Being the editor for my school's annual literary magazine, I believe that I have a decent grasp of the teenage style of writing. I've composed the following list of guidelines for anyone hoping to emulate the writing of an American teenager.


- Your poem must focus on one of the following themes or phenomena: love, kissing, misanthropy, or (most popular of all) angst.

- Make sure to use unoriginal and basic imagery. Remember, a kindergartener might want to read what you have written; make sure that nothing you write will confuse them.

- Don't stick to just one idea or theme. Change somewhere in the middle of your poem to something unrelated. For example, if your poem is about regret, spend a few stanzas talking about breathing.


- Don't think that just because this section is entitled "diction" that you need to actually use a dictionary. After all, if you spell everything correctly, how is it art?

- Words of more than three syllables are forbidden.

- All rhymes must be single-syllable rhymes- preferably, single-syllable words. A good pair of lines might be "I got in my car / So then I decided to go and drive really far".

- If you have any vaguely perceptable rhythm (like, say, if you're in English class and you're supposed to write a sonnet), make sure that you choose words in such a way that you often place the ac-cents' on the wrong syl-la'-bles.

- Their, They're, and There are completely interchangeable.

- Use illogical words. If you are writing about a flower that is smoothly releasing a scent, you should use the wording "constantly releasing it's scent".

Forming The Line

- Absolutely do not keep a consistent rhythm. Have three or four lines flow together. Then, add a ridiculously long and tangled line that is so confusing that it will make the reader pause in order to insert a blade into his own abdomen.

- Make sure that you often switch the SVO order (Write like Yoda you will) and/or put infinitive phrases in random places (e.g. "I climbed the mountain a new sight to see")

- Make sure that no two stanzas have the same number of lines.


- Commas are evil. As often as you can, omit them. Do this to such a degree that the poor sap reading your poem will need to compulsively mark in at least a dozen commas.

- Use four or five lines setting up the subject of a sentence... then play a trick on your reader by having no predicate. Hahaha! Look at them get confused and re-read it, trying to find that missing verb! Except it doesn't exist! HAHAHAHA!

- The possessive form of "it" is "it's".

- Contractions do not require apostrophes. Apostrophes are just wasted strokes of the pen. They slow you down. Dont test the muse's patience by getting stuck in the details.

- The plural form of most nouns is denoted by an apostrophe. For example, one eats "apple's", not "apples".

- End all questions with a period. How do you do that, you ask. Well, can you do it like that. Refer to the guideline below.

- Dialogue should not be marked by quotes. In fact, it's bad form to even use a comma to distinguish spoken text from the rest of a sentence. Be direct. e.g. Why dont you love me I said.

Finishing Touches

- Use a background image. Just google-search a vaguely-related graphic and plop it on, copyright notice and all. Don't bother printing in color or making your font readable against the resulting swirls of black and grey. Art isn't supposed to be easy to understand; make it as difficult as possible for the reader. (Unless, of course, the reader is in kindergarten.)

- When you're ready to publish your masterpiece, print the poem out in a weird font. The more it looks like indecipherable middle-english chicken-scratch, the better it is. Express your personal creativity! Alternatively, you could use a font that puts every character in caps (or, better yet, use a weird font and just type with caps lock on!). Just feel how your emotions flow from that wall of capital letters! Your reader will be impressed.

The preceeding is not meant to be insulting or discouraging to teenage writers; after all, even the most articulate and gifted writers go through a similar phase of literary adolescence. There's nothing wrong with giving writing a try.

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