Thursday, October 7, 2010

Teenage Dream: How To Hone Your YA Voice Part Trois

At last, we've come to the thrilling conclusion of my Teenage Dream series! Woot!!

Okay. Let's recap what we've learned so far, folks.

Tip #1: find lyrics with meaningful teen stories.

Tip #2: read interviews about teens with meaningful lives.

And now, I give you tip #3:

Watch teen movies.

Confession: I have always loved teen flicks. A-l-w-a-y-s. Even when I was too young to understand what the heck they were talking about and had to ask my mom what second base was (best. moment. ever.). Sure, not all teen movies depict reality in a genuine way, but guess what? There are hidden gems out there, folks. If you watch closely, you might just learn something.

How does watching teen movies help you as a YA author? Simple. Pay attention to the problems the characters face. Maybe a girl who pretends to lose her virginity sounds irresponsible to you as an adult, but there's a reason why teens paid to go see Easy A (awesome film, by the way). I like to think that reason has something to do with that ever-alluring what if? factor. What if I went to school one day and everyone thought I was a slut? What if people spread rumors about me to my crush, who thinks I have a halo floating above my head? What if my *gasp* parents get wind of what I supposedly did? 

Problems and actions, my friends--that's what teen movies teach us. What has the ultimate power to mess up a teenager's life, and how he/she will deal with it. That is what YA readers (and moviegoers) look forward to. They want to see how someone else would cope with something that could easily happen to them. 

A few movies you should check out: 

Easy A (duh...)
American Pie
Whip It (you should also check out the book)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (same here)
Adventureland (not exactly teens, but the spirit is there)
Everything directed by John Hughes

So there you have it. Those are my tips to creating a believable YA novel--the teenage dream. That dream is complicated, but not impossible to achieve. I hope my mini-series helped you in some little way to see the light at the end of the OMG tunnel :)

Now tell me: what are your favorite teen flicks? 


  1. I loved Juno. The writing was great and it dealt with real situations. =)

  2. I think I'm on the right track because I've seen all of those movies except Whip It and Easy A (lame, right?). It's also fun to just observe teens in public, like at the mall or school if you're so lucky. You'd be amazed at all the new lingo and will probably start feeling old. Very old. :(

  3. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Easy A. I haven't laughed so hard during an opening scene ever! (the true events of her weekend... awesome stuff)

  4. I have to say everything directed by John Hughes. I mean the Breakfast Club! Hello?!?!? Nuff said! :-)

    Take care

  5. LOL. I am old enough to remember John Hughes.

  6. Excellent movie choices! I love them all. As for my favorite teen movies (aside from the ones you mentioned) Mean Girls and John Tucker Must Die.

  7. I loved all of these movies.

    Easy A blew me away with how awesome it was.

  8. I haven't seen Whip It...I adore teen movies. :) Thank goodness I have a teen!

  9. Nice. You're so right. Immersing oneself in teen culture is definitely the right way to research. It's exhausting though, right? To give yourself over to a character so fully. At least that's how I felt when I used to do acting.


  10. Oh, this is my favorite advise yet. I rushed out to buy the lastest Katie Perry CD after your first bit advice. (love it btw).

    I was planning to see Streetdance 3D this week, but they've already removed it from my local theatre after a week (I guess that says it all!). I'm definitely going to see EASY A. It was on my list anyway. :D

  11. I loved 17 Again, but I'm not sure that qualifies. This is a great bit of advice, though, and I'm adding to my netflix queue right now! :)