Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Today is: October is National Sarcasm Awareness month.

I'm not sure if they mean we should increase our sarcasm awareness to avoid it, or to improve our usage of it. But either way, it got me thinking about something I've heard a lot about lately. Voice.

Voice is hard do define. It's something that's either there or not. But, when it comes to YA voice, many writers think they can slap on a healthy coat of sarcasm and voila: teen voice.

Not so.

Although many teens do mix up their vocabulary with a heavy dose of sarcasm, it doesn't always work great on the page. Constant, acerbic, snarky sarcasm actually distances a reader from the character. Few readers want to spend that much time with such a character.

If you use sarcasm as your key point of voice, it had better be for a good reason.

Voice is what gives the reader insight into your character, it should represent the POV character's outlook on the world. Is he/she hiding behind sarcasm? Why? Is it a wall to keep the world out? Is it keeping the reader out as well? Is the story itself compelling enough to read past the sarcasm?

In my family, we were raised on sarcasm, so it's really hard for me not to overdo it my writing. And sometimes sarcasm is done very well and works beautifully in YA novels. But so often it does not.

Sarcasm in teens usually is a front, a show, and doesn't truthfully represent the person inside. But it's the person inside that readers want to get close to. So when all seems hopeless and life--either physically or emotionally--hangs in the balance, the use of sarcasm can utterly ruin the intensity of the moment.

Stay tuned for my next few posts in which I will try to help define YA voice and how to use it.


  1. Very true. I would add whining to the list. It might be realistic, but it gets pretty annoying to read.

  2. Michelle, I think especially as parent's we get sick fast of whining in books. We hear it all day long from our own kids, and the last thing we need is more of it in a book. That's why it's called "escape."

  3. Loved this and I think it is a good thing most teens don't know about it. As a mother of a teen, I couldn't even imagine what October would be like in my house. LOL.

    Also, found you through the Book Lovers Blog Hop.