I am an aspiring YA Realistic Fiction writer, but I’m still on the younger side… So I was wondering if anyone else struggles with this problem, but how do you write about experiences that you haven’t had yet (Think dates and first kisses, vacationing unsupervised with your best friends, etc)? Thanks in advance!
Most YA writers are adults who have lived through the YA years and know what to write about. Write about the age you are and the things you know about if you are just starting out. It’s too difficult if you are not experienced to write with authority about anything. In the meantime do a lot of YA reading to get the chops for writing about it. Reading is great experience. I write YA and NA but I’ve had a lot of experience and I write from that experience. If you want realism, it’s hard to fake it.
When it comes down to writing about experiences you’ve never had, it’s best to do some research. This could mean reading about these things, asking people what it was like, looking on the internet about so-and-so.
What you write depends on the situation of the character as well as the plot.
I’ll use your examples as my examples.
If you’ve never had a date before, specifically a first date, you can always ask others about what it’s like to date. Where do they go? What do they talk about? How do they feel? It’s also nice to look at other stories and see how they write about it. Of course, dating is scary and awkward and nerve wracking, so everyone feels that way. However, you may go to different places than others might. Some, for example, may have a first date at a movie theater. Or others may have one at a restaurant. Others may combine multiple places into a single date. For example, you could do mini-golf and then a restaurant. Or it could be as simple as going to a fair, carnival, or theme park. Or a beach. It all depends on the personality of your characters and their location.
- First kisses.
I’ve never been kissed, so it’s hard to describe it. But I asked my sister (who is married) how it’s like and she told me that it’s slobbery and awkward. So I make my first kisses just the same to keep it real. No fireworks, no sparks, no craziness. But this is something you can ask others how it was like.
- Vacationing unsupervised.
This mainly depends on the location and the parents. While it seems cool that this might happen, it doesn’t always happen in real life. When you become a parent, you’re trying to raise your kid to make smarter choices. Or, it would be for safety and not like… you know, the whole “my kid just got pregnant” ordeal. Some parents are strict and would never allow you to go somewhere unsupervised. This could be because of the pregnancy thing or for the fact that they want to make sure you’re not getting kidnapped or hurt (you know, by a serial killer).
My parents, for example, never allowed us to go anywhere unsupervised. But… things do happen. For example, when my brother was fourteen, he went on a weekend trip with his girlfriend to a cabin. They went with her parents, so they weren’t unsupervised. However, there were times when they were able to be alone, so… that was an open window for them to have intercourse (which did happen).
And my little sister has gone on multiple camping trips with me and our older sister, but we’re both adults (I’m 22, she’s 27—the little one is 12) so while it’s without any parents, we’re supervising her.
So like, it differs upon the parents and situation. But if you’re still interested in writing something about this, it’s best to ask around and see if anyone has truly been on an unsupervised vacation and what it was like and so on.
I see. That is very sound advice. Maybe I should just stick to Teen Fiction for now.
Thanks, that is very helpful, especially since you broke the topics up. I understand now.
Some of it’s research, some of it’s talking with people you know who have had those experiences you haven’t had.
Like, having a first kiss with someone is one thing, writing a first kiss with someone is something else.
It also depends on how old your character is, their personality and their parents.
Different parents would act different ways to their teen going on an unsupervised trip with friends. While many would require a phone call a few times a day, some would be a ‘call me when you get there and before you leave’ kind of parent.
Talk to friend’s. To write kisses, use online resources and figure out how your character’s personalities would go about it and have it fit the situation.
Use your imagination. Watch a lot of people. Watch a lot of movies. Most likely you’ll be close enough that people fill in their own details from real life. Anything you get really wrong, readers will let you know. If you can’t even imagine what something would be like then don’t write it. People just want a good story, so don’t stress too much.
I definitely think having gone through MOST of the experiences you are writing about makes it easy however sitting down and researching is a great way to get information for your book.
Interviewing friends, family or even starting a forum on a website asking others for their experiences with certain topics (great for the anonymous answers from strangers who wold never share certain instances with someone they knew).
I once read a YA Fiction book on an assault on the MC and in the acknowledgements the author had a lengthy explanation of how she really wanted to do the topic justice and how she felt those reading it deserved to have the reality of it explained thoroughly, yet tastefully. She went on to thank some people who worked closely with her while writing the book explaining the trauma, feelings and healing that they went through so that it was as authentic as it could be without her having struggled with it herself.