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Message Board Topic 11/26


Comsie

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It would be an outright lie to say that I could honestly and truthfully write the stories I do from a teenager's point of view in this day in age. I just don't know it if would ever be possible for me to do that. It's a reality and a challenge that I simply have to face with every word that I write.

 

Why, you ask? It's simple, I'm not a teenager anymore.

 

The stories I write may have many 'themes' and situations that can RELATE to today's teenagers, and I believe you guys (under eighteen) have definitely gotten the idea of what I'm trying to do. But there's a definite gap there. For example, I look back at some of my own work, and mention teens meeting up at an arcade. Hehehe, anyone going to an arcade THESE days (now that home systems rival what you can find anywhere else) will tell you that it's not the teen mecca that it used to be when I was growing up. When I was in high school, everybody didn't HAVE a private cell phone, there WERE no MySpace pages, and even a 'suggested' gay characer in a movie or on tv was something to be laughed at or despised. Times are different now. And when today's teenagers turn 30, the next generation will be drastically different as well.

 

So...this week's question is...is it possible to write a teenage love story from a teenager's point of view, and have it resonate as strongly as an author would want it to? Is the generation gap too wide to cross? How can anyone expect to make a story timeless if everything changes every five years? Whatever your thoughts are on the changing times, how can an author keep up and truly bring some old feelings and memories to a younger audience?

 

Let us know! :)

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The short answer is yes -- because the basics of a love story remain the same. It is only the context, the detail, that is changing.

 

If the story concentrates on the people and not the environment, it becomes a story that will span generations. It'll still get dated -- you can't avoid the context completely -- but other generations will still understand and feel the story.

 

Oh, and while generations are changing, the change is not universal. For example, some, but not all, of my nephews have mobile phones. Most, if not all, do NOT have MySpace or Facebook pages -- they are not computer guys. They are the outdoors "let's play" or "let's build something" guys, not the "let's play Halo" guys.

 

Concentrate on the people, and not the setting, and the story will still resonate.

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If the story concentrates on the people and not the environment, it becomes a story that will span generations. It'll still get dated -- you can't avoid the context completely -- but other generations will still understand and feel the story.

 

Oh, and while generations are changing, the change is not universal. For example, some, but not all, of my nephews have mobile phones. Most, if not all, do NOT have MySpace or Facebook pages -- they are not computer guys. They are the outdoors "let's play" or "let's build something" guys, not the "let's play Halo" guys.

 

Concentrate on the people, and not the setting, and the story will still resonate.

 

I agree with Graeme.

 

It's not what the characters are doing it's what they're feeling. Focus on feelings and you can put the story in any environment.

 

I try not to have a lot of time specific color in my stories, which means I have to concentrate on bringing in something that will date the story like a news event or actually putting a date into the narrative.

 

I also feel a writer doesn't have to write stories that occur in today's timeframe to be relevant to teens. If the story is interesting, the characters believable, the setting can be at any time in history, forward or backward or now.

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I totally agree with Graeme here, the answer is yes. It's the same thing for every story,, the best ones, the ones that goes thru time, have more often than not one thing in common, it is concentrated on the people and how they interact with each other.

 

if that part of the story is good, then the reader will forget about the environment.

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Just to strengthen the arguments used before me: I haven't a mobile phone (though I used to) :) to be fair, while I don't have a MySpace profile, I have the equivalent that is most popular in the Netherlands, a Hyves profile, and I AM a computer guy, though I don't play Halo.

 

I also think the answer is yes, though. I know I certainly relate to your stories, always have, Comsie, and almost any other teen story I read that wasn't written by a teen. Usually moreso than any that were written by a teen, actually! I agree that the changes are in the details and aren't completely universal. Even if they were, I'd probably still be more interested in a story about an arcade than one about a love sprouting from a Halo match (though... ((giggle))... one of my stories has something similar to that)!

 

So, the changes aren't usually in the important things enough to really throw a 'modern teen' reader out of the storyline, although there are a few that are (that suggested gay character ridiculing, maybe? That could also be a cultural thing though, I wouldn't know). But even so, I think an author should trust their audience to accept the possible 'flaws' that come from this time difference. In the end, it's the world from the author's mind that matters for the story, not the world the readers are used to. They'll still relate.

 

This is how I usually talk to myself when I tell myself I don't know a damn about the English schooling system and how it differs from the Dutch one... I usually just kind of create my own version of a schooling system and convince myself the reader will be okay with that :lol:

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