1. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    How do you Write as a teen?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by kingzilla, Jan 27, 2012.

    In my book, I am writing as a fourteen year old who is a leader of a medieval republic. My main problem is while I want to the reader to think of him as a teen who has been thrusted into a seat of power, I seem to drift towards him looking like a complaining teen. Am I the only one who has had a character who seems to want to be something that you don't want it to be? Should I accept the character as a complaining teen or what? What is kind of ironic is that I am fourteen so I thought it would be easy to write this character, but wow have I been wrong....

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't have to write as a teen to make your character act like a teen. I wasn't sure what you meant with the title in combination with saying that the character is becoming something you don't want him to be... How do you want this character to appear?
     
  3. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    I don't really know what you mean by "complaining teen". I mean, I understand what you're saying but I guess that could be interpreted in a few ways.

    Anyway, one thing that might give off the teenage kind of outlook for you character (if you are going to drift away from the "complaining teen" thing) is a mix between doubt and sometimes acting a bit childish about certain things (even if they don't show it). When I was fourteen I was extremely complicated. I was a classic overthinker that masqueraded as a go-with-the-flow kid. Everything around me DID make an impression in my head, even if I didn't go to the mall and buy a closet full of new clothes because of it. (If that makes any sense. if not, I can explain it more). Getting into the psychology aspect of your story might help you go a little deeper than a complaining teen.

    Also, fun fact, when you are around the age of fourteen is when you start making your own choices in society. The most prominent of these being in music. The music that you listen to when you're fourteen is always something special, always holds a certain emotion whenever you listen to it because it's one of the first things that you really CHOSE yourself.
    I feel that you could, in some way, incorporate this into you story somehow, and it would make it really cool. But that's just my opinion.

    Well there's my two cents. Take it or leave it (or if you have questions, please ask).
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think your problem seems to be that you're thinking of your character as a "teen," rather than as someone of his personality type who has his interests, fears and motivations. Think of him as a person, rather than as a teenager. No teen is alike, but there are many stereotypes, and it seems that viewing your MC as primarily a teen will lead to stereotypes. Not that there's anything wrong with a character who happens to have some stereotypical traits, but you want to avoid cookie-cutter generalizations.

    If you're trying to flesh out his personality, go online and look up Myers-Briggs personality typing. It might help you a lot.
     
  5. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    How historically accurate do you intend it to be? Fourteen-year-olds back then were less developed than they are now: he's likely to have a mental age of twelve by today's standards.

    That said, the twelve-year-old's back then would be a lot more 'adult' - they'd not have been sheltered so much from adult concepts. They'd have known all about sex and politics and war, having experienced many of those things first-hand. He would be a hunter, a warrior, and a scholar by that age - if a simplistic and inexperienced one.
     
  6. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    @Gallowglass

    Forgot to mention that while it is 'based' in the medieval age, the people act as old as their age.

    @Mallory

    I can see what you mean. My character is definitely beginning to look like a stereo type, which is not what I want. I will look up the Myers-Briggs, see if that helps. Thanks for the reply :D.

    @AxleMAshcraft

    He constantly complains about every kind of mission/quest he has to do. I can see what you mean when you say I should make him act childish and with doubt. I tried to make him childish in my book, but I never really added any part where he has much doubt. I will see if I can add that to my character. Thanks for the reply :).

    Tesoro

    I guess the title is misleading, I was trying to be general though. To make it more clear, when I write as him I try to make an impression of a teen who is feeling overwhelmed with his power, but when I have shown my work to people they have told me they think of him as 'complaining about his life'. Not exactly what I want, I want them to feel sorry for him.
     
  7. Mjolnir
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    Mjolnir Member

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    One thing I have found helpful during character creation is to not over define the character. I start by establishing all the necessary details like age, appearance, history, etc. Then I form a very basic idea of the character's personality, but after that, I try to allow the character room to grow into the story. Sometimes it comes exactly as I would have planned it and sometimes the character takes a whole new direction that may be even more suitable to the story. The key for characters is the same for all aspects of creative writing. Try to let it flow as naturally as possible rather than trying to force it into a rigid mold.

