Saturday, August 23, 2014

Getting into Character - Writing about teenagers in 2014

One of the most frequent questions I get about writing young adult books is how I get into the mindset of a teenager. Some people find it strange that a forty something year old woman can accurately capture the thoughts and feelings of a modern teen. After all, when I was a teen, the internet was still just a figment of Al Gore’s imagination. Back then, when we wanted to call our friends, we used the rotary dial phone on the wall in the kitchen. If we wanted privacy, we pulled the handset into the hall closet and shut the door.
Still, as a teacher and a mother, I have an advantage. I get to live and work with twenty first century teenagers every day.  And because I am a word person, I love to examine their current slang. Mind you, I don’t use much of it in my books because I don’t want to be overly stylistic. That would make my books go out of style pretty quick. However, I still love to reflect on trends, and I find slang to be very amusing. So shared here, just for the readers of Zigzag Timeline, five interesting and mildly confusing teen slang terms.
1.     Turn up
This means to party. Or to get ready to party. Or to be excited to party. Here it is in a sentence.
Britney is having a party this weekend because her parents are going to New York. Turn up!
2.     Mad
This one is used in place of the word very. It has nothing to do with ones emotional state or sanity. Here it is used in a sentence.
That boy’s got mad skills on the basketball court. He’s going to the NBA.
3.     Doe
This one is hard and I’m sure if I tried to use it, I would do it all wrong. But I think it means something similar to the word though. Mostly, it’s added just for emphasis I think.
Sentence: Oh, this bike, doe.
4.     Turnt
All I can think of when I hear this one is turnips, but supposedly it means getting rowdy or having fun.
Sentence: We are going to get turnt at that pep rally!
5.     YASSSS
This just means yes but with ten times the excitement of an average yes. Like when a fangirl is going to a concert with her favorite band.
Sentence: Headed to One Direction! YASSSSS!

Despite my research and my daily exposure to teenagers, I still find that tapping into my own teenage years and remembering the emotions, the fears, and the triumphs I went through is the best way to write about teenagers. Trends and technological advances will constantly change, but the universal human experience of coming of age is mostly the same. Exploring your talents, having your heart broken, facing your failures and enjoying successes all shape who we become as adults. And for me, I love that I get to relive that time in my life through my stories.

To learn more about me and my writing, please check me out online at or on facebook and twitter at Melissa MacVicar-Author and @melissamacvicar

Ever Lost (Secret Affinity, #2)

New town, new school, new ghost.

 Jade has a dedicated boyfriend, an overprotective mom, and a full scholarship. Uprooted from Nantucket, Jade is installed off-island at her dad’s new house so she can attend snobby Layton Academy. Leaving Charlie behind is sheer torment, but living with her father has plenty of dangerous distraction—in the form of a terrifying spirit haunting her new school. Hottie classmate Mateo Fernandez can’t see the ghost, but he knows its story. He’d like to know hers, too, but Jade still misses Charlie, even though distance seems to be changing him.

With support from Mateo and the mysterious Noemie, Jade commits to helping the agonized spirit cross over. As she delves into the ghost’s past, the disturbing secrets Jade learns draw her into a deadly confrontation with a desperate man. If she can’t play his demented game, the spirit’s harrowing fate could become her own.


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