Most teen authors are not teens themselves, but we were all teenagers once. When I’m writing, sometimes I find it difficult to get into the right mindset. It’s been *gasp* ten years since I was sixteen years old with worries that didn’t extend far past homework, tests and learning to drive. I can imagine that connecting to my former teenage self while writing will only become tougher with time. We grow, age, evolve and get set in our ways. Delving into the teen mindset and relating to present-day teens may become ever more difficult. Here are a few suggestions to help reconnect with your inner teenager:
Reminisce with your Old Stuff
In my room at my parent’s house, there are tons of items that bring up old memories from high school. I have a box of notes that my friends and I exchanged. Reading through them conjures up a picture of that day, maybe some drama between friends but usually just the excessive boredom of pre-calculus. Also, there are piles of school papers (with varying doodles in the margins) in the basement and mismatched photo albums in the dresser drawers. If I want to reminisce and remember who I was during high school to connect with the teenager that I was, diving into these papers, pictures and notes are a great resource.
Experience what your Character Experiences
Is your character a teenage drama queen with tons of magazine subscriptions? Then I would suggest reading those magazines, or even subscribing yourself. Is your character a punk rocker type who always has music blasting? Listen to the music they would while you write. Basically, try to experience what your character would, whether it’s movies, music, television, even websites and food. It may be difficult if your character is from the past, future or not of this world, but you might still be able to find a connection. For example, if you have a Katniss-like character, you can spend time hiking in the woods or even sign up for archery lessons.
Interact with Real Live Teens
Not in a creepy way, please. But, if you have the time and desire, volunteer at the local high school, Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, etc. If there’s an opportunity to volunteer where teens congregate in your community, you can learn a lot by interacting with them. If you have a particular aptitude, you can try your hand at tutoring or proctoring (e.g. SATs, ACTs). However, if you don’t have time for such an investment, then considering observing at the mall, movie theater or local coffee shop. Just don’t stare too much. Those mall cops on Segways are always around the next corner.
Hope these tips help you reconnect with your inner teenager and by extension, your teen character!