27 October 2010

Inside Jokes about Beautiful People

Write4Kids shared some comments from actual teenaged book readers about what they look for in fiction.

Two items struck me. One was that some of these readers are very explicit about wanting “good-looking people.” For example:

Caroline really hates when the good-looking main character is in love with a “freak of the week”, and she wants at least one beautiful person in a novel, preferably more.
Others prefers “Beautiful people” with “Unique names” and “British accents (Audrey and Caroline agree with this times 20).” Which I guess, since we’re talking about prose, means writing things like “She was beautiful,” and, “He spoke with a British accent.” That’s so much easier than having to draw or cast beautiful British people.

Another quality sought by two of the readers is “Inside jokes.” To be specific, “Inside jokes that are funny!” And:
Seriously, if you’re writing for teens, and you don’t include an entertaining inside joke, I’ll be like “no.”
This I have more trouble understanding. I think of an “inside joke” as one understood by teller and hearer because they belong to a small group of people who share certain references. If the teller is an author, and the hearer one of thousands of readers, does that qualify? And what shared knowledge defines the group? Knowledge of a certain canon of literature, of what it’s like being a young adult in America today, of what’s happened previously in a series?

(The post’s main author also thinks the name “Damian” is so over. *tt*)


Richard Bensam said...

Re the Damian quip: Hh!

gail said...

You know, I read Behind the Curtain, and I don't remember Ty. But, then, I'm not fourteen years old.

Maybe he was the police chief's son. I sure hope it wasn't the brother they were all so fixated on.

historyman68 said...

I dunno, I think most of the kids come off as less superficial than your pullquotes suggest. For example, I think this is pretty solid:

"Finally, I have a request. Write a normal love interest for us. Someone who isn’t all mysterious and dark and brooding. Someone who doesn’t have eyes that convey hidden depths or battle scars that form weird tattoos. Someone who doesn’t display exceedingly stalkerish traits and isn’t illogically overprotective. Someone who isn’t named Damien."

J. L. Bell said...

I pulled observations that (a) two or more of the young readers had made which (b) struck or puzzled me.

The comment at the end from Audrey, the reader who gathered the others’ comments, made an interesting contrast with some of the earlier ones. She wants “normal”, having read just too damian much with the dark and brooding. But Audrey was also among those asking for British accents. So even this plea for “normal” comes with a wish for the exotic.