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MonaLeigh
06-03-2010, 04:17 AM
I'm working on a middle grade (I think it's middle grade, or is it YA?) novel about a 12 year old girl. What types of things/hobbies are girls that age into?

Thanks.

suki
06-03-2010, 04:22 AM
I'm working on a middle grade (I think it's middle grade, or is it YA?) novel about a 12 year old girl. What types of things/hobbies are girls that age into?

Thanks.

Not to be snarky, but "12-13 year old girls" are in to all kinds of things - which girls? Where? When?

Your specific protagonist is who you need to know - what does she like? What is she into? You need to get to know her and what she specifically would like/be into.


May I suggest that if you are unsure what this age group are generally into, you might want to read a whole bunch of recent, acclaimed/popular MG books (And it's likely your book is MG with a 12-year-old protagonist) to see how they are presented.

But it's kind of a broad question.

And I'm just having trouble picturing how you can be writing about characters if you don't know "what they are into."

~suki

MonaLeigh
06-03-2010, 04:42 AM
I know who my character is, Im just looking for hobbies or things kids her age are into nowadays. When I was 12 I liked unicorns and sticker books. I know it's not the same now. Do 12 year olds have cell phones? Do they text?

Devil Ledbetter
06-03-2010, 04:47 AM
I have a 13-year-old. Suki is correct that they can be into all kinds of things, but I don't think you are obligated to read a library full of MG to be qualified to write about young teens. You were one once yourself, I presume.

My daughter is into anime, cosplay, drawing, reading detective novels, IMing with friends, all things Japanese, music, cooking, sweets, catching snakes, fishing ... I present these not as things your protagonist should be into, but because they represent an array of interests. If there is one "thing" she's really crazy about, I'd have to say it's Japan.

She rejects anything she perceives as too popular, marketed aggressively to tweens, or that she's expected to like, for example, Justin Beiber and Twilight.

The thing with girls this age is that it's not so much what they are into, but how much they are into it. They can be extremely passionate about their hobbies and interests.

Smish
06-03-2010, 04:50 AM
I know who my character is, Im just looking for hobbies or things kids her age are into nowadays. When I was 12 I liked unicorns and sticker books. I know it's not the same now. Do 12 year olds have cell phones? Do they text?

Many do. Some don't.

I'll echo Suki here. Read, read, read. There's a thread in the Writing for Kids section ('Talk about the kidlit you're reading' (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=151336)) that will provide lots of good book recommendations.

It's also helpful to spend time with MG-aged kids. And watch television programs that appeal to kidlit readers.

Research, research, research. You have to know the audience before you can successfully write for them, IMHO.

:)Smish

mccardey
06-03-2010, 04:53 AM
Do they text?

ohhhh yeah....

Devil Ledbetter
06-03-2010, 04:53 AM
I know who my character is, Im just looking for hobbies or things kids her age are into nowadays. When I was 12 I liked unicorns and sticker books. I know it's not the same now. Do 12 year olds have cell phones? Do they text?Most of them have cell phones. Some are more into texting than others. My daughter wouldn't be caught dead with a sticker book or a unicorn. ;) Hmm, she's reading over my shoulder and said, "Well, I would if it was an awesome unicorn and gave me candy."

I still disagree about reading tons of MG for ideas. You don't want your character's interest to be a spin-off of what you've read in other people's books.

sheadakota
06-03-2010, 05:04 AM
My 12 year old daughter loves to read- she loves all things related to dragons and is into the "'ology" books- Dragonology,wizardology, monster, ocean, ect...
She also loves to draw and write stories. She doesn't have a cell phone, she doesn't want one and has no interest in texting, hates twilight, and like Devil's daughter- tends to go against the grain as far as what is 'in'
She did just get an ipod touch for her birthday, but thats as techy as she gets.
She has no interest in clothes or fashion and thinks its 'dumb' to worry about what to wear.
Basically she is a really down to earth kid.:)

MonaLeigh
06-03-2010, 05:29 AM
I meant to add above but forgot, I've read and am reading a ton of MG books. I just don't want to copy what someone else is doing. I'm looking for things 12 year olds might be into that aren't in any of the books I've been reading.

I love the kids mentioned that aren't into texting, Twilight and tend to go against the grain.

Thanks!

Devil Ledbetter
06-03-2010, 05:34 AM
I just had another thought about this. Today's fads are going to be old news in a hurry and may severely "date" your story. But a lot of things young teens are into are timeless (fishing, reading, gossip). You may do well have your protagonist's hobbies and interests be of a more timeless nature rather than the things that are "in" this month.

At least, make them less specific or fictional. Use a fictional pop-star or book series, don't specify brands or makes and models (iPod Touch, Blackberry Storm) that are sure to be replaced by the next new thing in a matter of weeks.

Wayne K
06-03-2010, 05:44 AM
They're into 12-13 year old boys. They're into their looks. Clothes. A lot of them write. A lot are into playing sports

I'm a 112 year old man, but I talk to my nephews friends.

