Short piece on writing for young adults in today's world. First appeared in November Issue, #3 of Awe-Struck FLASH - Official Newsletter of Awe-Struck E-Books - A Publisher of fine electronic books
Gracie C. McKeever © 2000
What do today's teenagers want? What are their fears, hopes, dreams? What bakes their noodles and tickles their fancies? How different are these conditions from what was "in" when we were young?
Consider recent teen movies: American Pie; Ten Things I Hate About You; She's All that; Never Been Kissed; the dark and off-beat Jawbreaker, the underplayed unappreciated, Teaching Miss Tingle and, perhaps their most popular predecessor, Clueless. Take into account the underlying themes of this roster and one element rings true .
Teens are interested in and want all the same things we wanted (still want). They want acceptance, love, success, freedom and majority (or at least to be grown enough to "do what they want and not have to do everything adults tell them to do"… Oh, if they only knew…). Teens want to have fun. They want to fit in. They're angst ridden and confused. They're driven and intelligent. They are--in a nutshell and as the teen book market refers to them, Young Adults--prone to the same urges, frailties and strengths as all humans. The entertainment industry has firmly embraced these concepts, granted not always with innocuous and positive results.
In my own work—both with teen leads and others featuring children and young adults in supporting and pivotal roles--I've also tried to tap into this kids-are-people-too concept. Though I observe the media trends peripherally and only as much as cross-genre interests permit, I do try to stay in touch with my "inner teen" as much as possible. I haven't yet done the Never Been Kissed routine and gone back to high school (I'm not THAT brave.) But I do talk with my nieces (one just 12 and one 17) and see what's important to them (hmm, The Rock, Derek Jeter, PlayStation, boys, jewelry, hip fashion, pop music, hip-hop, boys, TV, BET, MTV, boys, shopping at the mall, parties, gossip, boys…you get the picture ).
In light of all of the above and my own experiences, I have come to the glaring and ambiguous conclusion that the more trends change, the more they stay the same.