“Language is paramount to making a young voice believable in both YA and coming-of-age adult fiction. Writers can create beautiful art using informal diction, kid-sized comparisons, invented words, and slang. Teen narrators are memorable not because their experiences of adolescence are unique but because they recount them in such a way that the reader revisits and rediscovers what it means to be a teenager.”
Although I think ‘revisits’ and ‘rediscovers’ suggest an older reader, I think the general idea is well grounded. Good narrators don’t have to explore new realms of experience; they have to express thoughts and emotions in a way that makes the reader think “Yes, that’s it exactly.”
Of course, this is true for “adult” fiction as well. But YA writers also have the challenge of creating thoughts and emotions that feel genuine to their character’s particular age and place as well. Most YA narrators are really encountering the world for the first time. For me, I find that one of the most exciting parts in writing YA. While the language might require more crafting, the emotions can really touch on the genuine and the revelatory.
Make sure to check out the whole article for more of Tilghman’s thoughts on voice.