So you want to be the next Christopher Paolini/Ned Vizzini/(insert famous teenage writer here)? Okay, bad question. Everyone does.
Do you want some advice from a non-famous but still teenage writer? That I can provide.
1. Use the resources you have that others don’t.
- Do you have an English teacher or professor who could proofread or otherwise help? Even though you might be terrified to interact with your teachers, it would be scarier to put forth writing that hasn’t been proofread. Believe me.
- Do you have school library with research materials? Friends or school acquaintances who could critique your work? Use these resources while you can.
2. Read, both as part of school and for fun, and focus not only on the story, but how the author conveys it.
- What ratio of dialogue to description is there? How do they characterize? What themes show up and how are they woven into the story? If you like a novel, why? If you don’t, why not? Then, use this information to make your writing better.
- This is an earth-shattering concept, I know. Even if its just a journal entry every day, though, the more you write the easier it will get. Use the simple things you learn in English class to improve your writing as well (like grammar and syntax variation).
4. Use the internet.
- Look up tutorials, send a message to your favorite writer, start a blog, or expand your social media following. It can all provide you with important information and connections to begin your writing career. (Yay, networking.)
5. Join a critique group, either online or in person.
- As long as you make sure it is through a reputable source, critique groups can be a great way to get advice on your writing and connect with other writers. (Fair warning, you should probably not join a critique group if you aren’t open to critique. If you didn’t already gather that from the name).
6. Attend writing conferences, workshops, or writing classes.
- These help with networking as well as helping with the actual writing process. Look for them at local colleges, literary organizations, or the internet. *sees you frantically searching Google for every possible class you can find* Hold on. Think about going to a few great classes that you can put a lot of energy into rather than as many as you can. And leave time for other things, like sleep. And actually writing.
7. When querying agents and publishers, unless it is specifically for a teen publication, don’t mention your age.
- First of all, agents are looking for great writing, not that you are a great writer for your age group. Secondly, there are legal issues with being under 18 so your age could be viewed as a downside rather than a perk. Finally, really think about why you would want to put your age? To compensate for your writing? If so, do you think they would be willing to publish your writing if you even feel the need to make up for it? (Take a deep breath after that intense reality check, if you need one).
8. Use your viewpoint to an advantage.
- You know what its like to be a teenager since you are living as one right now. Keep this in mind as you write your characters. Enough said.
9. Keep writing!
- It can be tough to keep going through writer’s blocks, getting rejection letters, or harsh critiques, but its part of the process everyone goes through. (You’ve probably heard this hundreds of times. I can guarantee you will hear it hundreds more.)
10. Don’t write to be published/be famous/etc.
- The truth is, it’s not likely to happen and definitely not right away. Finding internal motivation will make it easier to keep going.
- Do it because you want to read your finished novel. Do it because you love it. Do it because writing has become something like an addiction except without the questionable choices (for the most part).
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