Workshop 18: Writing for Today’s Tweens
Nicole O’Dell (right), author of the Scenario for Girl series and the Diamond Estate series, commented in her workshop that although tweens are generally between 9- and 15-years-old, being one is a mindset rather than an age.
Seventy-five percent of all tweens own cell phones. Many of these contain Internet access.
The same percentage applies to tweens who have had boyfriends/girlfriends. We can’t assume that dating at this age is the same as when the parents were children. Things have changed.
Tweens deal with difficult situations
Since Nicole writes books that deal with real issues encountered by tweens, she receives notes from them. These are a few examples that illustrate their many heart-wrenching challenges:
- My parents got divorced last year.
- My friend’s been cutting herself.
- I’ve been making myself throw up.
When writing for tweens, decide on the message. Do you want to entertain them? Because there can be so much heartache in their lives, they need lighthearted stories.
Balance a desire to keep them unaffected by the world, with the realization that tweens can’t be isolated from what’s happening around them.
If you decide to write about the tough issues, you we must have a reason for showing bad choices. Show what happens the next day. Show the consequences.
Handling the tough issues
How far should you go in our story? Nicole suggested asking the following questions:
- Why include this scene?
- Can I remove it without changing the impact of the story?
- Did I cross a line?
“If we don’t figure out a way to help them cope, they end up being one way at home, one way at church, and one way at school,” O’Dell said. “We need to find a way to help them be who they are everywhere.”
Always be genuine and sincere. Tweens seen through dishonesty.
Listen to God
O’Dell’s best advice is to pray about the message. “Listen to God on what He wants you to write and how He wants you to write it. Be willing to defend it.”
You must like tweens to write for them. Be passionate for them. Appreciate their creativity. Answer their questions. They might not have anyone else in their lives who will respond with a Christian worldview.