1. tiggz
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    tiggz New Member

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    For Those Who Have Kids or Know Children Well

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by tiggz, Apr 9, 2014.

    I am writing a story where a young child grows up through a series of stressful situations that will happen to him.

    I am having difficulty pinpointing the age when the book starts, for those who have kids or know them well, any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    I want to find the age where they are young enough to still remember their parents and old lifestyle if they are stolen from their home, and also young enough to be a product of their current environment forever (emotionally scarred after this), yet old enough that they can problem solve and understand a little of what's going on and try little tactics to get themselves free.

    Originally I wanted them to be seven, but I don't think that's old enough to be able to make an actual plan to escape (it's a small plan, like realizing that time is moving faster than he thinks because he finds out it's been 3 weeks but it feels like only days, and he realizes that maybe there's something in the foods that's making him unconscious. That's all, and he starts to at least think about ways to escape, hasn't executed anything though) Now I am thinking maybe 10 would be appropriate, but I want them to be as young as possible.

    What is the age that your child, or children you knew well began to problem solve and form opinions of their own (ie. this is not right, I hate this man, I want to get out)- not the very, very young child mentality where they need to be protected completely.

    What age do you think would be best for this? Or is there even such an age to do this, does it need to go into preteens?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    These are different things that occur at different ages.

    If this all occurs in a relatively short timeframe, you should take a look at "Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence". The mc is 14. Younger, a child will understand what is going on. But having the wherewithal to plan an escape is another story. You could probably go as young as 10, but not much younger if the child acts in a complex way.
     
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  3. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    If you want them to be able to understand what's going on and only formulate slightly dumbass ways to escape, ten would be fine. The kid would understand they've been taken from home ages before then, but formulating even dumbass plans isn't most kiddys' forte.
     
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  4. Jak of Hearts
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    Jak of Hearts Member

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    Realistically, if the child has to escape an adult he would probably need to be 14 at the minimum, iI'd even say 16. children aren't that smart. They tend to think illogical and unrealisTically until they are teenagers. Now if its a children's book you can get away With a lot younger because kids reading it won't find it unrealistic that they are outsmarting adults.
     
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  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whenever you're writing a child protagonist, he/she always has to be almost a prodigy -- particularly smart and mature for the age. Otherwise it doesn't work. As others have said, certainly no younger than 10, and even that is stretching it. My older son is almost 10, and when we're watching movies or news stories or something, the ideas he comes up with wouldn't go very far in the real world. A teen is better, but if you're trying to play up other aspects of the MC being a child, that brings other issues.
     
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  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have 7 children, 19 grandchildren and 2 great-grands [so far]...

    more info is needed before valid answers can be provided...

    is this a book for children? [what age range?]
    for the YA market? [lower or upper half?]
    for the adult market?

    is story being told in first person, or third?

    past tense, or present?

    how much of his/her life story do you want to be told in the book?

    is it taking place in contemporary times, or in a historical period?

    where is it taking place?
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Having known a lot of foster homes & families and the kid's in them I noticed a lot of them had memories of their parents going back to practically diaper age. I think it was because they were constantly comparing their memories to their present situation.

    The age of the child for me isn't so much the issue as the child himself and the situation. If the child is being intimidated and came from a quiet home to begin with it would be harder for him to make an intelligent break. Especially if the person who took him is smart enough to suggest his parents don't want him anymore or died ( which was the case of a kidnapping in the 80's turned into a t.v. movie - I think my first name is Steven. ) Where would the child go? But if the child has gotten tough over the years, suspicious, untrusting and always had a stubborn streak than ten isn't a bad age at all. If he's seen others be calculating that would help him make the necessary steps for a clever escape. Especially with the internet the child could seek information & make some good plans. But I wouldn't make him too clever. Allow him the occasional stupid decision.
     
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  8. tiggz
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    tiggz New Member

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    Wow thanks so much everyone, this is helping immensely!
     
  9. James Joyce
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    if you want, you could try to make the child a smarter version of your child-self. that's a good basis to start.
     
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