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Coming of age: Writing for teens & tweens

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Reel Mama: Coming of age: Writing for teens & tweens

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Coming of age: Writing for teens & tweens

I’m thrilled to welcome author and screenwriter Hilary Weisman Graham with a guest post she created especially for Reel Mama readers.  I’ve had the joy of knowing Hilary since we were independent filmmakers tackling our first projects in Boston.  Since then it’s been delightful to see Hilary blossom into the accomplished writer and artist she is today.  

Hilary has undertaken a new adventure in publishing her first novel for young adults, Reunited, which recently debuted from Simon and Schuster. Enjoy Hilary’s inspiring post, and I highly recommend checking out her new book as well!

Coming of Age: Writing for Teens & Tweens

by Hilary Weisman Graham

I admit it.  I subscribe to both Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazine, despite the fact that I haven’t been a teenager for over twenty years.  But as a young adult novelist and screenwriter who often writes teen movies, staying in the pop culture loop is just part of the job.

However, the bigger, more important part of my work has nothing to do with keeping up to date on the latest boy bands and text lingo, nor does it rely on mining the zany anecdotes from my own teenage life. When writing for teens, my goals are as simple (or as complicated) as those of any other screenwriter or novelist—creating interesting stories with emotions that ring true and characters with rich inner lives. 

Teenagers are very savvy people.  And just because they haven’t clocked as many life experiences as the average 40-something, the biggest mistake a writer can make is to think in terms of Us and Them.  Sure, they may look better than we do in skinny jeans, but the issues most teenagers are dealing with—the joys and pains of self-discovery, questioning life’s “rules,” finding themselves wrapped up in an all-consuming love or a heart-wrenching loss—are not exclusively of the teen domain.

In fact, I maintain that all of us are always coming of age, at least if we’re living consciously and open to change.  So the real trick to writing for teenagers relies on the same set of skills we use when we talk to kids in real life.  Namely, you’ll never win by pandering to their sensibilities or talking down to them.  But if your writing is honest and comes from the heart, you stand a decent chance of connecting with them in a meaningful way, as well as the slight possibility that they may actually think you’re cool.

Hilary Weisman Graham is an award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, and novelist.  She lives in rural New Hampshire with her husband and son, roughly thirty minutes away from the nearest grocery store. She is currently working on a new YA novel as well as a script for The Disney Channel.  
Find out more about Hilary's projects at her website And don't forget to follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
Here's more information about Hilary's new book "Reunited":

1 Concert.  2,000 Miles.  3 Ex-Best Friends.
REUNITED – Synopsis 
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.  Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.  But when the band broke up, so did their friendship.  Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.  Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.  Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse.  And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town.  But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

REUNITED is available for purchase here:


At July 8, 2012 at 6:03 AM , Blogger jenzen69 said...

This book sounds good. I have a 15 yr old and we love to read together, this book will be going on our summer reading list


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