My current WIP (whose rough draft I vow to have completed by the 15th even if it kills me) is my first attempt at YA. I read both adult fiction and YA, so it’s only natural my story ideas would cross between the two.
Writing for teens and for adults are two different beasts entirely, I'm learning. It's not so much HOW you write or WHAT you write about. I think the main divider is the extent of the importance adults place on certain matters versus their teen counterparts. Since I'm a bit of a Peter Pan type myself that part isn't so hard for me to tap into.
The real problem I'm having is figuring out what cultural reference are still relevant to teens, even those they haven't necessarily lived through. Elvis Presley for instance. The man died before I was born, but I still know exactly who he is and I'm willing to bet most teens have heard of him before. But not all cultural references are quite so timeless.
For instance, In my story there's a constant bantering that takes place between two characters. He likes to pick on her because she's short. She teases him because his hair is a bit on the longish side. They do this by greeting each other with ever-changing snarky nicknames.
Even if this story were to be published four years from now, I'm pretty sure most readers would still get a Justin Bieber dig...
<---- For the record, Carter looks more like this. No offense, Beebs, but you can't compete.
(I must stop staring at the picture. Back on track)
So I know the Bieber deal is fine, but would a sixteen year old girl think to use a Beatles reference?
And the one I'm really iffy on is when he refers to her as Frodo. Now several years back I wouldn't have questioned it, because the movies were huge, and there were plenty of teenage girls (and those of us a tad bit older) who were all kinds of googly-eyed over Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood. But is it a reference they'd still get now? Do teen boys still tackle books like LOTR?
I guess what I'm asking of my other YA writing friends, what do you do to verify whether a particular reference makes sense to today's teens? And/or does anyone know of a teen I can borrow for questioning? :D