Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can Better Understanding Adolescent Psychology Help Us Craft Better Fiction?

Teens often look to fiction for insights they might use in their real lives. So it may follow that in creating fiction, we can get insights into the characters we create by exploring real-world insights.

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the New York Times Bestselling Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and the New Realities of Girl World

It's "The Groundbreaking Classic that inspired Mean Girls" and

Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope With Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World.

Rosalind discusses types of behavior, not types of kids, and her structural analysis, based on interviews and her work with thousands of boys and girls, is fascinating.

Like the difference between Good Teasing (where you feel liked, don't feel put down, and it will stop if asked), Ignorant Teasing (where you don't know how the first person feels or 'I was just joking') and Malicious Teasing (where the teasing is for insecurities, you're called 'uptight' or threatened with ending the friendship if you protest, and it's relentless and public.)

The interaction between children and their parents,

"It's normal to hate the kids who are mean to your kid. They're aware of who you judge."
some kids' view that

"It's not a lie if you don't ask the right question."

And how parents can get past "it's fine" and have their kids open up to them.

The books are written for parents and kids, but they are also a resource for writers, full of wisdom like:

"boys are extremely strategic about who they tell what" 

and how

"homophobia is absolutely key to shutting boys up when they see social injustice."

Thinking about how who gets to decide a re-do in playing 4-square and how social power is based on tiny conflicts that build, how learning to say nothing is normalized... it's all great material for our material.

Illustrate and Write On,

p.s. - the quotes above are from a talk given by the author that I attended after the release of Masterminds & Wingmen.

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