'Ello! I’m Foxboi, the author of the WiP “A ‘Regular’ Life in New York”, ever since I was a really smol youngin (around ten years old), I fell in love the the CoG, HG and WiP stories and their take on the classic CYOA. Back in July 2018, I decided to release my first demo for my WiP to good success!
However, ever since I joined this community officially and started interacting with other authors, I’ve noticed the fact that I was considerably less younger than them (I’m still a teenager so it makes sense), which brings up the question that has been sitting in the back of my mind for months: In your opinion, what do you think of young authors (13-18) and their writing?
I ask this because, yes, I am one of those smol little young writers with a passion in literature. But honestly, what do you think of authors - both generally and in a CoG setting - of young age that decide to write?
Do you think the quality is slightly lower because of their inexperience? Are you grateful that the new generation is helping the world of literature? Do you respect them as you do other authors? Did you start as one of these youngins on the forum before growing into a mature adult?
In my opinion, age is a really bad indicator of quality. Have I run into young writers whose work screams immaturity? Sure, but I’ve also read really great stuff from the youngins. And on the flip side, I’ve read some really awful stuff from older writers. I think this site has a lot of great writers of every age (and probably a bunch of bad ones too), and I admire a good piece of writing regardless of the age of the person who wrote it.
Something I love about this community is that writers–regardless of age or ability–can come here and get constructive feedback. Even when I do run into a young writer whose work isn’t the best, the vast majority of the comments I see about their work is encouraging and helpful.
My only qualm about the age of writers has to do with age-specific content.
EG: I would feel a bit uncomfortable knowing an 11 year old wrote a steamy romance scene.
And, sometimes, as we get older, we lose our ability to really relate to teens. I’m coming up on 24 and already notice myself having trouble writing puppy dog drama, because I’m so far removed from who I was 8-10 years ago, you know?
So, quality of writing - it can vary person to person, regardless of age. But I definitely think there is something to be said for relatability of content.
Also, while I did not start on the forum as a child, I did start writing fanfiction on ff.net when I was 10…moved to Lunaescence (oh boy, that was a fun inner-circle drama, around 2010-2011), Jamlyfics, AO3…And I’ve been doing NaNo every year (except 2018, due to moving and such) for just as long.
Writing is a gift, even when the author is…less experienced and nuanced. No matter the age, no matter the quality, it takes courage to put your own words out there. I hope that lots of young coders & writers join ranks here c:
I had a creative writing professor who said, speaking of people writing in college, that “young people shouldn’t write stories, because nothing interesting has happened to them”. But he went on to say that if people waited until they were old enough to have interesting stories to tell, they might not have enough time to learn how to tell good stories, or to identify what good stories they had to tell. He felt reading young peoples’ stories was the cost of belonging to a literature community.
So, I do expect a lower quality. But I’m also excited because it’s a chance to say “I knew them when”.
A good writer won’t reveal their age in their writing. (I don’t mean on a forum or in an essay.) I should read a character from the POV of a forty-year-old woman and not know if it’s being written by a seventy-year-old woman or a fifteen-year-old boy. That takes a lot of work. (Case in point: when you said “smol youngin” I knew immediately you were still a “smol youngin”.
Writing is art, and ostensibly, art gets judged on the merits. So youngness shouldn’t be a factor, except for how it ends up in the art.
An author’s ability and skill have nothing to do with age per se; there are young authors that have raw ability to write and there are some that have skill taught to them early in life.
A story-teller can begin their career at any age but a writer then takes that raw ability and refines it through practice and learning. Some of us learn earlier than others but by beginning earlier, hopefully young writers can reach greater heights than they would have otherwise reached.
There are a couple of good young writers that are part of our community - @Cierra_Lawson_Writes is the newest young writer of our community. Their just introduced WiP is getting quite a good reception.
There are a couple of writers that started young and have matured and grown here. Cataphrak comes to mind here.
I love that authors of all ages, young and old are a community here. The younger authors here are experiencing a good solid community around them, so hopefully they carry that forward and can teach others.
If you experience good feedback here, you can identify toxic and harmful feedback later - whether that be a “creative writing” course in college where the professor has their own agenda or another online forum where trolls nest and try to corrupt others.
Young writers may not have the experience to tackle some darker, more mature material but they are closer to a perspective that can relate to younger readers and can succeed easier in writing stories for younger generations.
Getting told your writing is too immature for an audience is like an older author being told they write “too old” for their audience - both the younger and older writers have their challenges.
That is my point - every writer has their challenges and writing successfully means overcoming those challenges, no matter your age.
I’ve never looked my age… Actually I often don’t really act my age either which probably doesn’t help It’s actually quite surprising the difference in the way people treat you depending on your percieved age and if they know your actual age. It’s something I’ve always noticed and in some cases the difference can be really distinct. It almost seems to be a subconcious thing. Anyways, if people on your thread know how old you are that’s possibly where some of the feeling is coming from.
