Hopefully the title doesn’t scare anyone off. I’m sure we all know that teenagers don’t talk like dat. . . Or do they? Mwhaha!
No, I’m kidding.
Anywho, YA novels are ALWAYS trending. If you’re going to write YA, you’re going to need to know how to write like a teenager.
Yes, I know that you’ve all been teenagers at some point (some more recently than others). I bet you want to argue that you know perfectly well how a teenager asks, so you don’t need to read this.
As an actual teenager, though, I’m going to tell you to put a sock in it, and just listen to me for a minute.
I’m serious when I say that the majority of the YA books I read, aren’t very true to teenage nature. They never completely capture the confusion a teenager has and the stress they go through. The older you get, the more you realize that your high school stresses were silly, so you down play them in your novels. You’re forgetting, though, that those stresses you down played are very terrifying when you’re ACTUALLY a teenager. Don’t down play them!
That’s only the beginning of what I want to say, though. I’ll start again.
I’m telling you, man, teens use slang.
They don’t all go around talking like gangsters, but they do have different ways of speaking than adults do. They have certain phrases that are ‘cool’ and they become autocorrect for speaking.
I mentioned before that I’m 16, hence, a teenager. I certainly know that I use some funky terms. Recently the big phrase everyone’s addicted to is ‘same.’ I don’t really understand it, but everyone I know gets stuck in the ‘same’ trap.
Also, teenagers create nicknames for each other. There’s the usual ‘man’, ‘dude’, and ‘girl’, but you can also come up with more unique ones. For example, my friends and I call each other ‘chica.’ I have no idea who started it, but the phrase seems to have no intension of dying out.
Not Everything Needs to Make Sense
Have you ever talked to a teenager and they try to say something but it just doesn’t make sense?
Just remember that teens aren’t adults. They don’t think about everything they’re about to say before they speak. Often they use words they don’t understand and talk too quickly for words to be comprehensible.
Yet, also don’t forget that teenagers have a weird way of understanding each other without many words being used. If your one character is blabbing on about nonsense another character should probably be able to translate it to the reader. It’s fun to play around with all the friendships your characters can have and create.
Oddly enough, teenagers are great actors. They act differently with everyone they know, so they’ve mastered the art of make believe.
Say your character is all sweet and shy around one person. Then they walk up to their best friend and they’re crazy, loud, and obnoxious. Even adults are this way so why has every author failed to write this into their stories?
Teenagers are liars (sometimes) and never let their true feelings show. Don’t let your teen character be too easy to understand or you’ll regret it later.
You were a teenager once, surely you STILL have jokes from high school you use.
Most teens are very light hearted. They’re stressed out, but they still have time for jokes with their friends. If your characters don’t joke around with their best friends, then I can’t imagine they are that close. . .
Once you hit seventh grade, you’re suddenly exposed to a brand new language: swearing. Once again, teens like to act older than they are so they swear, a lot.
I understand that sometimes the rating of your book doesn’t permit using the actual words, but go for the Rick Riordan method (author of the Percy Jackson series and many others). His publishing company is Disney so he has to be very careful of his content. To get around his character’s swearing, he just says, ‘cursing’. Sometimes they swear in Greek, but otherwise the actual words they use never appear in writing.
If you are capable of going for gold with the swears then just be aware that some of your characters may have potty mouths. Not all of them should be this way obviously, but the majority, especially ‘tough’ men, will be fluent in ‘swears’.
Teenagers are suddenly very exposed to hormones. They’re all over the place sexually and they like to express this. They ‘talk dirty’ (to put it nicely) when they’re attracted to someone. They’ll even do it jokingly to their friends.
Don’t lie and say you haven’t ever pretended to act like your in love with your friends as a joke. Teenagers are weird, but you already know that.
No, not all your characters need to be telling girls that they have a good ‘rack’ or anything, but your ‘bad boy’ characters may do so.
It’s all up to you!
What goes best with acting? Drama.
Teenagers are super dramatic! They get a cut, and they think they’re dying. Their boyfriend breaks up with them, and they’re suddenly creating schemes for revenge.
Teenagers are just one big hyperbole.
I don’t even know how else to describe this topic. Teenagers are a mess and they like to believe exactly that. They’re melodramatic to put it nicely.
Of course, these tips shouldn’t apply to all your characters. Some teenagers are nothing like the majority of their breed.
Just make sure your teenagers stay realistic to their nature.