Question regarding one of my characters – a teenage girl

Question regarding one of my characters - a teenage girl

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My novel, Tempting in Shade (like the way I keep repeating its title? Marketing LOL), follows several characters. You’ve already been introduced to the wizard Verdant Pèlerin, the Pilot responsible for the portal or Lock that people use for entering the domain of Shade. Another character that I follow is Pari Azar, a 16 year old “witch” going on her initiation (her Tempting) among the people of Shade.

In reviewing my novel I am struck by how much I treat Pari as a person-on-a-mission but not as a 16 year old girl. Some would say this is good, that I am not being sexist. But I wonder whether in doing so I am missing something in my characterisation. I did try reading Twilight but found the teen angst over boys way too… unbearable. But is that what I need to inject? I’ve trawled forums and blogs about teenage girl issues and besides more teen angst I’ve found the whole fat/thin issue. A bit scared to enter this. Also breast size pops up a lot (too big, too small, everyone looks at them, no one looks at them, and so on). Friend issues also abound, but people of any age and gender have friendship issues. Perhaps if I go with either weight issues or breast-size issues, would that be acceptable and less painful than having Pari struggle with boy-problems? I think this insofar as it acknowledges her as a teenage girl without plunging me into an entire love-interest/angst subplot.

Or should I just ignore all this and go with Pari with nothing specifically teenage-girl about her?

Does anyone have any suggestions? Opinions? Am I being sexist in even thinking all this?!? I just want to write a realistic teenage girl! Arrgghh!

Thanks

Greg

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16 Comments


  1. Angst is HUGE as a teenager. I wouldn’t use Bella Swan as a model, but perhaps watch a few episodes of My So-Called Life?

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    1. Thanks for replying :) The interesting thing about why I hate reading teenage angst myself is that it reminds me of my own and makes me cringe. Considering that I am 50 and still have strong emotions relating to my feelings as a teenager, well… As a teenage boy I was so obsessed by girls it was ridiculous. But as an arty-nerd with an English accent and a lisp growing up in a surfy beachside suburb, I was generally considered homosexual (yes – truly!). So chances of getting a girl seemed very slim at the time. I will see if I can get copies of “My so-called life”. Thanks :) Greg

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      1. You basically summed up the teen-age experience, with modifications, of course.

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  2. I concur with Jetterfly, stay away from using Bella Swan as a model, as she was written to be a “blank slate” type of character, so female readers can better imagine themselves as her dating the boys within the story. Don’t worry, you’re not being sexist at all in doing research for writing a character of the opposite sex, I think that’s the best and wise thing to do. I tend to write male characters very well (or so I was told), because I simply copied the real life male personalities I had experienced throughout my life. That would be my suggestion to you, to use your experience of your youth around teenage girls in the past and base your character around her or a combination of them. Then again, that’s just my opinion, from a hack writer’s perspective. ;-)
    Good luck with your book truly! From the small bits that I had time to read, it seems very well written thus far! :-D

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    1. Thanks :) I will try as you say. Truth be told, as a young man I was clueless about my female equivalents. :) For some reason I am remembering a time when I was about 14. Our class went to see a movie. Somehow I managed to sit next to a girl for whom I had a massive crush. In the darkness her arm rubbed against mine. I tensed, did not move my arm, and was totally distracted by it for the rest of the film. I kept thinking “Her arm is touching mine. Her arm is touching mine…” I fantasised that afterwards she would want to talk to me or something. She didn’t. I so loathed that age. LOL Anyway, I will try as you say :) Thanks :)

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  3. I’ve no children so am not really qualified to stick my bib in. However in a previous life I had many, many dealings with kids of both genders who had run off the rails. It’s impossible to provide a model upon which to base your 16 year old. Most 16 year olds with whom I’ve had professional experience go out of their way to be impossible, different and a pain in the proverbial. I don’t envy you one little bit in your quest. Best of British luck as they say, unless you give her a drum and let her march to her own fictional beat.

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    1. Thanks for posting :) I think I certainly need to have some conflict between her and her parents, but I don’t want it to be too much like the shows on TV. One thing I really dislike about several teenage shows is that adults are portrayed as clueless and I believe that this is a bad thing as well as being untrue. But yes, I need to identify what it is in her own mind that makes her unique. :) Thanks

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  4. As one who struggles with story and writing I offer just a little tid bit on the the subject . In writing it helps very much to understand your characters thoughts, fears, motivations, goals, and aspirations. This help you the writer to place them in the story and gives you and ideal of how they would react. Remember in creative story telling it is not what you think or feel but rather you explaining what the character is going through and what they are all about. Hope this helps.

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    1. Thanks for posting :) Pari’s situation is that her mother is the equivalent of the security chief for her people and her father is one of her people’s great heroes, so neither has enough time for her. Also, her father has come down with a disease that may kill him and she is worried by this. And she has to undertake an 40 day initiation that thrusts her into unknown territory where she must not only survive but return to her people having made a profit. Thanks :)

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  5. I’d say, imagine if you got a teenage daughter, how would she behave? Pari is actually kinda like your daughter (You created her!).

    But in my opinion, if you truly wish for authenticity, you should incorporate a bit of everything that you mentioned for “Realism”. Those are real world issues that real world teenage girls are facing. Include them and chances are, you’d be able to let your readers be connected with her since they can relate to her experiences in the story world.

    Whatever it is, it’s your novel. Your world. You decide what is to happen. Let her have some usual teen girls’ happy moments (e.g. A cute guy asked for her number) and some frustrated moments (e.g. Dad keeps teasing daughter when she is on the phone with the boy).

    Hope this helped ;-)

    Your friend,
    David

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    1. Thank you for these words :) I have taken this into account in the character profile I have now written and given her a few moments like you suggest. Hopefully she sounds real (well, as real as a fantasy character can sound!) Thanks :)

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      1. Any time bud ;-)
        I’m sure you had fun writing it heh.

        Your friend,
        David

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        1. I did. I spent a lot of time thinking “who is this girl?” and reflecting upon conversations from my youth :) Thanks :)

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  6. My older brothers friend is a writer and ran into a similar problem. At that time I WAS a teenage girl, so he asked my friend and I a bunch of questions. Nothing wrong with going right to the source!

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    1. You are right about the source. So I have spent several hours trying to remember back to when I was young (a long, long time ago!!!) After I left school I finally gathered up the strength (LOL) to have friendships with girls (that sentence itself is enough to make me cringe – but I was very intimidated by the opposite sex when I was young). I ended up having LOTS of friends who were girls, and eventually ended up going out with the one I was to marry. I was 23 and she was 18 when we started dating. At the time I was more obsessed by my own insecurities, but now that I review those conversations from this distance I see a lot there that I missed at the time. All those girls told me things that I can now use (naturally I will never reveal who said what because many of them are still friends and they would kill me!).

      Thanks for this :)

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  7. For what it’s worth, I see teen girls as part young women and part girl, always struggling, reaching to be the best of womanhood while trying desperately to define what that means to her, for her. Lots of questions, inner searching, trying on slightly different personas, and shedding what doesn’t feel right, eventually finding what is best about themselves and hopefully solidifying that identity.

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