1. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    The Teenage Experience

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Leaka, Jun 16, 2009.

    I've been reading up a lot about how people don't think that teenagers can write I don't know the right word for this, but a lot that say they don't have enough experience.
    But isn't the teenager experience an experience?
    A voice for other teenagers to read.
    Isn't the teenage experience just as much experience as an elderly experience?
    We tend to write what reflects on our age.
    And I feel a lot of adults tend to draw from the teenage and child world, well I've been through that and I'm not a child any more.
    But those kind of experiences shouldn't be thrown away.
    Isn't there the the concept of the teenage experience?
     
  2. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Well, I don't know who has been telling you teenagers can't write. Anyone can write, I personally have been writing since I was five years old, and writing seriously since I was probably.. 13 or 14. I wrote my first book when I was 13 I think.. but see.. it wasn't good. LOL.. I'm not saying yours wouldn't be so don't think that. Just that while my efforts were good and I definitely had "a voice" for my age (my teachers always said so and I always got A's on any writing assignments), I had a long way to go in the way of technique.

    And I still do.

    I don't think that one is ever done "becoming a writer". It's a work in progress. I have come an extremely long way in the ten years it's been since I've been a teenager, but my writing at this time will *hopefully* pale in comparison to what I am capable of writing in my fifties.

    So I feel that the level of experience doesn't have as much to do with life experiences as just experience learning about writing. I was a very wise sort of kid and always felt that I had a lot of good things to say, sometimes with better perspective than adults that I knew back then. So if you want to be a writer, go for it. You absolutely can. The sooner you start learning and finding yourself and your voice and your STYLE, the longer amount of time you will have to practice and perfect it.

    Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something you want! Believe in you!

    :)
     
  3. amble
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    amble Member

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    Experience means a lot of things. It obviously means experience of practising, but also life experience.

    For me, a problem for most teen writers would be they emulate fully fledged authors instead of writing from their own perspective. Sort of like the diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend. Although that was written by an adult, it was based around memories and experience of that age.

    A suitable analogy would be child comedians - they don't succeed because the majority just tell jokes, and feed tired lines with the risque element removed, which makes things quite bland. In fact, if they told things from their point of view, they would be more successful, and it would actually be funny.

    If you're asking if there is a niche for similar style of novles as Adrian Mole, I definitely think so. Especially as the world has moved on, and there is so much more that the teenager of today has to put up with.
     
  4. SA Mitchell
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    SA Mitchell Member

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    I'm reminded of one of my all time favorite movies, "Kids" written by Harmony Korine when he was in his teens during the AIDS crisis.
     
  5. Obezyanka
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    Obezyanka Member

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    Don't get me wrong but there is already a large thread dealing with this issue.

    Why bother making another one?
     
  6. Ice
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    Ice Member

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    The other thread concerns whether teens have the capacity to write well for adults. This isn't the same thing.
     
  7. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    With regards to writing experience, teens can be just as good as older writers. They may not have been writing as long simply because they're not old enough but they can have just as much 'experience'. I don't want to be vain and say I'm an amazing writer, but I've never been told my writing is bad; everyone says I'm good. I'm 15 as of this post.
    As for life experience, teens are in a special place I think. They're still children to an extent, but they're transitioning into adults. Not only that, they're still teens so they sorta cover all three zones and it's something I wish more teens would write about. If that sort of thing was my preferred area of writing I would do it, but it's not.

    Nate
     
  8. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    People who don't think teenagers can write well are ridiculous and silly, end of story, no exceptions - you're pretty much dead on target here, Leaka.
     
  9. Obezyanka
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    Obezyanka Member

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    I am not saying Teens can not write, everyone can write no matter what age. As for teens writing well Fanfiction.net is flooded with stories written by teenagers.

    There is most likely a small percentage of adult writers that post their work on FF.net.

    Although going through the stories it is very rare to see a well written story that IMHO worthy to be read which has been written by a teen.

    Not wanting to sound harsh here. There is about a few dozen stories that I have came across in my eight years of visitiing the site which I have liked and have been written by teens.

    I have been reading from FF.net since I was seventeen. I am now twenty-five.
     
  10. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    That doesn't sound like a lot, but I doubt the percentage would be higher were it adults. Some people can write and some can't. I'd say for most people it's apparent from the start, even if they get better as they get older.
     
  11. Obezyanka
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    Obezyanka Member

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    Well over the years I have looked at the author's "bio" page many give their age some don't.

    Agree with your post :) Although the amount is both adults and teens that I like, haven't really looked at the ages in years lol. :D
     
  12. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    How can you judge an entire age group's abilities based on a site that is about fan tributes, not actual serious writers? That's the kind of ridiculous assumption that Leaka is talking about.
     
  13. burned_out
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    burned_out Member

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    But see, fan fiction IS serious writing. Its just a story written in their own context with another story in mind.

    Its not like their plagiarizing or anything. Are they copying words? No. They may be using the characters, but thats supposed to happen. All they're doing is creating their own version of what they think should have happened. How is that not serious writing?
     
  14. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Certainly, sometimes it is. But I've seen that site too, and more often than not, it's not the serious, and skilled. Regardless, it's not the right place to judge what teenagers are capable of. The real places is sites like this one or professional youth magazines like Teen Ink.
     
  15. Obezyanka
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    Obezyanka Member

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    To many writers on FF.net site the ones who publish there, they take their writing seriously. Hence the "reviews".

