One of the most significant pieces of work that I’ve been writing has been a series that follows a teenage girl and her friends through the trials & tribulations of high school. My plan is to create four books, one for each year of high school. I’ve even thought about putting out some books post-high school during the college years.
Now, I’ve been working on this novel since 2008 – that’s 10 years! Over the course of those years, I’ve made so many plot adjustments, character changes, etc. It’s like I’m always thinking of something different, something better to try.
Making Necessary Changes
Many of these changes just needed to be done. I had too many characters that would have been confusing. There were plot ideas that were a bit too jumbled and unnecessary. I made cuts with the reader in mind to make the series easier to follow.
If I were to put in all the ideas I’ve had over the years, no one but me would understand it.
Right now, I’m at a point where I’m completely starting over. I had already done a complete re-do of the series, making some major changes and really honing in on my ideas. But, unfortunately, the revamping initiative was a victim of my computer crashing.
So, back to the drawing board.
A Lot Has Changed In 10 Years
As I mentioned, when I first began writing this series, it was 2008. I had graduated high school just two years prior. So, I had a pretty solid understanding of current trends in teenagers at the time. I didn’t feel too off-base with my target audience.
Fast forward to ten years later and a lot has changed! Sure, the basic growing up of teen-dom is the same. You’ll always have fights with friends, break-ups, drama with sports & activities, the pressure of school work, etc.
But, the form of communication and the role that plays in the life of teens today? Completely different.
When Did This Take Place?
I’ve been asking myself lately what I should do about when my series takes place. I do have a pretty solid understanding on how social media works with teens today. After all, social media is my job. Plus, I have two step-children. While they’re not teens yet, I still can see the basics of how important devices are in their lives.
The thing is: if I were to restart my series and set the story into the now period, how long would what I write be relevant? After all, it’s been 10 years and I haven’t come close to being published.
What if I set the time period to now and by the time my book is published, it becomes obsolete?
So, I had an idea: why not set my story in the early 2000’s, when I was a teen myself?
It may sound crazy, but I really think I’m on to something here.
Setting this in a specific time period ensures that no matter when I publish, it will still make sense for the time. Plus, I always hear about how writers should write what they know. Well, I lived high school in the early 2000’s. I know.
It seems that many teens today are getting into TV shows from the 90’s and early 2000’s thanks to the beauty of streaming. I can give you a huge for instance: One Tree Hill.
The Influence of One Tree Hill
This novel was hugely inspired by OTH. Many of the ideas I came up with were sprouted from this show. It was (and still is) my favorite TV show, especially during high school. I was growing up with them. It was amazing!
This TV show has actually helped me connect with teens today. For two years, I ran an anonymous OTH Instagram account. I posted edits from the show and connected with other OTH fans. Now, there was a pretty big fandom for OTH and I found that a huge majority of these accounts were ran by tween and teen girls.
Furthermore, I attended two OTH conventions over the last few years. I would say a solid 75% of the attendees to these events were today’s teenagers. Most of these girls (and some guys) probably were in diapers when OTH came out.
Despite the gap in time and the clear differences between the early 2000’s and now, so many of these young girls were identifying with the characters on this show.
So, if my demographic already associates with content similar to that of my book, I’d say it’s pretty likely they would read a book set in that time period and identify with similar characters.
My Ultimate Decision
The more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards setting the time period to the early 2000’s. All around, I think it will work out best for me!
Let me know your thoughts!
Would it be smarter to set the book in the early 2000’s or in the present day?