Know Your Audience

I've always considered myself a hip bitchin' cool Mom (though I'm sure my kids wouldn't always agree). After all, I listen to their music (I actually like it), watch their TV shows and read the same books they read (I love YA and I'm not the only one).

As a children's writer, keeping up with what your audience is and isn't "into" becomes crucial. They can smell "old" from miles away. For example, having a contemporary children's character twirl a telephone cord around her finger while talking on the phone is probably a no-no.

According to The Beloit College annual Mindset List which provides a yearly recap of the things that shape the lives of students entering college during any given year, most of the eighteen and under crowd have never used a corded phone or worn a watch, Beethoven has always been a dog to them,
and John McEnroe never actually played tennis.You can find the whole list here.

All of this information is useful to a writer when getting down to the details of a story. I consider it a natural part of my research.

So how do you stay current in your writing? Do you have any tips or tricks you use?


Sarah E Olson said...

Interesting list. It's something I take for granted until someone points it out. I think having beta readers in the YA age group are a necessity. Also, use your friends and family who have children. Ask them questions on their lives and see how it differs from what you remember. I'm lucky that I have a 15-year old sister (even though I'm in my 30s) so I can always bounce ideas off of her.

Lisa Potts said...

Sarah, I agree completely about the beta readers in the appropriate age group. I'm lucky enough to live with two.

Dayana Stockdale said...

I look to the core of adolescence. What are the things that are unchanging? Trends come and go. But there is always dissent, angst, hormones, and the actual rewiring of neural pathways in the brain. Find what you think creates adolescence and write about that no matter the setting.

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