Be Careful Not to Show Your Age

Remember the days of gr8 and l8r? Thinking of using them in your YA novel to make your teens ‘cool’ and ‘hip’. Think again! These days a lot of teens have iphones, along with predictive text, and they’ve gone back to using complete sentences. Using l8r will date your writing. Other things date writing too – brand names that are popular at a particular moment in time, bands, magazines, radio shows, movies.

Looking back through my first Amy Green, I realise now that I should have used a fictional social networking site instead of Bebo. Most teens have shifted to Facebook these days, and in the US Bebo is practically unknown.

I also included Irish band, The Script, mainly because it’s one of my teen editor’s favourite bands (and she’s fab!). And luckily three years on The Script and still going strong. Along with the X Factor and other ‘brands’ I mentioned.

But in the latest book, Ask Amy Green: Bridesmaid Blitz (out in Oct), I took care not to mention any brands at all unless they were ones with ‘sticking power’, or are widely recognised, like Coke or X Factor. In the books I now have made up telly shows instead of real ones, and fictional bands like The Golden Lions and The Colts (these were also in books 1 and 2).

However I continued with the D4s (who are the mean girls in Amy Green), the Crombies (boys who wear designer gear and play rugby), the Emos and the Goths, as these all play an integral part in Amy Green’s life and hopefully will be around for a while to come.

In the adult book I’m currently writing, set in a second hand designer shop, I have lots of fictional labels – Faith Farenze, Maeve Fabien – and I’m delighted to report that my agent thought they actually existed, which means they must seem authentic. I have also used some real labels with sticking power – Gucci, Prada, Chanel.

So, are you dating your work? Have a look and see.

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX