Today I’m featuring Anna Staniszewski! She was nice enough to do a great guest post on how to write tween fiction in two simple steps. Anna’s the author of My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and a book that just came out, THE DIRT DIARY. Check it out below!
Anna Staniszewski: How to Write Tween Fiction in Two Simple Steps
What’s the hardest thing about writing tween fiction? Being an adult. Really. Your adult self likes to get in the way when you’re writing for tween readers. Your adult self is judgmental and bossy. It thinks it knows best. Sometimes it won’t shut up.
Here’s my advice when you’re writing tween fiction: Try to quiet the adult part of your brain as much as you can and consider these two questions.
1. How can I be the young protagonist?
2. How can I let the young protagonist be him/herself?
Let’s tackle the first question. How can I be the young protagonist? You can’t, right? Because you’re an adult. Well, I’m not sure that’s true. For one, I think many of us have inner children that we can tap into. (And some of us never quite mature beyond the age of thirteen, anyway.)
I’ve found that tween books that don’t quite work feel like they were written by an adult instead of told by a young character. To avoid this trap, try to tap into those feelings of what it was like to be the age you’re writing about. Do some journaling as your younger self, if that helps.
Also, do your research. Try to find a (non-creepy) way to spend time with tweens and listen to what they talk about, care about, etc. Trust me. This will help. And remember that you’re not writing about all tweens; you’re writing about one particular character who happens to be in— gulp—middle school.
And now on to the second question. How can you let the young protagonist be herself? For one, you need to spend a lot of time working out this specific character, what she wants, what she needs, etc. But also, try to quiet that adult voice that might be tempted to judge your character’s actions or to medicate her or to call her mother.
Because here’s the thing: Your young character might be smart and resourceful, but chances are she has less world experience than you do. She’s going to make mistakes. Maybe big mistakes. Let her. And don’t worry about what kind of example she’s going to set for others. If you try to make an example of her, she’ll feel fake. Let her mess up and learn and BE HUMAN. Then she’ll feel real.
So that’s it. How to write tween fiction in two simple steps. Easy, right? Not exactly. But when it all comes together, it really is worth it. Trust me. I’m an adult.
Thanks so much to Anna Staniszewski for doing this guest post and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of THE DIRT DIARY!