What’s wrong with 14-year-olds?
Actually, nothing . . . really. And I’ve taught just enough of them to know — they’ll grow up, some day, and be REAL people (a word of encouragement for parents!).
But in writing ? ? ?
I’ve been told — reminded, actually, a number of times — NOT to write about a 14-year-old. And don’t write FOR 14-year-olds either. Apparently, at least in more than one publishing house, you’re likely to get turned down.
So, here’s my take on it: 14-year-olds are struggling. I’d have been the one struggling to stay “a kid.” I’m REALLY not sure I’d even, thoroughly, given up on Santa Clause by age 14. Then there were the other 14-year-olds I knew: (some of the girls already wore bras . . . and NEEDED them! Some had already started their . . . well, you know . . . )
I was just hoping Santa wouldn’t forget my house, finally, this year. I still BELIEVED. Or wanted to so badly I could taste it. (Christmas was NEVER the same, after I finally crossed that threshold.)
But, back to writing, instead of reminiscing about my Childhood Lost.
Here’s what I’ve finally concluded: 14-year-olds already know what 14-year-olds do. What they say. What they think.
MOST of them (excluding me when I was that age, I suppose) want to know what comes NEXT. What do 15-year-olds get to do? To wear? Where can they go? WITHOUT Mom or Dad?
The lesson here is don’t write your MC as a 14-year-old protagonist. Make him12 or 13. Or write her as 15 or 16.
I’m told a 14-year-old protagonist is flat-out-dead on the first reader’s desk s/he lands on.
Merry Christmas ! ! ! And don’t forget that 14-year-old who lives at your house: (Does she still need Santa? Let me know, and I’m there ! ! !)
Today I got some harsh critique on some my photographs.
And when I say harsh, I mean I was crying for most of the rest of the day.
Now, I’m no stranger to critique. I’ve developed a pretty thick skin over the years. So I started thinking about why this one affected me so strongly.
I think the biggest problem was that there were no rules on this particular forum about how to give critiques. In most professional settings (a.k.a. Carol’s classroom) everyone is required to note both the good and the bad about a particular work. On this forum, no one said anything positive until I was already miserable and broken. Also, most of the mean comments were downright rude and intended to belittle and make fun of me.
The point is, there are good things about every work. Even if all you can honestly say is, “Well, it looks like you had fun making it!” It’s still worth saying that.
Critique should never be used as a way to scare someone away or make them give up. It should be used to encourage growth and learning. You should walk away from a critique feeling like there is plenty of work to do, but you can do it!! If you don’t feel that way, find a new critique group that better fits your needs.
We’re taking next week off, so I encourage you to do three writerly things this week:
1. Imagine the holidays for your character. What are they like?
2. Sketch–even if you don’t draw–your character. Leave plenty of white space. Hang that picture someplace you will see every day. As you pass this picture add adjectives, incident ideas, plot points that come to you. You don’t have to use them all. Allow yourself to be informed by this drawing.
3. Read one book for pleasure