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Lighten Up! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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A quick survey of the work on TeenInk.com leaves me feeling down. How melancholy teen writers are. Page after page of angst-filled, angry, whiny drivel! The day I wrote this, for example, the most popular unpublished fiction piece was about a boy whose father had died. The story was ­decent, but this kind of writing is incredibly common. What are your lives like? What causes these teen writers to craft so many stories about depressing subjects like prostitution, murder, and rape?

Whatever happened to the short story writers of the Strand Magazine (to which Arthur Conan Doyle contributed his tales) or the essayists who wrote about dogs, smoking, and the cakes that their wives made? (Humorist James Thurber wrote about all those things. Good stuff.)

Have teen writers simply not read much comedy? If not, then I recommend Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, James Thurber, George Bernard Shaw, David Sedaris, Stephen Fry, E.B. White (who was well-known for his light-hearted ­essays before he became a children's author), Eric Newby, David Mitchell, Peter Cook, Al Franken, Douglas Adams, Mark Twain (he wrote more than Tom Sawyer), and Rowan Atkinson.

Or must we attribute this dismal trend to that old bastard, teen angst? Do these writers just have so many feelings that they can barely contain themselves and must vomit them onto paper, lest they pop? If that is the case (and I think it must be), then for heaven's sake, mix it up! I say this as much for my sake as a reader as for yours as a writer. Don't spend all of your lovely, fluffy, and ultimately endearing energies ­writing about how messed up the world is or how few people understand you. Write something about “Gordito: The Crime Solving Dog,” or “The Time I Ate Thirty-Nine Pies.” Such stories are bound to tickle at least a few humor glands.

Now, I am not saying that angst has no place in writing. Of course it does, especially on a site like TeenInk.com. Indeed, angst is a feeling as legitimate as any other. But it is not, as many of you think, a personal pain. Have you read Catcher in the Rye? You probably enjoyed it because it's incredibly easy to relate to the main character. The reason is that Holden Caulfield experiences what every single adolescent does: angst.

I certainly experience angst. Occasionally, I feel down, friendless, and rejected. What do I do when in these funks? I read something by one of the aforementioned authors. Then I suddenly remember that the world is a pretty entertaining place and, regardless of its reason for being, life is pretty all right. And I feel the same feelings but amplified when I write anything humorous.

Not that writing humor is easy, mind you. Oscar Wilde and George Orwell agreed that humor is the most difficult of all prose. But it is also often the most accurate and powerful.

Now, please, write something funny. I really want to read it.

Editor's note: If you too are looking for a laugh, check out the fiction starting on Page 31.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 44 comments. Post your own!

talhaakThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 10:44 am:
Your absolutely right. In fact, I myself was thinking of a sad-ish story to write but your article has inspired me to write something lighter. Keep up the good work man.
 
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erinw--Jovin said...
Apr. 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm:
LOVE this article! I didn't even fully realize how negative most articles are until you mentioned it. thank you for posting this i think it was definitely needed!
 
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Missy312 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 2:22 am:

Yesssssssss, light-hearted writing. Better yet, Oscar Wilde because he's Oscar Wilde. 

Anyone looking for a humorous work -- Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is fantastic, ridiculously funny, and just plain fun!

 
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RumMonkey said...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 6:41 am:
Well I'm glad that you are able to lead a happy, non-melancholic life, not every other writer here is as fortunate to be as carefree as you are. I'm not saying that every writer here has had a really horrible life, but how can one write a humorous article just so other writers won't feel sad? I write melancholic, depressing work, yes, but it is realistic. And maybe it is this genre of work that is often top-rated because everybody does go through a rough patch in their lives, but not everybody... (more »)
 
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Fate98 said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm:
You are one of the most motavaiting, uplifting writers on this. Your so right. i could be writting about so many things that have nothing to do with upsetting subjects you read about. And i will write about those funny, weird and random things :-)
 
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Tobias said...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 5:51 am:
Sorry, ingore the last part, I think I might have srolled down and saw one of your conversations lol, sorry, I'm stupid sometimes.
 
