Friday, November 14, 2008

Have You Read THIS? - read this b4 u publish :-)

I'm not an author. I don't write novels or picture books. I do write a lot of poetry and blog posts, so I guess that makes me a writer. I read blogs by publishers, editors, authors, illustrators and other book lovers. Some day, perhaps when I retire, I will be a published author. Until then, I'll keep reading, learning, and practicing the craft of writing.

For all you would-be and published authors out there thinking about writing YA and thinking about male readers, you MUST read this piece. Written by an eighth grade boy, the author talks about the problems with books aimed at teenage boys. It is very well-written, entertaining, and insightful. Here is an excerpt.
The first problem with many books for teens is archaic language. Seriously. It is the kiss of death for teenage boy literature. Any book infested by it is destined to become an eternal object of derision around the cafeteria lunch table. It is a problem that applies not only to the “classics” (yes, I will use quotations whenever I use that word. Live with it.), but also modern teenage literature. “Methinks”? “Doth”? Really? So we are constantly ridiculed for “lol,” while these offenses go unnoticed? To all writers of books aimed at teenage boys, I beg you: please use only modern language, no matter what time period or universe your book takes place in.
Go now and read the article entitled read this b4 u publish :-).

P.S. - Will someone please send this kid to Guys Lit Wire?

P.P.S. - Okay, this is why Guys Lit Wire is totally cool. The brains behind the site already posted about this article. Head over there and read What kind of books do teen boys really want?


  1. Well, if he won't read anything with archaic language, Octavian Nothing is out for him, even though I think M.T. Anderson is exactly the kind of smart, thoughtful, engaged writer this kid is looking for. I agree with his criticism of the *Twilight* series (sort of) but isn't this just another version of the typical "there's nothing good to read out there" rant that only demonstrates the writer's unfamiliarity with what's really out there? I hate when celebrities use that rant to justify their writing of picture books--why is it any different when it's a YA kid writing it?

  2. I suppose that issue of "no good books" did come through for me. I found myself wondering where the teachers and librarians were who COULD point him in the direction of books he would enjoy.

    I don't agree with the language comment, because I think it's necessary in good historical fiction. (And frankly, this is exactly the kind of kid who should be reading M.T. Anderson.)

    I think I was most moved by his notion of not underestimating your audience. John Green has said this often. Don't talk/write down to kids.

    Perhaps this rant really is all about putting the right books in kids hands.

  3. I love this kid's voice. Maybe he'll grow up to write some books, eh?