Writing for Tweens: What the Authors Have to Say

What goes on in the mind of the authors that write for tweens? How do they approach the tween audience? During the YALSA preconference, Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens, the audience heard six tween authors share their thoughts. Below are some notes regarding their take on being a tween and writing for a younger audience.

So Totally Emily EbersLisa Yee: Being a tween is like being in a “pit of confusion”. Your body betrays you, people are vulnerable, and you can’t let anyone know you are scared. Lisa finds that when questioning where she is in life, she goes back into a “tween” state where she might say, “What am i doing? Where am I going?”. There is a huge difference between how boys and girls communicate, which must be recognized so that the literature can be authentic.

Poison IvyAmy Goldman Koss: “Tween” is a ghastly name for a ghastly time in life. In middle school, everyone REALLY is judging you. Fashion changes all the time (over night!). In writing for teens, Amy Koss remembers that tweens are exactly human just like we are as adults. If they die they die. When writing for teens, don’t categorize them too much. We all can relate to being teens . Don’t “otherize” the group.

MassieLisi Harrison: Tween books have to sound like tweens wrote them. It’s about reshaping language so that the book looks and sounds like teens. Emotionally we are the same as tweens, but we deal with processes differently than them. The Clique series is based on the authors experiences of working at MTV and witnessing firsthand an environment of adults acting like “tweens”, being concerned about what they were, who they hang out with, and taking out anxiety on each other.

Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up ScieszkaJon Sciezka (Guys Read): To find out what a boy wants to read, ask him “What book did you hate”? Don’t look at what boys are reading as a value judgement on what’s good or bad. Talk about what’s different. Boys need humor, comics, magazines, audiobooks and non-fiction. Let them make the choice about what they want to read.

A Chet Gecko Mystery (Chet Gecko)Bruce Hall: Give kids what they want to read. Once you connect them with the “right” book it can be a catalyst into reading more and having life changing experiences. For Bruce, the right book is something he relied on quite a bit to go along with the changes in his life.

SavvyIngrid Law: Chose to write about a small town for the tweens that have this experience. Believes that every tween has something special, like a savvy, that they should be proud of.

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