1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    When should my girl character stop playing with dolls?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Nov 6, 2010.

    It's not character development per se, it's also wanting to make sure I have the age right.

    The character in question is Gina Copper, cousin of Heridon Copper (detective of my mystery stories). She goes to a school for the deaf and blind (She's deaf). In the first mystery, there's this little event in her school library about Charles Dickens and the book Oliver Twist. In the event, there are small Oliver Twist dolls the children can get and Samantha gets one for winning a contest.

    Basically, how old is too old for Samantha to recieve an Oliver Twist doll? How old would she be to stop playing with said doll?

    In fact, how old would she have to be to read Oliver Twist* yet young enough to get the doll and treat it like it's a sentinent object? (IE, saying things like "Don't squish Oliver!" if Heridon's about to put his backpack right on top of it.)

    * I don't mean the full length version. I mean a cut-down, abridged version for children.

    NOTE: The school she goes to accepts children from ages four to eleven.
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've known a fair few precocious people who'd read Dickens before they were 10, though maybe not exactly grasping all the details. :p As far dolls, I'm not really one to talk, since I still have a few stuffed toys I lug around and worry if they get crushed in my bag or whatever, but I think around 9-10 would be the upper limits of that, if they're a big softie... After that age, even if they care, they wouldn't make a show of it in front of other people. :p
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Think Jane Eyre at nine reading everything she could get her hands on. I am guessing your books are still historical?
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    This is a different mystery series I'm working on. I've got this and another one running (potentially three since I love the 18th and 19th centuries. XD). This one is set in modern times. 2000s-up.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok well many little girls in the UK know about Oliver from the musical thanks to a BBC TV Show - my daughter is seven knows the story because of it. There is also the film etc There are children's books of the story. I'd say no older than nine for dolls these days girls seem to grow up so fast.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    where is it set and what's the child's background/life situation?... that could make a difference...

    for instance, in some countries/areas, children are kept 'children' longer than in others... and if she's an only child, she'd be more prone to need a doll for companionship, etc....

    it's really just up to you and your character, since there's no standard 'norm' for when girls stop playing with dolls... and this doesn't seem to be the baby doll or barbie type that a child would normally play with anyway...

    first of all, if reading 'the full deal' dickens and not a kiddy version, she'd be too old for dolls in any case, i should think... but to have it as a 'collectible' might make sense... to view it as a younger girl would a baby doll or barbie makes little sense, however, unless the girl is mentally/developmentally challenged...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Some girls continue to play with dolls into adulthood. They call it a hobby then. :)
     
  8. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    About 9-10 is probably the oldest a girl will be before she stops playing with dolls (publicly at least!) If she's away at a boarding school she would probably be more likely to keep dolls longer.

    Though I do have a friend with a doll collection (I think it's more her mom's collection than my friend's, but still) so if your character is someone who collects dolls she would be happy with one at any age.
     
  9. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I call it "collecting" them. ;)

    My little sister played with dolls until she was like 12-13, but I think my family might be a special case...
     
  10. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Playing? I suppose like the others said, 10ish. I guess the first thing I thought about is that it isn't a matter of 'stopping' per se in as much as the doll could, and maybe should transition from a toy for play in to a keepsake that the character refers (emotionally) back to. Like people who base their life on a memory of the best time of their life, if the doll has symbolic meaning, then the doll should carry through as a part of the character's development just transition from a toy.
     
  11. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Talking about baby dolls I would say the average child would loose interest at 7-8 yrs.
    Talking about character dolls (which you mention) there is no age limit. I'm thinking doll's house enthusiasts here.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that it sort of depends on the definition of "playing". If we're talking about "Let's pretend that Ken and GI Joe are two of the Ghostbusters and Barbie is Gozer and your panda bear can be the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man," or a lone child walking a doll around speaking their lines for them, then probably about seven. But puttering around with doll hair and clothes could go a few years longer and possibly forever, and so could playing with dollhouses. And a child could easily say, "Don't squash Barbie!" long after the child stops being fuzzy about whether Barbie is a sentient being or not.

    Come to think of it, it's probably similar to the age at which boys stop walking their action figures around and making plots and sound effects for them, too.

    ChickenFreak
     
  13. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Interesting.

    So I guess Gina Copper would have to be around ten.

    This got me intrigued. What would have to happen to Gina in order for her to emotionally refer to the Oliver Twist doll?

    I wonder what the doll cound symbolize that would make her have some character development?
     
  14. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    I think the answer is in the post you originally wrote. The doll was procured by a contest win. It would seem to me someone fighting with a perceived disadvantage, such as hearing loss, the win would likely have a great sentimental effect (memory) for her.

    People hold on to those events much more that we often think. I remember in college, there was a guy during his freshman year that introduced himself as (I can't actually member the name/school...): 'Hi, I'm Joe. I was starting end for Somewhereville football. We were Conference 10 champions.' Truly no one cared, least of all me, but it was that important and defining for him in his life.

    The point is, depending the arch of the character's development. Is it a touchpoint for the character where it is referred back to as a defining moment that taught the character to overcome adversity? Is it a moment that the character can never live up to and is buried by and, in her mind, drives the inability to be successful again?

    The key is that the character refers back to that doll as pivotal simply because of that success of winning.

    Just a thought or two. Might not fit in to what your character is going to develop as but food for thought nonetheless.
     
  15. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In a normal school class people sometimes say that the mental age of the class normally range +-2 years.

    So I would say that in modern wester culture most girls stop play role games with dolls at 9+-2 years and babydolls 7 +-2 years (if they playes with dolls at all).
     
  16. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Since the prize is a doll it has been decided that her age group warrants receiving it. It's Samantha's decision to play with it, use it as a lucky charm, or tuck it in a keepsake box, which would be determined by the "character" you have written her to be.
     
  17. Noya Desherbanté
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    Noya Desherbanté Senior Member

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    I would say 10ish, although it depends completely on your character. A sympathetic girl character could be written who plays with dolls (or has one hidden in her backpack) into her twenties, or, like Roald Dahl's Matilda, devoured Dickens when she was eight or nine... :) It's a very feminine thing to keep a doll, so you could use that fact to ass another dimension to a tomboyish teen?
     

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