn't work at all and he had no peripheal vision with his left eye.

... Could you imagine two bubbly outgoing girls having this same conversation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Lucky me, I get to spend this entire week observing and listening to girls aged twelve to eighteen. I'm in charge of thirty girls at girls' camp. YAY. (exclamation point intentionally left off... jk)  I plan to listen carefully and observe their interactions. I may even take a couple of notes. Then I plan to write lots when I get back into town.

I do have a book to finish.

Back to work!

Oh, by the way, have you heard any great dialogue between teens lately? Do share.

1 comment:

  1. I have 6 main characters in my book who are all teenagers. You are so right, I need to listen to some teens talk and pay more attention to their mannuerisms. Lucky I have a baby face and can blend in instead of looking like some creepy pedafile. Thanks for the idea, maybe I'll hit up a mall.