Dear Editor…

I’ve been told that the main character in my teen novel sounds too sophisticated. I’m forty-six years old! How can I sound like a teen?

Too Old in Idaho

Dear Too Old in Idaho…

I have a hunch your writing is missing a key element of the teen persona: melodrama. Think about it—with a teen, things aren’t bad, they “suck, big time.” And moms don’t get mad, they “freak out” or their “heads explode” or there’s the classic, “she’s gonna kill me!” They don’t self-analyze, they just react—and that reaction is usually overboard. They certainly don’t say, “I was curt, even to Pam.” Instead they say, “I even ripped into Pam for no good reason. Some friend I am. Here, Pam, let me shove you off a cliff while I’m at it. God, I can be such a jerk.” The things that happen to your teen protagonist should rattle her cage, big time. Let her be melodramatic about it, let her judge herself and others harshly, erroneously, and/or quickly. Inject a little melodrama into your character’s personality . . . you’ll sound thirty years younger in no time.

Happy writing!
The Editor