1. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

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    What do you guys think of teenage authors?

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by Kerilum, Nov 5, 2016.

    Do you think it's possible for a teenager to write decent, attractive novels that won't immediately spring out as amateur?

    What about younger teenagers? Like 14-16?
     
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  2. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    Eragon was written by a 15 year old. I personally haven't read the work, and I've heard good as well as bad things about it, but it shows that it is definitely possible. On the other hand, it is unlikely the average teenager can present a world attractive to an adult audience. There is simply so much they haven't seen yet.
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Possible? Yes.

    Likely? No.

    It takes a long time to learn to write and teenagers haven't been on the planet very long. It takes a long time to understand the world well enough to have something worth writing about, and, again, teenagers haven't had that much time.
     
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  4. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

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    I haven't heard a single good thing about Eragon, which is what makes me think. He was so young, I suppose he had so much to see, as you said.
     
  5. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein when she was all of 18-19.

    As far as a 14-16 year old writing competent fiction... doubt that happens very often.
     
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  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And natural phases of life still to be gone through. I remember how incredibly preoccupied I was in my late teens and early twenties with being seen as an adult. A natural thing for people of that age. I remember thinking I knew everything there was to know in my late twenties only to spend a good bit of my thirties realizing I knew next to nothing. These are natural things we all go through, whether we admit them out loud or not.
     
  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But to echo @BayView's sentiment, it takes time to learn to write and to acquire a battery of experiences upon which to draw. Starting now means you start early on that trip, assuming we're talking about you. Don't be disappointed if the first try is rubbish. It's a learning experience. A lot of newbie writers seem to make this mistake that they will write this novel and that it will define them as a writer. Never mind that they've never written anything else before. There's practice, there's learning, there's experience, and all of it is worth doing. In a side-table drawer I've got a hardcopy of a novel I wrote in my early 20's called Ascend Dystopia. The title alone should tell you how garbage it is. :bigoops: It's spectacularly angsty and derivative and terrible... and it was a step along the journey, and as shitty as it is, it was worth writing because of that.
     
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  8. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @BayView and @Wreybies hit the nail on the head. Both the craft of writing and the well of experiences from which writing springs take a long time to develop. But your attention to the craft, now, and your focus on developing your craft, now, will serve you well as you grow. Good luck.
     
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  9. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    As a person who started writing at fourteen, they're terrible. I had the horrible habit of making my MC a Mary Sue, the chapters were short because I didn't put in enough description, and my dialogue was stunted.
     
  10. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    I'd like to add something to this:

    Just because you're a teen doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T write. In fact, there are emotions you have right this moment that you may never experience again. Capture them while you have the chance.

    The fact is, as you grow older, as you see more of the world, you realize your teenage years weren't everything. You lose the intense emotions you possessed during that time. As an adult, your ability to recall and recapture those emotions dwindles. Teenage years are a chaotic and transitory period. It's a once in a lifetime experience. You have feelings during that time that, sure, adults criticize and call angsty--and to be fair, you might feel the same way in 20 years--but they're still VALID. They're still something that everyone has gone through--or will go through.

    If you think, in the future, you will write about teens going through that period of their lives, there is NO better time to do it than when you yourself are going through that period. Maybe all the data won't be there, maybe you'll come back in 10, 20 years and have to do some major editing. But simply being able to capture the emotions, the feelings, the ideals--no matter how they seem later in life--is something you might not be able to do later. So do it now, while you can. Write about whats important to you right now. Write about how you feel, about how you see the world. Write what you know, what you think you know, what you can't stand and what might not be so bad. Because if you do, you'll be in a better position to re-create it when you need to. You'll be able to breath life into your characters in a truly authentic way.

    Your future self, more world-weary and tired and less inclined to passion, may thank you for it.
     
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  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    You can find prodigies from time to time in many fields, and writing shouldn't be any different. It's rare, Eragon is probably the worst book I've ever tried to read - at least from a traditional publisher. It makes Twilight look like War and Peace.
     
