Hello and welcome to this week’s creative writing tip, which is a vital issue for Christians who write fiction for children and young people.

Recently, a writer-for-a-reason asked me:

– How do I capture the realistic tone and cadence of a modern UK teenager’s speech a little better than I have so far!?

What an excellent question!

This is VITAL to get right – writers ignore this issue at their peril. If a potential reader picks up the book and the language looks dated, they will automatically think:

“This isn’t for me. ” Noooooo!

There’s one BIG solution. Spend time in the presence of your potential readers.

This really is the very best way you can absorb the way your readers (and therefore your characters) speak. Watch out for:

1. The way they talk to different people (peers, parents, siblings etc.).

2. Their body language while they are saying what they say – this will tell you a lot!

3. What they talk about.

4. The vocabulary they use.

Also, while you’re in the zone, take a note of their clothing/hairstyles/jewellery/make-up, for descriptive purposes.

If you absolutely can’t do this right now (sigh), here’s an alternative:

Watch TV shows loved by the age group you are writing for – reality TV shoes and dramas with real-life scenarios are the best. (If you don’t know what to watch, ask your potential readers what they like.) Be prepared to be shocked! But hey, there’s no point writing from an ivory tower… and you will glean so much useful information.

Whatever you do, keep writing, because only you can write your story, and someone, somewhere, is waiting for it.

Janet Wilson, founder of Dernier Publishing


P.S. Registration for the Write for a Reason Academy opens tomorrow, for the January intake. If you want to take your writing to the next level, and don’t want to waste any more time making easily-remedied mistakes (possibly that you don’t even know you are making), you will want to join. Click here for more info.

Getting Dialogue Right
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