    As, for your specific problem, I'm not entirely sure of your definition of "complaining," but keep in mind that most fourteen year-olds are still struggling to control their emotions, no offense intended. It is natural for someone so young, especially one thrust into a new and uncomfortable situation, to react emotionally. Being a teen yourself, puts you in a unique perspective to understand your character. Try talking to your peers and, more importantly, listening to them. How do they react to adverse situations? This should give a good base for your character. Hope this helps.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One thing I remember about being around fourteen (and this was true of many other fourteen-year-olds I knew) was that I was very self-centered. My ego was too big and too fragile. It wasn't until later that I realized that, by giving time, credit, and respect to others, I was not diminishing myself. It took me a while to realize that if, for example, I lost an argument to someone, it didn't diminish me; I learned from it and became a wiser and stronger person. I think a lot of young teens have fragile egos in this way.

    Maybe part of your character's journey could be learning to accept defeat without accepting despair. As Nietzsche said, "what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." That's a tough lesson for a kid to learn.

    I don't know if that helps, but I'm throwing it out there anyway.
     
  9. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    No problem :) Sounds like a good novel idea, keep it up !
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Is your problem figuring out how to write like a teen?

    Or is it how to write a teenager who suddenly has the weight of the world thrust upon his shoulders?

    I suspect the latter is what iis taking you to where your experiences of living as a teenager, and among other teens, won't help you. Perhaps you can think of times you were given more responsibility than you were ready for, and extrapolate from that.
     
  11. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    hmm.. i jsut so happen to be turning fourteen in three months... :|
     
  12. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    OK, tip: I'm a teen as well, and it is very frustrating at times. Tip though if you are writing a book: I find that my characters usually speak for themselves. They may also be a bit of a reflection of you or someone you know.

    Bit short but then the best things always came i little packages ;)
     
  13. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    I am not yet fourteen (but there can't be too much difference between me now and me two years from now, so hopefully I can help anyway). I am unsure what you mean by "complaining teen" - do you mean a stereotypical teen who is always grumpy and seems to hate their parents and all that? A "complaining teen" isn't necessarily a bad thing, but try not to make them a stereotype. I agree with AxleMAshcraft in that they shouold still seem a bit childish at times, and with Mallory in that "teen" does not in any way describe who he is and what he's like. That's like saying "adult" and expecting the reader to know immediatly what personality that impies. So try to make him a human being, a character with character, if you will. Make him more than just his stage of life.
     
  14. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    No, in fact the opposite.

    Physically, what you say is sort of true. When you enter puberty is dependant on your nutrition, and they were less well-nourished back then. It wasn't uncommon for a young woman to have her first period at 18. Upper classes matured more quickly because they were fed better, and for them it would only have been a bit slower or the same as modern times. Was the character raised in the upper classes, or is he a rags to riches type? If he's a rags to riches kid, his pubertal development may be delayed.

    But in terms of mental development, or in particular emotional maturity, kids grew up faster in the middle ages. Farm kids would often start to work alongside their parents as young as 3 or 4 (doing very simple work at first, but still). Some kids worked outside the home starting from 6 to 8 years old, in jobs such as coal mining. Many would leave home to be apprenticed for a trade around 10-12 years old. However, lower classes typically married relatively late, because it took them a long time to earn enough money to get their own place and be able to support a family. Often the man would be older than his wife, because women were less likely to work, but many women did still work, as maids or housekeepers or other traditionally female jobs.

    Upper class kids, of course, were not expected to work, but they were expected to behave well in public appearances even at very young ages, and were often married off early (especially girls - some girls were married as young as 4 or 5, though they didn't consummate the marriage until their teens). By 14, an upper class girl might be a mother already, especially if her husband was older than her. Many upper class kids had tutors and got quite a bit of schooling, all the time being told how essential it was that they learn these skills for the state. The heirs would often start being involved in affairs of state by their teens, and if their father died, a teenaged heir could very well be the one ruling. (He might have a regency, but unlikely - that was more for younger rulers. Still, regency in large part depended on whether there was a potential regent who saw a chance to seize the role, so they could push it for a teenaged ruler. Or an existing regent could refuse to step down yet.)

    So, no, kids in the middle ages would not have acted younger than their age-mates in modern times. In fact, the opposite is true. (In one of my stories, I have a child vampire, turned at 8, joke that he's been getting younger through the ages, because when he was turned he was old enough to work, and now many people think he's not old enough to walk to school alone.)
     

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