For the past couple of weeks I’ve been writing chapters from my male characters’ point of views. Because I’m a glutton for punishment and because I get myself in over my head regularly when I’m writing, I decided to include TWO teenage male POV characters in my Work in Progress.
Last night when my husband got home I lamented the day’s dismal word count and challenging subject.
“I’m having trouble writing from a 17-year-old boy’s perspective,” I told
Kory. “I just don’t think I understand them.”
His response was, “No one understands 17-year-old boys, least of all 17-year-old boys.”
“So I shouldn’t ask them how they feel? Should I ask their mothers?”
I’m not sure interviewing moms would help all that much. After all I’m the mother of an 11-year-old boy and most of the time I have no idea what’s going through his head. Unfortunately, I see this getting worse before it gets better.
I often use music to “get to know” my characters. I find songs that relate to the character’s journey or inner wounds, and by listening to them repeatedly I’m better able to get in touch with that character’s emotions.
Lately I’ve been terrified that I was going to have to start listening to rap in order to better understand a 17-year-old’s perspective. A pesky voice whispered that I should “do the thing that scares me.” But rap? Did it have to be rap?
Rap brings out the granny in me. I just don’t get it. I have no frame of reference with which to interpret it.
And yet I felt like I owed it to somebody to listen to rap. How could my characters be authentic if I didn't?
But the truth is we all experience the same emotions although we might react differently or act upon them differently. The songs I pick for my characters are really songs that help me get in touch with my own emotions. If I get to that authentic place then I’ve grabbed hold of something universal whether I’m writing from the perspective of a college girl, an invalid, or a 17-year-old boy.
I have a pretty good playlist going over on Spotify, and while there’s no rap on it, there are quite a few songs that remind me how it feels to be confused, afraid, angry, or in love. I hope my “boys” Blaise and Whit are living that out on the page.
But if you happen to know a 17-year-old guy who enjoys talking about his feelings, send him my way. I could use the help!