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  12. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    There's nothing inherently terrible about teenage writers.

    Eragon is derivative crap, true, but the same is not true of all works by teenagers. As I recall, wasn't the writer of Eragon basically homeschooled and raised to be a writer and literally nothing else, before being (originally) published by his parents' company?

    I think the main issues are those of practice and experience - first, it takes a lot of writing practice before you're even close to good enough to publish. This is just incredibly difficult to do in such a short space of time. Second, if you're still in school, you have pretty much no experience of any other way of living that isn't just school life. You don't really know what it's like to have a job, and an income, and pay bills, and pay rent and deal with landlords' bullshit, and serve on a jury. Most of your friends and family and people you know live in the same place, with similar life experiences to your own.

    You can guess, you can look it up, but you can't claim to have lived it - which leaves you with the problem that all of your characters are created with a single, narrow set of experiences in mind, and your storytelling operates from a set of assumptions which aren't true as a result. This is why you repeatedly end up with characters who are very simplistic, and based on how stereotypical school life works: "The popular girl", "the nerd", "the bully" archetypes, often with little to no recognition that a workplace really doesn't work the same way that a school does, or that those people are motivated by a completely different set of life experiences.

    You can, of course, always find these problems in older writers' works too - particularly ones who haven't bothered to leave their hometown, or make friends from different places with different backgrounds, etc. but I find they are much more prevalent in younger writers' work.
     
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  13. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    It is in the eye of the beholder IMO. I remember back in junior high school the advanced English class published a magazine called the Quill and I thought some of the writers did a great job. However I was no true judge and I think you are asking about recognition in adult society, so probably not just as others have said. This however seems to point out how different writing is from so many other learned skills. Last night I listened to a fourteen year old kid play a song on his guitar on a TV show and it was impressive. He started playing when he was two!?!! Writing really is a whole different talent and more importantly how it is accepted is very complex to define. The good thing is starting early will no doubt lead to better writing skills as time passes so if you judge by: laying the foundation for future success, yeah it could be good. IMO anyway.
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I once bought a story for an anthology from a 17 year old girl. It was quite good.
     
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  15. Parker101

    Parker101 Member

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    I started writing when I was around 13/14, and I have no hesitation in saying I was pretty crap. Now, at 18 I'm slightly less crap, though I'm no Stephen King either. What I've been told, and found for myself is that writing is a skill that improves through practice, dedication and observation of others who've mastered it already, not simply through age. Although I agree with a lot of what's said above that life experience really helps, which as a teenage author is in pretty short supply, most often
     
  16. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I loved the outsiders when I was a teen and it was written by S.E. Hinton when she was a teen. But it was about something she at least knew about or at least admired - teenage boys.
     
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  17. Wild Knight

    Wild Knight Senior Member

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    I started off writing when I was twelve years old, but even before that, I made up story scenarios to entertain myself and my younger siblings, and I haven't stopped since.

    The few that I was able to save, they're... nothing to be proud of. I can barely read through my first (almost) finished manuscript from high school without wanting to gouge out my own eyes.

    Needless to say, in hindsight, I'm glad that I didn't become a teenage author. I didn't know crap in even my early twenties.
     
  18. Neural

    Neural Member

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    Honest.. my first response was "GET OFF MY LAWN!!"

    Humor aside, I do not see anything blocking teenagers from writing. I started when I was 13 with short stories (thank you to the anonymous person out there that told me about creating character sheets!).

    There are lots of "kids" that are ridiculously talented as well, and not just with music and art.
     
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  19. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    Idk. o_O
     
  20. VynniL

    VynniL Contributor Contributor

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    I used to be rather ageist, but I've been pleasantly surprised by the maturity and talent of some younger writers. I've bumped into writers in their early twenties who have been immensely creative and more adaptable than much older writers. I actually think it is the adaptability and the willingness to try new things.

