I now have three books in my Shapechanger Tales series self-published as ebooks and print-on-demand books. They are labeled adult SF. So I decided to that my fourth would be a young adult novel.
This is partly in the hope that those YA readers will then seek out the adult titles. But it also is a challenge. Iíve long wanted to write for teens. Now Iím sure enough of my skills Iím going to do that.
But to get help writing a teen girl character, since Iím a male much older, I asked for help from several nieces and sort-of nieces, asking them to also pass on my request to those they thought might be willing to offer insights.
The replies have been coming back for the last several days and some patterns are beginning to emerge. I wonít feel certain of my understandings for a while, but here they are so far.
______________________________One young woman apologized for offering up stereotypes, but said she found them often to be true. Many of her friends and acquaintances were very self-centered, unsure of themselves but covered it up with bravado, strongly resisted adult perspectives, and felt immune from harm. The future felt very far away and only until their last year of high school did they start to think beyond high school, often with feelings of panic. They were interested in the opposite sex but afraid of them too.
My own memories of my teen years, incidentally, was that these stereotypes are just as true for boys. We especially are likely to put up a brave front.
______________________________Another young woman (in her mid-twenties now) said that all through high school she thought of herself as a ďdude with boobsĒ - a phrase I had used in my broadcasted email as a downfall of the female characters many male authors create. This from someone whom I saw grow up from the age of three, and who always seemed very conventionally feminine in appearance and activities.
Except - she was also always spirited, self-assertive, and had lots of initiative. She started parties and outings, enlisted others to help with them, stood up to bullies, and talked back to adults. In short, she ACTED the ways males are stereotypically supposed to.
It helps, I suppose, that she is short and attractive and loves fashion. A six-foot fullback male doing exactly the same things would trigger a resistance reflex, whereas she was often met with compliance. (Though never more than once treated as a joke. Thatís when her (verbal) steel claws came out.)
It helps, I think, that she and other ďdude with boobsĒ females I know are very active physically. Activities I know about are jogging (almost all of them), soccer, basketball, and dancing (salsa, ballet, and Argentine tango). I suppose when you feel physically fit you feel more emotionally sure of yourself.
______________________________Then there are the activities conventionally associated with females, such as shopping. Comedians make jokes about this, portraying men as hating shopping. My experience is that we LOVE shopping - but of things like cars, guns, electronic devices, and so on. I think shopping is a human activity, but the content varies according to gender and culture and individual preferences.
There also may be a general sexual difference. Female shopping tends to emphasize appearance, males functionality. How much is inborn and how much learned the psychologists of the future may be able to determine, but for now it's futile to argue the origin of these preferences.
______________________________I see I've strayed away from the TEEN GIRL topic I'm most concerned about. So I'll end by saying this.
Those are the general impressions Iíve gotten so far. I also got lots of specifics and examples. Some of them I'll eventually end up using in this or some other story.