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Tobias said...
Feb. 4, 2011 at 5:48 am:

This article is good, well writen and honestly I think I waiting for one to come around, one that's like this. Personally I write drama most of the time, only because for me it's easier, but I've been looking for some kind of pep talk to get me to write a humor article. And you my friend did the trick.

P.S. I like the point you made about how comedy prospered alot in the forties, fifties and sixties war time.

 
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alicen1ndrland said...
Jan. 16, 2011 at 10:23 am:
The reason that I personally post mostly "melancholy" stuff is that I write to channel and alleviate emotions. Though I write happy stuff too, rarely is it as personal, emotional, or good as the things I write when my emotions are more intense. Who wants to publish anything but their best work? Of course I only speak for myself. But I feel like some of the teens who write might possibly feel the same way.
 
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cyanidesun said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm:
I wouldn't say that a serious or dark type of article on Teenink is directly attributed to "teenage angst", it's simply that sadness or fear is naturally a human's most potent emotion and like you said, true humor is far more difficult to write. The reality is that very few people would ever desire to read  “Gordito: The Crime Solving Dog,” or “The Time I Ate Thirty-Nine Pies.” because as I'm sure you've noticed, the most celebrated novels are popular for the emotion... (more »)
 
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black-sapphire said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 7:18 pm:
i dont quite agree..everyone expresses themselves differently, and the emotions that come through with their writing are different all through out. Sure, there may be some pretty deep stuff on here but theres also light stuff...maybe your not looking in the right places? Besides the darker stuff usually gets people thinking, and ive noticed that a lot of writers think so they need to read stuff that gives them thoughts...i dont know, thats just my opinion..
 
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DawnMarie said...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm:
Not all of the stories on here are depressing, though the majority might be. Writers just like to write about what's going on in the world around them, and well, the world isn't too comedy-filled right now, hate to break it to you. But it's true. 
 
A.Deich replied...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm :

I'm not asking why there are so many sad things being written; that is a complicated answer.  The above article says that given a sea of sad stuff, we are more than ever indebted to write uplifting stuff.

And don't think that what you've said gives writers an excuse to write depressingly, either!  Comedy prospered in the height of war in the forties, sixties, or seventies, and I see no reason it can't prosper today.

 
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MMartin said...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm:
The only reason people write the way they do is because most people find it more interesting to read about dramatic pain and suffering then a comedian pulling a prank.
 
A.Deich replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm :

To wade through the swamp of inaccuracies you just posted would require an idiot stick a good deal longer than mine.

How can you say that? First of all, on what grounds can you possibly make a claim like "most people find it more interesting..."? Second, what sort of infantile fallacy is it to call all of comedy, which can be a high and noble art, merely a "comedian pulling a prank"?

 
MMartin replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm :
Do you think that something dramatic is more interesting than something funny???
 
A.Deich replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 7:12 pm :
That question is too generic to be meaningful.  Of course something which could be classified as "drama" can be more entertaining to read than something comical.  But it is not by virtue of its genre that it would be so.  Furthermore, why cannot the two coexist?  Indeed they can and do, and dramatic comedies can be perfectly charming, lovely and adorable.
 
MMartin replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm :
Exactly some people find it more interesting to read about drama.
 
A.Deich replied...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm :
Of course some people prefer drama.  I never said they don't.  But saying that "some [or most] people enjoy drama over comedy" is as stupid as saying some people enjoy comedy over drama.  Both are huge genres and the enjoyment of either depends entirely on the quality of the writing.  I do not mean to say in the essay above that emotional or dramatic writing is in any way inferior.
 
MMartin replied...
Nov. 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm :
No offense but I dont think comedy is as perferred as drama
 
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LexiB said...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm:
I agree! Some meloncholy writing is fine and healthy, but why fill our brains with the stuff and let ourselves become depressed? I like a combination of both, not leaning one way twoards one or the other.
 
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