    It's an experience to work with the creative mind of the young. They spark with inspiration in the most facinating way. To avoid prejudice, one writing partner did not tell me he was 20! From his words and ideas that were written so well, I'd assumed he was so much older. I just about died in horror when he admitted his age after I asked, but I was certainly taught a lesson not to judge by age. So while I'm not talking about teens, I have to assume they are working hard at the art in their late teens at the very least. I'm so envious of this group of writers.
     
  21. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I'm 18. My experience with "publishing" begins and ends with my senior year of high-school last year, where I was a journalist for the school newspaper.

    I go through phases of loving and hating my writing. On one hand I have to remind myself to relax and have some fun. On the other, I strive to be the best I can be, to push my limits, to get better. Judging from how I've scored in the competitions on a different writing forum, I've still got a ways to go (there's always room for improvement). I can be my own worst enemy at times.

    But as others have said, I firmly believe that "write what you know" is sage advice. Sometimes this means research. Other times it means actually living and experiencing life. Hindsight is a valuable tool that allows you to dig deeper and have a greater understanding of things than you did in the moment, which of course allows you to craft a fuller story. And time allows one to develop their voice, their own roar.

    None of this stops me from trying though. Still try to write as if I were an adult, for an adult audience. Because that's what I want to do, so I'm gonna' do it. If that means breaking a stereotype about young authors, then so be it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2016
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  22. Goldenclover179

    Goldenclover179 Banned

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    I'm 13 myself, so don't take this too seriously; I'm probably biased towards my own goals.
    Anyway, just because you're a teen (assuming you are) doesn't mean you can't write a great novel. Sure, some teens will end up writing what they know - the nerd, the jock, etc. But what about the people you see around you in the streets? Your parents? Have you ever been on vacation?
    You can write stories about the people around you, as long as you look hard enough, you can create life experiences to write about from their lives. Ask them what they've done in life, then look at them and think about how that may or may have shaped who they are.
    Maybe your grandma lives out in the country all by herself. But why does she live by herself? What happened to her husband? Did she spend her youth cautiously, maybe in university, or did she have what some refer to as a "misspent youth?"
    Just because it isn't your story doesn't mean that you can't tell it.
    So if you want to write a novel - absolutely. Just go for it.
     
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  23. amerrigan

    amerrigan Active Member

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    Yes, definitely. And especially now that everyone has cameras on them always, you can easily interview them documentary style and use that footage to help you remember what they said so you can write it down.

    However... When I was 13, I had an experience in which one of my aunts was telling me about her husband cheating on her, without actually telling me. You know, 'words that have two meanings' etc. It wasn't until my 20's that I was like 'ooooohhhhhhhhh!!! That's what she was talking about!?!?!'

    So, in the video, when gran starts telling you about pops 'holiday to France' - you still might not understand the full depth of what you are being told... and writing it into a novel may accidentally cause gran and pop to get a divorce...
     
  24. ShannonH

    ShannonH Member Supporter

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    Reminds me of the time one of my Grandfather's went to Timbuktu.

    Nine year old me accepted this and did not question why he had taken a long trip to Mali.
     
  25. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    Actually, something I find VERY useful as a research tool for characters is Youtube. There are so many vloggers from different countries, every age, lifestyle, disability, etc. that it just makes things that much more personal. When creating a blind character, I absolutely wanted to stay away from having them helpless and reliant on other people, etc. - which to a point is how I imagine I'd be if I lost my sight tomorrow - but a quick glance on youtube reveals a blind vlogger who actively answers questions about how blind people do things, who jokes about his blindness and things his sighted friends do without realising. All of that is proper verisimilitude, and helps you get more of a glimpse into what life is like.

    Yeah, it sometimes feels a bit weird watching half a dozen 15 year old girls talk about their day at school to flesh out a similar character, but (I hope, at least) the end result rings much more true as a result. It's also a fantastic resource for speech patterns, tics and idiosyncrasies.
     
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