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  1. Philsy

    Philsy Member

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    Writing for teenage boys

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by Philsy, Nov 9, 2016.

    I was chatting to an author the other day and he said there's a demand for novels that will appeal to teenage boys.

    Now, I was a teenager once and I now have a 15-year-old son, so I've a fair idea about what teenage boys are into.

    The question is, would a novel that realistically portrayed a teenager's life and thoughts be considered suitable to be sold to teenage boys, or would have to be sanitised to keep parents happy?

    Thanks

    Phil
     
  2. I.A. By the Barn

    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    I don't think teenage books are really sanitised. Often parents don't even care what teenagers are reading in my experience (except for manga), they just let them get on with it. People tend to approve of reading a lot, with lots of parents now scared of the online world. It still has to be suitable but don't think that means smiles and milk before bed. Teenagers see and know a little more than adults give them credit for.
    I would say though, just 'life' might not appeal as just like any audience you've got to put juicy bits in a story. With teenagers of any gender really they tend to look for escape rather than just simple relatability as you would see in a 'teen's life' novel. It could be a club, a mystery, fantasy, doesn't matter really just as long as it's more.
     
  3. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I think the question is - would they be interested in it? I don't know exactly what ages we're talking about, but I used to work with kids who were 12-15 and they were pretty hard to please. Sports books were okay, but mostly they just looked through fantasy and horror books. And those were the really few people to pick up a book without the teacher having to force them.

    I think, at least in the early years, that teenage boys prefer adventure books of different kinds. As for above 15? Not sure. I can vaguely remember "boy books" from when I was that age and I guess there were some addressing every day life. It was comedies about getting laid or the lack of it because you (the narrator and the reader) are 15 year old losers and might get a kiss at the end of the day if you're being lucky.

    I think it's one of the toughest target-groups to write for.
     
    I.A. By the Barn likes this.
  4. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    As a former teenage boy, nothing I read had (willingly) any correlation to my personal life, nor did I have any desire to read anything like it. Not to mention your own and my own ideas of what teenagers like and do is not applicable to the whole.
     
  5. Philsy

    Philsy Member

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    Umm, interesting replies, thanks.

    It's funny, I used to read all the time when I was 15 in the late 1970s - and there were no teen novels back then. I guess boys today have too many other distractions.

    Phil
     
  6. SardonicWriter

    SardonicWriter Member

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    WAIT! WAIT! WAIT!

    I 'm nineteen right now. Practically a teenager. The life of your normal, everyday boy in modern suburbia or city life doesn't always have to be mundane.
    Portraying the life of a common teenager realistically doesn't mean that the story can't resonate with young individuals. All it takes is a good premise.
    Characters with distinct attributes. Honor. Conviction. Love. Care. Empathy. Apathy. Hate. Guilt. Pride.

    Not every story has to be a "Once upon a time" or "In a land far, far, away". Forget Fantasy and the impossible. Write what's true about us.
    These types of stories have been done before. All characters come from within our being. From ourselves. Human Beings.
    And in doing that, having no censorship in what these characters think and do.

     
  7. NoGoodNobu

    NoGoodNobu Contributor Contributor

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    I was always the avid reader out of my siblings, and my brother rarely read.

    However, there were some books he actually got me to read because he liked them.

    The first one was The Bartimaeous Trilogy (now Tetralogy I suppose, counting the added Prequel). It's a British alternative-history fantasy where governments are run by magicians, and magicians summon & exploit the power of djinn because they themselves are useless. The level of snark & sarcasm in the narrative was beautiful. I also enjoyed the switching perspective from first person from the titular djinni Bartimaeous to close third Nathaniel/John (and in later book close third Kitty). The narrative was vibrant, witty, and intriguing. Both he & our younger male cousin really enjoyed it, and to this day Johnathan Stroud is one of my favourite authors.

    The other he liked was Eragon, although I think he thought it was much too wordy. If he could've received the story in a barebones or simplistic narrative, I think he'd given the books second & third reads. As it is, he read it, "liked" it, and donated it to my overburdened shelves of my six book cases crowding my room (I need several more). What drew him to this I think was an adventure story, but also more fighting.

    He almost liked Hunger Games, and gave me the book before I had ever heard of it and told me I might enjoy it. I know what appealed to him were the battles & the fighting or the outsmarting. The romance (faux or authentic) probably was a turn off as was too much personal baggage of the main character. But walls of fire, traps & general violence were what was up his alley

    His current (belated) enjoyment is Harry Potter. We were raised in a staunch conservative Protestant Christian home, and Harry Potter of course was strictly forbidden by our father (for romanticizing witchcraft & the occult—and pointing out the magic of Tolkien, Lewis, etc. only upset my father and almost led to the ban of "wholesome" Christian fantasies too). We snuck the films whenever we could via ABC endless holiday marathons, but it wasn't till my brother broke his collarbone extreme skiing on a black diamond route that he got into the books (I bought him the first few on the down low to occupy him at the cabin). He now has on loan my entire collection for constant rereading, and I probably am never getting them back because he has moved to a nice large flat with his young wife in London, the lucky, sneaky thief. It's basically the sort of simple, straightforward language that engages him easily but has the fantasy & adventure throughout.

    These were the sorts of stories he read & to some degree or another enjoyed reading.

    I don't think the stories strictly needed to be fantasy—but power & prowess were big draws (and magic is undeniably a mighty force to be reckoned with). He liked wit, but not complex sentences or long flowery prose. He wanted there to be battles or where interesting things to be happening, to be entertained by action & intrigue.

    And while this may just be specific to my younger brother, I'm sure there is overlap for this targeted demographic.

    I hope I was helpful somewhat.
     

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