Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Why Writing for Teenagers and Adults is the Same
One piece of writing advice I hear quite often is to keep ones readers or target audience in mind. It makes sense, right? I mean, Judy Blume, Steven King and Fyodr Dostoevsky probably all have very different readerships.
Lies. At least partly. I've read and loved all three of those authors, and know lots of other people who have too. I mean, you can make generalities, but since when have generalities been good for writing?
My point is this. The only real audience you can write "to" is you. And by you I mean everybody. Let me explain. (No, there is too much. Let me sum up.) When you are honest and very specific, and write things that you enjoy and that mean something important to you, then your readers are able to grasp that important meaning through those specific details. By being specific you become universal. People can relate to grass stains and cigarette smoke and the first day of school. Those things may mean something different to different people, but they have much more meaning than if you just said happy or anxious or sad.
That is why writing for adults and teenagers is the same. The point isn't to pander or adjust to any preconceived "level." The point is to tell the most interesting story you know in the most meaningful way you know how, whether the main character is 7, 17, or 70. You can't control what any given reader is going to take away from your work, because they will all take away something different anyway. Our job is to do our best to make sure they can take away something. No matter what age they are.
When you really get down to it, we're all just human.