I disagree that you need to be older than your teens to write well though. I got far more practice and tuition writing while at high school than out in the “big bad post high school world.” You get more experience both in life events and if you continue writing with extra years, but I agree with @Eiwynn that you’re closer to the perspective of some topics that involve teenagers and may in fact be able to do a better job of it than someone looking back. Looking back at stuff I wrote in high school, I think I actually did a better job on occasion with lighter fluffier topics, but significantly worse at things involving darker or more serious themes. It also depends on individual ability. Someone at age 15, with heaps of natural ability might be percieved to write “better stories”, than another person who has continued to practice all the way through age 30. Can’t really paint everyone with the same brush.
Interestingly, someone brought up recently that they felt the majority of HG authors were probably in their teens/early twenties, something I suspect is not actually not the case based on those I know of. Shows that sometimes it is actually harder than you think to judge a piece of writing by the age of the author off the bat without more info.
Hmm, interesting topic.
I personally think both young and old authors can produce equally good and equally bad stories (regardless if it’s literature or something else). No one is immune to making bad stories.
I think the process alone of doing that is a talent on it’s own (hence why I really like art and yes, I know that creating art and being good at it takes years to do so but that’s besides the point).
There are many factors that affect your story (like say, making researches, keeping characters from going OOC (this particularly me thinks is hard to do), ect.) but age is not one of them.
The only thing age might be a factor to, is what type of story you want to create, but then again, personal interests and preferences are factors too.
There are a lot of things that go into the perceived “maturity” of one’s writing. Life experience. The breadth of diverse ideas one has been exposed to. Size of vocabulary. Education and upbringing. The stories we’ve been brought up with.
Devil’s advocate, however: when I see a work that looks like it was written by a 16-year-old, all of those other things account for the lack of maturity in the writing one out of ten times. The other nine times out of ten, it’s just that the writer is 16.
I see your devil’s advocate and raise a counter point. Wouldn’t the fact that a 16 year old has had fewer life experiences and less exposure to different ideas mean that the two categories that you separate can be conflated in many instances? I.e. immaturity = fewer life experiences/etc = young writer? It seems to me that they are invariably linked if not identical.
It’s a bit complicated… There’s no hard and fast rule that older writers are more competent than younger ones, or more practiced, or even necessarily more experienced in life terms. For a group of people who often tell stories about very young people undergoing extraordinary and even terrible experiences, writers are prone to forgetting that. You can’t really glance at someone you hardly know and immediately conclude what they’ve seen and what they’ve been through.
People mature at different rates. That’s not just lip service. People also have different parts of themselves mature at different rates to each other. I’ve met lots of people who were mentally brilliant and more than able to craft high level writing and storytelling, but those same people lacked the emotional maturity, or perhaps the experience, to learn how to deal with criticism. I include younger myself in that statement.
So I can’t honestly say that knowing a WIP writer’s young age won’t affect my interactions with them. I can just say that I don’t dismiss writers or projects based on age, and that I’ve often been surprised when discovering a writer’s age.
Whether the novel and IF was written by young or older author, the important thing is they were able to deliver their story to their audience. They were able to produce emotional attachment between their story and us, the readers but at the same time, they should also be mature enough to handle feedback, whether good or bad, with grace.
Personally, I’ve read some incredible works by teenage authors and terrible ones by practiced adult authors. In my opinion, it’s unfair to automatically discount a younger author’s work merely because of their age. One case that comes to mind in particular: The Outsiders is regarded by many as a great work of literature, and Hinton was a teenage when she wrote it.
While I don’t think the quality of works by young authors is necessarily lesser than that of works by adult authors, I also think most authors improve over time with practice. I know that I always look back on my writing from past years and think about how it could have been better. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad originally, just that I’ve improved as a writer.
I started writing my game on the forum when I was fourteen. My writing has definitely improved since then, but it wouldn’t have improved by nearly so much if people hadn’t been willing to give a teenage author a chance.
From a technical standpoint, I’ve been writing since I was 10.
Everyone starts young, everyone will have a lot of bad and embarrassing things they’ve jotted down, and some of it may in fact be downright shameful and not represent who you are later down the line.
But we all start somewhere, and as long as you enjoy it, you can keep on moving forward. Age is no indication of quality, but experience and learning from it is. Maybe there are some naturally good writers out there, maybe some people studied in classes, while others just consumed a lot of media.
In the end, writing is just self-expression. Even if it doesn’t become publish-worthy material that brings in royalties, if one can understand themselves better through writing or just plain have some fun, then it’s just as valuable as any paycheck. Money can be earned in a lot of ways, but fun memories and understanding of oneself are much harder to get your hands on.