Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Teen Boy Readers: What They Like and What They Wish Writers Knew
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I have twin 14-year-old sons who will be high school freshmen this year. *sigh* I honestly can't believe my little premie boys will be in 9th grade.
As a writer of YA novels, it's helpful to have teen sons in the house. As kids head back to school, I thought it would be fun to ask both of my boys and two of their friends some questions about what teen readers like and what they wish writers knew. It's good for writers to hear from their target readers, yes? So here's Nathan, Loker, Blake, and Garrett.
1) What are your favorite types of stories? Science Fiction? Fantasy? Dystopian? Real life/contemporary?
Nathan: "I don't care too much about the type of book as long as it is fun to read. But if I had to pick something that would immediately catch my attention, it would be Dystopian."
Loker: "As long as it catches my attention, I'll be glad to read just about anything. But I like Dystopian because it's a twisted version of our world. I like fantasy because it's a completely new world."
Blake: "Fantasy, because they let me get lost in a book and a new world."
Garrett: "Dystopian, because those plots are interesting and keep me in suspense. They show a messed up world that can possibly happen. I like fantasy because I like the thought of an imaginary world."
2) Do you like to read "older" books--books with main characters who are older than you?
Nathan: Yes is the simple answer, but they can also be my age. Once again, if it's well written, I'll read almost any book."
Loker: "If I can find a book with characters who are my age, I'm glad because I can picture myself as the character. If I had to choose between characters who are younger or older than me, I'd choose older."
Blake: "Sometimes. But the age of the character doesn't matter to me, as long as the story is good."
Garrett: "Yes, because those characters are more mature and they can think through problems."
3) What do you wish writers knew about teen readers?
Nathan: (Spoiler alert!) "Sometimes a happy ending isn't always exciting. It makes it predictable. I have read a series where the author throws many unpredictable twists. I like this as long as there was not so many that it made the story hard to follow. This author's name was Darren Shan, and I liked is work a lot because not only did he create an intriguing story, but throughout the series he created a future that had been laid on the main character that in the last book he changes in an unbelievable way that killed him. The ending of that book has made me a fan of all of his books."
Loker: "Sometimes when I'm reading a book and a hear about a new, imaginary religion, I'm curious to know more about that religion and their customs."
Blake: "I wish writers would write more action in the beginning. Some stories begin too slowly. Most stories have big battles at the end, but I wish there was more of that throughout the story."
Garrett: "I wish there were more books with extreme suspense that builds, like in The Maze Runner. I like it when there's action to keep me interested."
So there you have it! A small sampling of teen boys--what they like and what they wish writers knew about them. Did any of their answers surprise you? Were they on target with what you assumed? Any other questions you'd like me to ask them?