    I admit for practicing my writing skills I have written fanfiction and posted o FF.net over the eight years. I can see that I have come a long way from when I first started writing.

    Indeed as burned out said. It is serious stories but using already existing characters as a means of working on said stories. They are not tributes as Rei said. It is just easier for beginner writers to use their imagination by using characters/settings that already exist and then branch out into making our own characters. The one thing is that they must disclaim they do not own characters/settings.

    Oh it is indeed many teens do take their work seriously, one site I enjoy is Pottersues at livejournal where people critic fanfiction stories based on how Mary-Sue the characters are and the absurd background etc.

    Just recently someone reported a Pottersues blog to a 14 year old author on FF and was very angry that people were making fun of her writing. Then she got so caught up in what people were saying that she started to lash out at the people and it was pretty ugly.
     
  16. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, bad choice of word. It can happen when you're annoyed. Regardless, it's wrong to assume that because fanfic usually sucks that all teens are unskilled, which is exactly what you appear to be doing. Again, read the work on TeenInk, where there is no "training wheels" work or anyone just having fun.
     
  17. Obezyanka
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    Obezyanka Member

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    No I do not pass judgement on all teens. I was once a teen myself. My closest family member is 16 almost 17.

    Not all people can write and be like Sylvia Plath or Oscar Wilde no matter what age.

    I have read your work Rei, you are a skilled writer.
     
  18. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was in high school I overheard my uncle talking to someone else about an experience he had watching his kids at the solo & ensemble competition. His kids played piano and trumpet, so he watched their performances as well as performances from others. My uncle is not the kind of person who goes to those things just to watch his kids though, so he went and listened to the singers performing their pieces. The difference was astonishing. The instrumental people were so good that they sounded almost professional, but the singers just couldn't muster the same kind of quality in their pieces. They were good, but not that good. There were hundreds of people performing that day, and the rift was apparent in nearly all of them. He couldn't help but wonder why there was such a difference between the instrumental and vocal musicians.

    Attributing it to a lack or excess of practice on one or the other group would be an insult to both. The vocal students were just as dedicated to their music as the instrumental. It obviously wasn't an age difference, and attributing it to the quality of the teachers would be just as bad as pinning it on the amount of practice the students did.

    The theory he proposed was that an instrument is much harder to pick up than singing, after all, anyone can sing at least a little; but the voice is much harder to master. The human voice is much more complicated than any instrument ever built, so that alone could account for the gap, but at the same time the students are still coping with the effects of growing up. A man's voice doesn't completely settle into it's permanent range until well into his twenties, and even though a girl's voice doesn't make the same kind of change as a man's it still has to mature.

    Writers are like the vocal students. It is easy to pick up, but hard to master. There's all sorts of complicated techniques to learn and memorize, but underneath that there is still the raw emotion and essential story that is trying to be told. Just like with the singers voice, a writer's ideas and feelings have not settled into a stable place during the teenage or even young adult years. It makes for a time of great creative power and flexibility, but mastery comes later. The hard part is trying to make the creativity last through the time that mastery takes. The people who can do that end up writing masterpieces.

    I'm still young enough that people try to pull the experience card to which I reply "experience doesn't come from age, experience comes from experiences, and I've experienced things you haven't." But at the same time I'm old enough to realize that even though I've experienced events that are unique, every single adult has experienced the process of growing up, and in that regard I have nothing new to bring to the table. The first two decades or so of life are spent essentially playing catch-up to the rest of the world.
     
  19. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Irrelevant to a discussion on what teens can do. I'm 23.
     
  20. Obezyanka
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    Obezyanka Member

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    I agree with you there. When I look at things that I have done in my life that I imaged at 15 is far from different to what I experienced.
     
  21. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the problem with discussions like this is that people forget that nobody denys that the longer you have to work your skill, the better you get, or what's going on in a teenagers body and mind. We're not saying that teens are masters. We're saying "Don't underestimate them."

    The thing is, we forget that there are so many other factors involved, and physical age is treated like the most important one, and it isn't. But we think it is. One of the actors from Slumdog Millionnaire wants to write a book about how she got to the point in her life where she is an international celebrity after being just a poor kid nobody had ever heard of, who really did live in slums of Mumbai. She's nine. We think that's crazy. Then you hear about everything that she's been through, and we realize that it would be a pretty darn interesting book. Of course she probably won't be writing it by herself, but I hope you see the point I'm making.
     
  22. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    As a teenage writer, I'm all too aware of the fact that I'm "inexperienced". I have no problem with it. I'm just limited to writing more about things that I have more experience in - i.e. things about teens.

    I think the misconception that teens can't write stems from the fact that pretty much every classic/famous writer isn't a teen. Certainly there have been actually a number of very young but brilliant writers in the past, but they never get remembered. That and the fact that a lot of books by teens these days get marketed - for no good reason - as "GREATEST WRITER EVER".

    I've seen tons of great writing from kids like me, especially at my school, writing that is at least as good as any adult's. One problem, I suppose, is that some of these kids don't know how to get themselves out, to get themselves published, to make public their abilities - me included. And some of us kids - wisely or unwisely - put off writing as a serious career for a while, because they think they'll have an entire lifetime to catch up - which may, or may not, be true.
     
  23. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Edit: Never mind.
     
  24. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Experience < understanding
     
  25. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Experience + intelligence + knowledge = understanding

    Experience + intelligence = common sense

    Experience + knowledge = street smarts

    Knowledge + intelligence = honor student

    common sense > street smarts > honor student
     

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