When you think of “teen” writing, you might be thinking about the stuff we’ve talked about over the last four days. That’s partly true, but in children’s writing, the “teen” genre is over 15. That means, they’re reading like adults. Selling fiction specifically directed toward the older teen market is very difficult.
However, nonfiction for teens is alive and well. I know… I’ve done 4 books for this market and the requirements are pretty interesting. Not only will your audience read like adults, they ‘re expected to read at a higher level.
Most teen nonfiction is academic. That means, upper-high school and college. So, the language has to be more elevated than what you’d use if you were writing for newspapers, for example, because they’re written at the level of seventh graders. In some ways, writing nonfiction for teens is actually harder than writing for adults.
The sentence structures can be quite complex, but for readability, you’ll want to keep a mix of simple and difficult sentences througout. Your sentences can be long or short, but again, readability is the key issue.
Your tone needs to be more formal, however, and contractions are a big no-no when writing for academic publishers. Here’s an excerpt from my book: The Dalai Lama, to give you an example:
“By ten years of age, the Dalai Lama’s life was an endless course of education and ritual. His studies continued as they had without interruption, and a majority of his time was spent in one palace or another, depending upon the season. Although intelligent people naturally crave opportunities for new experiences and adventures, the Dalai Lama was severely restricted by Tibet‘s isolationist status in the world and its deep-seated religious traditions, which included strict protocol regarding his behavior. He was a virtual prisoner of his society. The world outside Lhasa compelled him, and he wanted change in his structured existence.” (Patricia Cronin Marcello, The Dalai Lama, Greenwood Press, 2003.)
And be sure that you know Chicago Manual of Style. Books such as these require attribution, bibliographies, and indexing. Some of it is easy to do with a word processor, but you have to know your stuff. 🙂
We’ll talk more about writing for teens in the next few posts. Stay tuned.