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  1. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    Young writers on serious subjects

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Miswrite, Jun 7, 2009.

    What is your view on young writers who touch on adult subjects in their writing? Business, abortion, politics - I personally don't think that a young person could write any of these well. I've never seen one do it, at least. Have you? And if so, are there any good books you could recommend?
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you don't think a teenager could write about these subjects succesfully, then you know very few teenagers.
     
  3. Miswrite
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    I do know very few teenagers :)
    The ones I do know prefer to write fantasy - well, truthfully, it's more like "real life with vampires."
     
  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    My story, although it appears like it's set in the medieval era and has nothing to do with the modern world, has turned out as a sort of parody on the attitudes to minority cultures in the world, and there are also many speeches that are strongly anti-imperialist. Another story I plan to work on soon is about human trafficking.

    No wanting to brag here, but I have a writing age of forty-three, and people (some I know, some I don't) from across the world have given me feedback about my writing. One of the key points that arises is how realistically I portray emotions.

    So, yes, it can be done. I suspect most people my age could do it.
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    That doesn't represent what most teenagers are capable of. Maybe more choose to write that stuff because it's more fun. On the other hand, it says nothing about what they understand and can write. The perspectives are different, of course, and there is less experience behind that perspective, but they are capable of it. I doubt I could recommend any books simply because not many teenagers get books published. However, there is a magazine called Teen Ink that you should check out.
     
  6. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    I think it's pretty stupid to think that younger writers can't write anything except fantasy or what ever else, and rather condescending, too.
     
  7. bluebell80
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    I do think abortion could be written by a teenager rather well, because that is something that teenage girls think about while they are adventuring into the world of sexual expression. Birth control, sex, and it's consequences are things teenagers do experience.

    As for business or politics, I do think some teenagers are informed about this stuff, internet businesses are being started by teenagers, like that girl who is already a millionaire before she graduated high school, just by designing myspace page layouts and then starting a website with ads on it.

    Politics are also something teenagers, though not all teenagers, are becoming more informed about, especially since the last elections. There is no reason why a teenager couldn't write about their experiences of growing up during such and such of a political age.

    Whether teenagers write about this stuff, depends on what they want to write. It's not so much a matter of can they, but do they. It seems to me the world of teenagers is so angst filled, that they don't always focus on heavy issues like these, but rather relationships, and how life is so hard.

    Have I read any books written by teenagers. No. Not that I wouldn't, but I just haven't found any, or really looked for any, but I would buy one if the storyline interested me and the writing appeared descent.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very condecending. It's something that I've noticed around here a lot, people underestimating kids and teenagers. Thinking that they have to do something special in how they write a book for teenagers and that sort of thing. One person I remember seemed offended because certain books that had a lot of things that are relevent to high school students were shelved in the YA section. And if they can understand it, they can write about it.
     
  9. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    I agree. I hope you weren't referring to me in this statement, because I never said that young writers can't write anything except fantasy. I've read some books written by teenagers, ages 16 or so, and those were fantasy. You have to admit, most teenagers who get published do write fantasy. But then again, it is a popular genre among all ages.

    I don't think they can write these topics well because they haven't experienced them. I don't think an 80-year-old could write well about abortion either, for example, if she hadn't ever encountered it directly or through a friend or relative. It's just that the average teenager hasn't got much experience to go on.
     
  10. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is very much the exception, but I know someone who manages an unofficial, marginally legal, fanatic organisation that has members, mostly around the same age as him but some older, across the world. Me and him go to the same school.

    Experience doesn't matter. It's understanding.
     
  11. MrJoey
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    I think the difference is teenagers (such as myself) will tend to express very opinionated views on subjects (politics, abortion, business, war..) where older, more matured writers will tend to write with much more consideration of all sides of the arguement, and with more understanding than an older writer will naturally have. Hopefully I made sense there.. a teenager may absolutely 100% disagree with abortion, but he or she may not be able to explain exactly why as well as an older writer will..
     
  12. Leaka
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    Not to brag either, but I write for the adult audience a little more too.
    The ones I right for the younger audience tend to be crappy.
    I have even had adults tell my portrayal of adult subjects is very accurate and well written.
    So I hope they aren't lying to me.

    I think it can be done.
    It depends on the teenager.
    I'm known for being emotionally more mature then most teenagers my ages.
    I think that a mature teenager, someone who can somehow tie less experience and less knowledge into something that makes them more knowledgeable is a capable feet.
    I think someone who is immature may not be able to the way someone with the maturity could.
     
  13. Dr. Doctor
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    Of course I was referring to you, you started the topic. You're right that the average teenager doesn't have much experience but you severely underestimate them in the way of creativity and awareness. Don't be so quick to judge.
     
  14. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If experience was as important as you claim it is, how does an modern American man write about a Geisha who lived in the 1930's? And again, refering to the few novels that have been published is hardly a good sampling of what teenagers are capable of and intreested in doing.
     
  15. young writing star
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    young writing star New Member

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    like all great writers say dont judge a book by it cover in a teen and im in the middle of writing a book that has an aray of adult subjects that a portrayed very confidentley
     
  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    He interviewed a geisha to get information for his character. So even if he didn't experience it, he got a lot of information from someone who did.

