Hahaha! Raise your hands if you saw the title of this writing article and immediately groaned and rolled your eyes at the idea of hearing me talk about it! 😀
Yes, yes…I know. If you thought it was a secret, it’s not. I am well aware of my use of teen angst in my stories, and have gotten countless angry emails about it over the years. Trust me…I know.
BUT…if any of my readers feel angry, impatient, worried, or sexually FRUSTRATED beyond belief, when reading my stories…then congratulations! LOL! Welcome back to your teenage years! Did you all live a different life than I did at that age? I lost my virginity when I was 13, and that’s pretty damn young now that I’m looking back at it. And I was still living with heavy doses of angst every single day of my life from then until college! In fact, it was a constant struggle with sexual frustration and hints of depression over being in love with my best friend (Who I was sharing a tiny apartment with at the time) that caused me to create the “Shack Out Back” website in the first place! It was a release from all of those bottled up feelings that I was forced to hide from the world. And that was in college.
So if readers are angry and want me to hurry things along, I’m always compelled to ask…
“Do you remember what it was like to be that age and discovering love for the first time?”
Now, all of us have different experiences growing up, and I get that. But the obstacles that I put in my characters’ way are (in my opinion) extremely realistic and relatable to my readers. Frustration and all. What 15 year old just goes ‘all in’ to a frightening situation like that, being fearless and reckless and unaware of the consequences that may follow his desperate, yet insecure, actions? I mean, let’s be honest here…was that YOU when you were a teenager? There might be a few of you guys out there who came out of the closet when you were ten and never looked back…but for the huge majority of us, I’m assuming that it wasn’t that easy to tell the most beautiful boy that you’ve EVER seen in your life that you’re madly in love with him and want to ask him out on a date. Hehehe, maybe that’s just me.
For this article, we’re talking about ‘angst’ in teen stories…and how folks can just calm down and see it as a GOOD thing in the long run! Geez! Get yourself a drink and relax, for crying out loud. It’s just a story.
I think one of my own biggest flaws is not being able to write as fast as my audience can read. I simply can’t do it. I’m not a robot. I need to sleep, I need human interaction with my friends and family, I watch movies, I cook dinner, I play video games…I actually exist outside of the ‘Comicality’ persona that I’ve created online. And to people that want to click a link to a story, and gobble up ten whole years worth of hard work and emotional expression in a single day without a definitive end to the story…it aggravates them to the point of wanting to threaten me with physical HARM! LOL! So putting angst in my stories is like a huge ‘cock block’ to them, and I apologize for that. I’m not trying to get you all triggered and bent out of shape. I’m actually trying to tell a story worth telling, here. K? Hang in there. Have some patience. Just because you read it all in a single day doesn’t mean that I wrote it all in a single day! Slow down. Pace yourself for God’s sake! 😛
The thing about angst, when it comes to writing a story, is actually a tool that I use to carry my readers on a journey. It creates a story arc for the main character that brings them from being isolated and afraid…to finally embracing their true feelings and accepting themselves for who they are…to eventually winning the ultimate prize, and gaining access to the heart of their dream boy. It’s a plot device that gives the character something to ‘struggle’ with emotionally and eventually overcome in order to earn their reward. I mean…do you get it?
How many stories could I write with a boy just seeing another boy from a distance, and thinking, “Wow! He’s hot!” So he just walks over and says, “You’re hot! Wanna come over to my house later for some sex?” and the other boy says, “I’m gay too! Awesome! Let’s go!” And the rest is all written fictional porn? It’s good for a ‘quickie’, I suppose…but I try to hold myself to a higher standard than that, if I can. What is their relationship? What do they have in common? How do they interact with one another? A majority of sex is a mental and emotional experience. It’s not just sticking your dick in a moist hole for three minutes. I mean, that can be a sexy interlude for some…but it’s not going to cut it if you’re looking to tell a longer story with any depth or romance involved in it.
Trust me…people will jack off to your story, roll over, and go to sleep. And that will be the end of that. So you can decide if that’s the level of involvement hat you want to have with your readers or not.
To me? Angst is what makes the story ‘exciting’. As I’ve said in earlier articles…you draw your readers in with the questions you present to them. What is he thinking? What can I do with this feeling in my heart? What will happen if I tell him how I feel? How will I survive if he rejects me? We’ve all been there at one time or another. It’s a basic, widely known, part of our human experience when it comes to love. It’s SCARY the first few times you have to navigate your way through it. And you’d think it would be much less frightening when you get older…but it really isn’t. You’re putting your heart on the line, people. When you’re writing your story, act like the stakes are as high as they should be when it comes to approaching love for the first time. There should be doubt, and fear, and desire, and confusion, and determination, and excitement, mixed with sadness, and hopelessness, and distance, and embarrassment. Love is a complicated emotion. Walk around and explore every aspect of it. And take as long as you feel you need to do that. Don’t let people who are trying to rush rush RUSH to the point con you into speeding things up. You’re a writer. You tell your story the way you want to tell it. And do it at your own pace. It’ll be fine. In fact…it’ll be better.
Angst in your narrative is what gives real ‘value’ to the reward that follows. Or even the lack thereof. The point is, it adds a layer of tension and depth to your project by raising the stakes and making your characters that much more enticing. You get to dive into their inner struggles as well as their outer obstacles. Embrace that! And use it as a tool to invoke emotion and concern for your main characters. There’s nothing wrong with ‘porn without plot’, if that’s what you want to write. But if it isn’t, and you want to do something different…then make your protagonist work to get what he wants. Write out that inner dialogue that gives your readers a glimpse of who they are as a person. Who they are on the inside. It’s ok to let them make mistakes. It’s ok to let them chicken out every once in a while when it comes to the big ‘confession’ of how they feel. You, as a writer, are allowed to make your characters less than perfect. Less than ‘brave’. Just because some people are banging their fists against their heads because the want to hurry up and get to the sexy stuff…that’s no reason for you to abandon your game plan and your original idea for the story. Those people can wait. And if not…they can leave. Bye! Will you really miss the insults and the criticism when they’re gone?
Hehehe, yeah…that’s what I thought.
Check out this short film. I think it really displays what the angst of a gay teenager feels like, perfectly. Very well done! Also, it features Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick (Who played ‘Damien’ in the remake of “The Omen”) and Dante Palminteri (Son of Chaz Palminteri, who’s just awesome in general! “A Bronx Tale” with Robert De Niro ROCKS!!!). Yeah, this is how you use teen angst to empower the emotional connection to a story. Keep that in mind.
Teen angst…if you’re writing a teen story, or even an adult story…try to remember what it’s like to be totally captivated by another person, and how difficult it might be to just ‘sexually ASSAULT’ them on sight! Hehehe! Let your main character and their love interest warm up to things first. Massage your narrative. And weave them together before blowing your entire load in the first few paragraphs. It’s ok to take your time with these things. K? Relax. A little angst goes a long way. And it’s going to make that big ‘moment’…that monumental payoff…all the more special when you decide to let people read it.
As always, I hope this helps you guys out with crafting your own stories from scratch! I’m giving away all of the secrets that I can! Hehehe! One of you is gonna have to take my place someday. So start practicing now! Go! And do it better than I did!
Love you! And I’ll seezya soon!