Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Before I actually start talking about today’s subject, I have to say that I find the word “snark” really odd looking. It’s like sound you make when you’re blowing your nose.

I…I think weird thoughts sometimes.

Anyway, snark. In particular, snarky characters. In even more particular, snarky teenage protagonists. Although I can’t think of any off hand, I’ve heard this is a common trait for YA main characters and it’s both overdone and uninteresting. This of course ties my insides into a knot because I have a snarky MC.

I can understand why people might be turned off by yet another sarcastic MC, especially in the first person point of view. The thought is that the snarky voice is used so much because it’s an easy way to sound like a teenager when in reality you’re in your thirties and have three children under the age of eight.

But for me, it wasn’t about trying to sound like a teenager. My character’s sarcastic because, as anyone who has read any of my blog posts knows, I’msarcastic. Shades of snark show up in all my characters, especially my main characters, and not just the YA ones either. For me, part of crafting voice is using my own way of talking and thinking, which in my head is ninety percent complaining and making fun of stuff. And if I changed the snark in COLLAPSE, for example, I think it might lose something.

Is that true? I’m not sure, but it definitely merits thinking over. And yes, I’m going to finish with some questions. What do you think of the sarcastic teenage voice? Do any of you have examples of snarky main characters in fiction (YA or not)?


  1. I like the word snark.
    I'm more snarky than any of my characters, although my main character does show it from time to time.

  2. Since I spend my work days with teenagers (some snarky ones, for sure), I know that snarky voice. I kinda like it. Maybe it's like you intimated - I employ sarcasm a lot. I like the voice. I will say, in real life, I use it with discretion. I know it can tumble a kid who is't sure of him/herself.
    As for stories, my favorite books are ones told in the first person. There's something about that voice that strongly appeals to me. She doesn't have a snarky voice (more of a wise but confused 13 year old voice) but the narrator of Tell The Wolves I'm Home (Carol Rifka Brunt) has become one of my favorite teen voices. I don't think the book is YA though.

  3. Being snarky and being sarcastic are not the same thing, although I do realize it is a common misperception. Snarky is what you would call the boss who never has anything positive to say about anyone's work. Most teenagers are not actually snarky except in the third person, so to speak. They will be critical of adults, for instance, when speaking with each other, but, usually, will not direct that at an actual adult. And the ones that do... well... there are perspectives to these things, I'm sure.

    I can't think of a single book I've read with that kind of character in it, at any rate, and the stuff that most people call "snarky" usually isn't.

    1. Agreed. Snarky and sarcastic are definitely different. Snarky has a touch of arrogance - or perhaps maybe a truck load of arrogance.

  4. Paranormalcy had a snarky voice and probably began the trend, or at least was at the beginning of the trend.

    A snarky voice is fine as long as it's done carefully, with a certain sensitivity, if that makes sense. ie, the character still has to be likeable. It can't be snarky for snarky sake either. It has to match the character. Not easy to pull off, but from the sound of it, you're going about it the right way.

  5. Sounds like you're at the self-doubt stage of editing. This is the time when you find all the things out in the world that seem to be exactly like your book. You feel trite. You feel like a hack. Everything feels wrong.


    Your character is snarky for a reason. You chose to write the book this way for a reason. Now that this is done, you no longer have that voice (that muse) leading the way, telling you you're doing it right. Now you're left to your own self talk, and self talk can be damaging.

    It's good. You know it's good. Trust your writing self. The evil self doubt voice will go away when you stop giving it power.

  6. I don't mind snark. I believe it makes for interesting characters and situations. I do believe those characters should show their softer side and go through changes like anyone else.

  7. I like snark. I like sarcasm. I like characters who are both. And I like your main character.

  8. I'm snarky and sarcastic, and of course that transfers over to my characters.

    I think being snarky was one of the reasons my idiot ex brother in law disliked me so much.


Please validate me.