MonaLeigh
06-03-2010, 05:47 AM
I just had another thought about this. Today's fads are going to be old news in a hurry and may severely "date" your story. But a lot of things young teens are into are timeless (fishing, reading, gossip). You may do well have your protagonist's hobbies and interests be of a more timeless nature rather than the things that are "in" this month.

At least, make them less specific or fictional. Use a fictional pop-star or book series, don't specify brands or makes and models (iPod Touch, Blackberry Storm) that are sure to be replaced by the next new thing in a matter of weeks.

Thanks, I had thought of this, too. It seems like I see a lot of young girls do things like wear make-up, are into fashion etc. Stuff I wasn't into as a kid.

Amarie
06-03-2010, 06:00 AM
Twelve is a good age to write about because parents can be still making decisions on things like cell phones and texting. If you don't want your character to text, have her parents refuse to pay for it. Some parents allow and some don't.

Besides sports, by then girls can be really involved with dance or learning music. It depends very much on what socioeconomic group they are in for things like that though, because again, it is totally up to the parents. At twelve, a girl can only earn a minimal amount of money herself. Some girls that age are still very much children, while others are closer to mini-adults.

Don't go by the supposed twelve-year-olds you see on television. They have no resemblence to actual twelve-year-olds.

Dot Hutchison
06-03-2010, 06:01 AM
Dating myself here, but when I 12-13, Hanson was on its way out and Backstreet Boys and NSync were at their peak. Girls tended to be either very into them or couldn't care less. It was the same way with clothing, movie stars, and just about anything else. They could be into anything, but they were pretty much always passionate about it. Love it or hate it, they put everything they were into it.

Short of drinking, smoking, and swearing (okay, fine, drinking and smoking), a 12 or 13-year-old could be into just about anything. Look at your character, figure out what she likes to do. Chances are, it'll be fine, age-wise.

MonaLeigh
06-03-2010, 06:03 AM
Thanks Amarie! I seem to remember being caught between acting like a child and acting like a mini-adult. I remember babysitting a lot, and also thinking the people were nuts to have me babysit. I didn't care about the kids (I did watch and protect them, though!), but I was more interested in the junk food they had and chatting on the phone.

Smish
06-03-2010, 06:07 AM
Don't go by the supposed twelve-year-olds you see on television. They have no resemblence to actual twelve-year-olds.

Ha! Too true. The same can be said of any tv character, adult or child, really.

It all comes down to what suits YOUR character. It can really be anything at all, as every kid is different.

Have you read Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of Tree (there's also a sequel, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love) ?It's one of my favorite MG novels, partly because of this very thing. There are two MCs, and they couldn't be more different. One is into boys/clothes/pop culture, while the other is completely clueless about those things. Both are totally engaging, relatable characters.

Kalyke
06-03-2010, 06:23 AM
I wrote a 13 year old girl character who was exactly like I had been at that age, and I was told it was "unrealistic" by girls that age, so I would not go by what anyone says. I'd say basically they are very inexperienced, and not at all as smart as they think they really are-- they follow the crowd, like most teenagers think they are unique when they are just following a fad and things like that.

SirTysonius
12-12-2011, 09:17 PM
Gay vampires from my understanding.

L.C. Blackwell
12-13-2011, 12:08 AM
The thing with girls this age is that it's not so much what they are into, but how much they are into it. They can be extremely passionate about their hobbies and interests.

This really is where it's at. There's also the thing with wanting to push limits, wanting to do what everybody else gets permission to do, and how come I can't, and I have the most boring parents ever, except when things get scary, and then I'm so glad you're here, Mom and Dad.

They can be flighty--all giggles one minute, and pondering world issues at the next.

They don't know what they don't know. They're just pretty sure that time is cheating them and they'd better hurry up and grab whatever it is.

They can't sit still for half an hour, except when they're off in the world's longest daydream and everybody else is going to be ten minutes late for an appointment.

And of course, there's no love and no heartbreak like thirteen....

MamaStrong
12-13-2011, 12:18 AM
Let her tell you what she's into. My characters talk to me...I let them lead.

kuwisdelu
12-13-2011, 04:42 AM
My daughter is into anime, cosplay, drawing, reading detective novels, IMing with friends, all things Japanese, music, cooking, sweets, catching snakes, fishing ... I present these not as things your protagonist should be into, but because they represent an array of interests. If there is one "thing" she's really crazy about, I'd have to say it's Japan.

Sounds like me! Is she interested in being friends with a 22-year-old boy?

...wait, that doesn't sound so good. Never mind.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-13-2011, 09:05 AM
When i was thirteen i started getting into tolkien

Chasing the Horizon
12-14-2011, 05:19 AM
When I was 13 I was obsessed with death metal, Stephen King, Satanism, and dressing all in black. Basically I had an obsession with death and everything related to the dark side of life. And I loved the rush of power that came with frightening other kids and horrifying adults.

Contrary to what most people thought, however, I was NOT on drugs or having sex with any of my older male friends (I hung out with them because they liked the same music and horror movies I did). I never did anything to dissuade anyone of those notions, however, because I found it endlessly amusing to watch them (both peers and authority figures) freak out for no actual reason.

Yeah, I was an evil, manipulative kid and you probably don't want to base your character on me, lol.