Outta the Mouths of Babes

January 14, 2010 at 7:05 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

When it comes to the Young Adult genre, language is important. In a book, you can’t have a teen talking like a 30-old-year-old woman, just like you can’t have a 30-year-old woman talking like a teen. It’s weird. So you have to use the right teen wordage – otherwise, it doesn’t sound authentic. As an example:

What? Oh, my god. Seriously? Crap. Yeah, I’m pretty much screwed. Life is, like… lame.

Let’s see how these words can transform a piece of literature into a truly great piece of YA literature.

It was pretty much the worst time ever and, yeah, the best time ever, it was like an age of wisdom, but everyone was stupid, it was the epoch of belief, but it didn’t make any sense, life was great, life was lame, everything was totally perfect, everything was made of crap, and oh my God, it was seriously screwed up.

True, I’m exaggerating here. Do teens really talk like that in everyday life? Most of us skew towards the more adult side of the spectrum. Ever-hyper narration can get annoying.

Nonetheless, experiment with inserting some verbiage like this into your writing if you don’t already. Especially with contemporary, a casual phrasing here or there (or everywhere, if that’s your style) is great. As long as you don’t overdose, yeah – it helps with nailing down the teenage voice, an area in which even teenage writers sometimes encounter problems.

Pretty much, you gotta like, get this lame thing. Seriously, right? What do you think?

~ Emilia



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  1. *laughs out loud*

    Yeah, language is, like, really important if your book has to feel authentic. Overdoing it..well, that’s the problem.
    Great post :))

  2. I don’t think I use “teen language” as much as I should sometimes. For example, some characters would never in a million years stoop so low as to say “Like, OMG! Totally!” or whatever, but others tend to say that every two sentences. I need to remember that with dialogue and the such…

  3. lmao! This is really funny, and has given me an idea for my WIP. Cheers :D

  4. Ah, the joys of teen jargon. I’ve been able to avoid that nest of problems for a while, thanks to my fantasy-based WIP. I’m always afraid current phrases will date the book. “Sweet” shall become the next “groovy”, if you know what I mean. But I must agree about the authenticity thing. Great post!! =D

  5. I definitely fight with this every day that I’m writing. I guess it all depends on what your MC is like. If you have one who’s bubbly and hyper, I can totally justify throwing in a few likes. But sometimes your MC is more mature of reserved, I try to keep them out.
    While I do you like and totally and, yes, even OMG! in my everyday conversation, it can look like overload on paper.
    Sigh. The never ending push/pull, too much/not enough of the writing world.
    Great post!

  6. LMFAO Emilia.
    You could probably write a modern-day Dickens spinoff with that voice!
    “Like, that time in my life sucked, okay, so yeah, they were drinking days and we all drank hardddd.”

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