Hello, hello! We all do cringe-worthy things as teens. That’s just how life is. However, for us writers, some mistakes are immortalized forever in writing 😁
I thankfully never self-published any of my teen writing. If I had, you would have seen some of these lovely mistakes in my writing:
1. I Tried to Write Like R.L. Stine Fear Street Books
Don’t get me wrong– I loved me some R.L. Stine. Goosebumps in middle school and Fear Street in high school. Problem was… they’re not exactly deep books. They’re good for a quick pop of entertainment, but that’s it.
I was copying authors instead of being inspired by them.
Since then, I’ve learned to allow authors to inspire my writing. A lot of what I read motivates me to become a better writer myself, and to always work to improve my words.
2. Lots of Chatty Dialogue aka Small Talk
While dialogue is great to move a story forward, to reveal something about a character, or to create tension, I used to use dialogue as just that… talkety talk talk. There was no reason to it.
I was adding dialogue that added nothing to the story!
Since then, I’ve learned to ask myself “what is this conversation telling my reader?” If the answer is nothing, I leave it out. Do my characters really need to discuss that tough homework from biology? Not unless it’s relevant.
3. Twists That Would Make M. Night Shyamalan Wince
No offense to Mr. Shyamalan’s fans, but my twists were sooo cringe-worthy 😭 You know the twists: “It was all a dream!” and “He’s not really dead!”
I’d set up expectations and then shatter them in the worst way possible.
Since then, I’ve learned that a good twist is more than just a “psych!” It has to be relevant to the story, emotional, and it has to make sense.
4. Lack of Diversity in Characters
I love the 90s, when I grew up, but I can admit that it wasn’t a great time as far as diversity goes. Shows like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends, and Charmed lacked diversity– or just had one black character.
I followed too much what I saw on TV, and all my characters ended up the same.
None of my characters stood out on how they looked, but also none of them were larger, or shorter, or disabled, or foreign, or gay, or anything other than… average. Which made for a weird clone cast of characters.
Since then, I’ve learned to model my characters after people I interact with in real life, not just what I see on TV. My cast is now old, young, big, small, white, black, eccentric, shy… All kinds!
5. I Spent NO Time Describing Setting
I was in school, so I wrote about characters in school. Other than a “locker-lined hallway,” I never described anything. I didn’t see the point in it, since the story was about the characters.
My stories all took place in a vague “bedroom” or “mall” or “locker-lined hallway.” Ugh. So much negative space!
Since then, I’ve learned to add colorful details to my setting. I use sight, hearing, taste, scent, temperature, and many other ways of describing where my characters are. I’m currently learning how to add details that are relevant to the characters’ inner world, which is challenging and fun!
Got any cringe-worthy things you did as a teen writer? Share in the comments!
We’ll laugh with you, not at you… promise 😁
Take care and write on,
🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