I have a lot to say about the concept of reliving so I decided to break it down into two parts. This is the first part. Hopefully in between now and part two I’ll have posted GBM Chapter 8 and released it, so odds are the second part will come in two weeks instead.
In order to write like a <subject> you need to think like a <subject>. This seems obvious to most but I’ve realized that when I started writing Being More Social in 2014, I wasn’t even 18 yet and it was a lot easier to write like a high schooler because, wait for it, I was one. Five years have since passed and I find myself at an interesting difficulty – I’m not sure how well I can write like a high schooler without sacrificing my own maturity as a result.
Even when writing BMS I got complaints that I wasn’t writing realistically and that high school students do not talk like I made my characters talk. (I covered why I write the dialogue I do in my last blog post, WRITING EMOTIONAL DIALOGUE IN PORN, if you’re interested in an answer to that.) And that was me writing during high school, when I really didn’t know anything but being a student in high school. At this point in my life, I’ve been in university, I’ve been living a work-a-day life, I’ve been unemployed, and I’ve even been a teacher’s assistant, teaching kids the same age as the kids I’ve written about. From their level of immaturity, I can see why people have a hard time believing my dialogue is coming out of the mouths of 14-year-olds. I would say ‘no offense’ to my minor viewers, but you’re not supposed to be here reading this anyway, so ha, I have the high ground here.
At 22, I’m grasping less and less the perspective of a minor, much less one that causes and sustains drama. Perhaps when I was writing at 18, I was aided by the fact that I was fairly immature and took negative comments too seriously. That aided in my ability to write like an immature drama-starting teenager, because in a big way, I was one. I’m not sure what your impression of me is like, but I speak slowly and calmly in everyday life, and I didn’t in the past. I’m essentially an old man trapped in the body of a young adult. As such, when I write from the perspective of a minor, I have to think a lot more than before about what that means.
A lot of people, including writers, have difficulty speaking outside their own perspective. Ever seen a movie where the dialogue of all of the characters was so similar, you could take any line and clearly picture any character in the movie saying it? That’s a type of bad writing that’s fairly universal. A lot of writers start, and some stay, that way. In my way, I don’t write like a 100% accurate-to-life high schooler. I never have. But I still need to be aware that as time goes on, that starts slipping.
There are strategies to counter this, but they have their own weird consequences. This year, I made some younger friends who are frankly less mature than most friends I’ve made. I appreciate their friendship but I noticed that hanging around them too much, while it improved my writing of pettier less mature characters, also made me a pettier less mature person. I wasn’t too much of a fan of that, knowing how I used to be.
Another strategy was to read through my old high school notes and a couple of my more sarcastic essays. My old essays were terrible – I’d go on irrelevant tangents before completing the full idea in papers. It would appear that some things never change. This has effectively caused me to relive a lot of my high school memories, which were both nice and a little uncomfortable to relive at times.
It’s interesting to note that at 22 I already have to have ‘strategies’ to think like a high schooler. I’m hoping this is a result of my perfectionist nature and not a sign that I’m not as good as I’d hoped and just happened to strike gold with one story. I guess time will tell.
As mentioned, I’m aiming to have GBM 8 out this coming week. Thank you all for being patient with the updates – even with the incredible amount of support I’ve gotten, some ‘real-life’ matters sadly have to take precedent. I’ll talk to you all next week.