    A lot of authors draw from experience. So, I believe that there are some topics teenagers will have a hard time writing about. For example, not many teenagers experience marriage and divorce. Those who haven't experienced it won't do as good a job describing these topics as someone who has experienced it for themselves.
     
  17. Miswrite
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    Rei, you can provide many specific examples, but I'm talking about averages and general areas. Obviously, you can't think I believe every one, with not a single exception, teenagers are suckish writers that will never grasp an adult subject, so why are you forming your arguments to suggest I do? I do believe the majority can't represent a mature topic well - that isn't to say that if I was a publisher, I wouldn't even glance at a story with a mature topic when I saw the author was 15. But generally, I would be skeptical.

    Dr. Doctor, you say I shouldn't be quick to judge, but I'm not. It's not as if I saw one teen's writing and assumed my position. I've read many works by teenagers, even on writing websites, that are far better and more mature in attitudes that books adults have written. But teenagers are often not as mature. And creativity doesn't have much to do with politics or business. To clarify what I meant in my OP (I thought it was clear, but I was wrong):

    An adult, one who has worked in business, and is a good writer, will most likely write a realistic business situation better than a teenager with the same writing skills but no experience. I'm not saying that the writer has to go exactly through what they're writing about - for example, the adult could be writing about some white-collar crime which he himself has never committed. What I mean is, the adult would probably write it better because he saw how people generally act in a business setting, so he would be able to present realistic dialogue and events.

    As for awareness, I never said teenagers weren't aware. I don't think they're just iPod-listening, mall-shopping kids. All of the teenagers I know (admittedly I do know few) ARE aware of abortion and rape and they have complex opinions on Obama's policies - they know more than me at times. I'm saying that it would be harder for them to write it realistically, because they aren't grown up, so they don't write like a grown-up would. Now, if their story was from the POV of a teenager but dealt with these topics, then I have no doubt they could write a compelling story.
     
  18. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The point is, he didn't experience it. Teenagers are perfectly capable of making the same observations and doing the same research.

    If an adult man can interview Geisha and write so successfully about that, why can't teenagers learn from their friends and family what divorce is like? Yes, a lot of authors draw from experience, but many don't.

    And it still sounds like you're judging, Miswrite. I don't even know what point you're trying to make anymore. No one would deny that the person most qualified to write something is almost always someone who has been involved with it for many years. And why the heck would you want to talk about averages? That's generalization, which is exactly what everyone is saying not to do. There are certain aspects of youth etc where we can talk about norms, but this is not one of them.
     
  19. Miswrite
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    No, they are not.
    Physically, yes, they can talk and interview.
    But can they travel to the location their novel is being written in? Can they, as a young person, convince a politician to meet with them to research their political thriller?
    They don't have the same opportunities, and I'm all for equal perceptions and rights, but saying all teenagers are just as able as all adults to write a novel is false.
     
  20. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Either way, he's the exception, not the rule. Besides, some of the details in his book are wrong. The geisha he interviewed actually wrote her own autobiography to correct these mistakes and inaccuracies.
     
  21. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since when does research always require travel? And actually many good politicians will talk to young people. Does every single person who writes a political thriller have personal meetings with them?
     
  22. Miswrite
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    Okay, again with the specific cases.
    No, not EVERYONE will have to travel. But SOME people will.
     
  23. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    And about Memoirs of a Geisha. Sayuri is not a real person, even if she was inspired by real people, so anything that was different from a real person's life is irrelevent, and every writer makes mistakes. Besides, it's a novel. Facts are important, but certain deviations are not, and my word was "believable" not accurate.
     
  24. bluebell80
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    How many writers are there in the world? Comparatively, how many of those writers are actually published each year? Dwindle that number down to how many of those published or publishable writers are teenagers? Of course there aren't that many books written by teenagers that are published each year.

    Miswrite, talking in stereotypes is where we get into trouble, because nothing is every that black and white.

    Can teenagers write about heavy subjects? Yes. Do they? Yes, but not many of them are published.

    The younger we are, the less experience we have writing. Thus, the less likely we are to be published. Do prodigies happen? Yes, of course, but they are the exception not the rule.

    The rule is that most writers will not get published this year. Only a select handful of new writers get published each year, teenagers are no exception.

    Are teenagers just as capable of doing research that adults are able to do? In some form or another, yes they can. Do they have just as much creative imagination as older writers? Yes they do.

    So what is your point? That teenagers are limited to fantasy genre because they couldn't write a realistic novel based on research? That teenagers can't think beyond their microscopic universe of high school to delve into more adult subject matter? I don't get what you are getting at.

    It takes a lot of guts to become a writer, knowing that being published is less likely than winning the lottery. If there are teenagers who want to write subject matter that is considered modern adult material, they can write about it all they want. Will they be published? They have just as good of odds as adults do of being published, if they are talented enough writers.

    Stereotyping and throwing generalities around makes you sound judgmental in the bad way. And it is not conducive to message boards where a good chunk of the people are teenagers.
     
  25. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There are still many inaccuracies in the novel concerning the rules about what a geisha can and can't do. It's similar to The Da Vinci Code. No doubt Dan Brown did a lot of research for it, but there are some things in there that were proven to be wrong.
     
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