Kid-lit writers hate it. Because we’re dreamers, we want our books to be classics, the novels kids will be forced to read in 2050 and hate every minute of it. Slang gives your novel an expiration date.
Slang also sounds wrong in dialogue. Dude, it was so bomb! Snap! Boom! Whatevs. Middle-grade kids aren’t sophisticated slangers like teens. For reals. The young characters’ natural language is tricky to capture.
My nine-year-old daughter and her friends are just picking up slang, and they make a perfect writer’s study group. Their word is weird. It’s so weird. She’s weird. You’re weird. That class is weird. It’s … weird. Why is she so weird? I spent three minutes in the car with two girls and heard weird at least a dozen times. Maybe more.
The kids all want to be the same, so to them, weird actually means different. I took on the challenge. I told them weird was good. I said, Who wants to be like everyone else? I want to be interesting. I want to be myself. We should appreciate weirdness.
And they said, that’s weird.
They’re not ready to see weird as fascinating, interesting, and thought-provoking. I thought about explaining the concept to them 80s style. Stop wiggin’ out and just veg. Weird is mondo cool, totally tubular. I kid you not.
But I already knew their response.