Becoming a 16-year-old girl

Ok, I know you want to know all about the title, but first an update:

Pages Written to Date: 70

Pages Deleted: A sad total of 30.  It’s what you get when you suck at outlining.

Pies Eaten: 0

Number of books read: 1

Number of Die Hard movies watched this week: 4

Now, on to the blog.

Becoming a 16-year-old girl is not easy.  First of all, I’m not 16.  Or a girl.  Yet my protagonist is.  So how do I get in the mind of a creature I do not understand?  I honestly think it would be easier for me to get inside the head of a troll possessed by the exorcist demon.

So, first I think back to what I was like when I was 16.  I felt things deeply back then.  I loved more purely, hated more passionately, feared rejection, wanted to be noticed and ignored with equal desire.  I had fun just running around, playing soccer.  I longed for the day I could afford a car.  I watched Scooby-Doo and Masterpiece Theater.  I sat at the front in English class, at the back in chemistry.

I met the love of my life, fought my last fight (for spiking someone as I slid into on 2nd base), learned to drive, treated my brother poorly, ignored my mom, missed my dad, gave up drawing, played with my dog, created vast dungeons filled with dragons and read books about Mars and Dark Lords and lands far away.

I dreamed of being a great writer, believed the world was full of wondrous things and great adventures but, deep down, I felt like I never really fit in.  Not like everyone else.  I always felt a like an outsider looking in.

But the more I thought on this, the more I realized that good characters, if they’re 16 years old, 30, 50, are all made from the same stuff.  Hopes and fears.  Experiences, good and bad.  Noble deeds done.  Shameful ones hidden.

I realized a good character struggles.  A good character is tested.  A good character endures.

More importantly, I realized a good character should never be completely defined by their age.

Now, the next step.  Talk to one.

Odds are they have some opinions on this subject.

Stay tuned.

6 thoughts on “Becoming a 16-year-old girl

  1. I see we have a similar dilemma, only my 16 year old girl lives in the present (or perhaps the near future, haven’t quite decided yet). Your task seems infinitely harder, since you are writing a YA fantasy novel, (I think) but maybe easier, too, as you can make your characters behave a bit differently than today’s teenagers in the ‘real world’.

  2. Great pic! Looking forward to see how you will use words to plant that image in your readers’ mind. I know from Shroudmaiden that you of all people can do it.

  3. Great post Joe! When you were a 16-year-old boy, reacting to the 16-year-old girls around you, they were reciprocating. You were part of their landscape. So do you remember how you (and your compatriots) treated them? For me it’s so much harder to remember (or imagine) how I made other people feel at that age than to remember how I felt myself. Now you’ve got me thinking. PS – no categories or tags? Sorry to nag.

  4. The way you describe it, there’s not that much difference between the mind of a 16 year old boy and the mind of a 16 year old girl. The car thing, maybe, if she has sisters instead of brothers, maybe the gaming – maybe. But the whole – on the outside looking in, feeling different and stuff? Yep. Same. Totally. Oh, also, moods could change in a moment – touching the stars as you walk down the science hall, in the dungeon by the time you reach the classroom. Hormones. Damn things.

  5. Great post Joe! And great picture of a 16 year old girl. I tried to put a feminine twist to your face without too much success! Feels like you had fun writing this one.

  6. I am lucky. I write for teens, I never grew up (I have children old than I am), and I hang out with them all day long. I think you’ve nailed the essential elements. If you’re current, the ubiquitous phone must be part of the action. Phones are umbili for social survival: constant connection like The Borg. It’s quite a fascinating thing to observe, especially when the paradox of feeling ‘different’ and ‘outside’ creates the fundamental paradox.

    Welcome to my blog, and thanks for following! I’m glad you did, because I was able to find you! I look forward to popping into your world now and then!

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