Writing Song of the Day: “What About Your Friends” by TLC
We sometimes put ourselves in our writing, right? That means we draw from previous experiences, get inspired by people we meet in real life, or even make characters say things we wish we had the guts to say (I still want to tell certain people to shove it, but I digress). So if we “write what we know,” would we actually be friends with any of our characters? That’s the question the wonderful ladies at YA Highway
want to know.
As some of you may know, I’m working on the fourth major revision of my contemporary YA novel, Wants. This story follows four narratives: Savannah, the sometimes misunderstood bitch, Gavin, the intelligent loner, Austin, the jock-turned-bad bay, and Alicia, the insecure know-it-all. Out of all of these characters, I think Alicia reminds me the most of myself. When I was in high school, I had body issues–just like Alicia. I was the Black girl who listened to rock music–just like Alicia. And I sat in honors and Advanced Placement classes–just like, you got it, Alicia. So that means we would’ve been the best of friends, right?
While I think our similarities would have initially drawn us together, I think the best friendships are the ones you create with someone different from you. I’ll be honest–I would’ve HATED Savannah in high school. But I think we would’ve bonded if we had to sit next to each other in a class (this has happened to me before. I sat next to someone who I thought was “the bitch” in English class–and she ended up becoming one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met). As for the boys? I probably wouldn’t have spoken to them at all. Boys made me nervous in high school. So while I would’ve thought Gavin was cool, I wouldn’t have said anything to him unless he spoke to me first. Lame, right?
Hmmm, would I be friends with any of my characters? Well, let’s see- my historical YA manuscript In Limbo is about a fifteen year old boy, Sylvester “Syl” Houston, in the year 1918 who gets in fights, crushes on the cutest girl in school, and writes poetry- all while Spanish Influenza is about to take out a lot of the people that he loves. Would I have been his friend? Hells yeah! I loved hanging out with boys in school. And not because I was the biggest flirt or anything but because I got along better with boys- just being their friend. I also loooooved to write poetry when I was in high school so me and Syl would have bonded over that. But, I do have to keep in mind that Syl is white, and I am black…did I mention it’s set in 1918? We probably couldn’t have been out in public together. It’s a shame too, because I could have made him a better student–considering that I was the “cool nerd.” Okay, maybe not that cool but the popular kids did talk to me when they needed to copy my homework–that gives me some cool points, right?
I’m also working on a contemporary YA manuscript (one of my many new WIPs and shiny new ideas) about an outcast sixteen year old named Blake, who’s best friend (the school’s drug dealer) goes missing. Blake is strange–he says exactly what’s on his mind, he has a hook nose piercing, keeps his hair in his face, and worships bands like Atreyu and Megadeath. I would have pretty much stayed as far away from his as possible.
We could write about this topic FOREVER! But we’ll turn it over to you all, instead. Would you be friends with any of your characters?