1. CelesteMwilson
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    CelesteMwilson New Member

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    Writing from a child's perspective

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CelesteMwilson, Apr 26, 2010.

    Are there any important points that I need to keep in mind when writing a book whose target audience is directed at those under the age of 16? Should I interview a range of kids and get there perspectives or can I write from my own experiences when at that age?
     
  2. Rajikai
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    Rajikai Member

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    Well everyone has different minds at that age, since some are going through puberty; some have already undergone, or haven't reached that stage yet. So what seems as common sense to you might be a difficult thing for others to comprehend. Also as we get older, what we learn blends with our past, and it's hard to tell how we thought at that period, because usually we reflect upon our actions after it occurs.

    So in my opinion, I think it would be better to get insight into the mind of those teenagers, and not just one gender, but both. After doing so, you should consider the information you got, and blend it in with your own experiences, and create your work. After so, you could show it to other random teenager (new ones would be better), and see if they understand it. Don’t underestimate teenagers, they can comprehend more than you would expect, but still, don’t overestimate them.

    But as I said, everyone is different, and this is just a personal opinion. Plus, like me, I wouldn’t have access to that much teenagers (Well, I do, just ask my sister to show it to her friends), and you could skip the first step and just write your work from your memory, and show it to other teenagers (if you want). Whatever you do is up to you. Everyone has they own methods.
     
  3. runaway_lighthouse
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    runaway_lighthouse Member

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    Rather than interviewing kids, I think it could be more productive to just talk to a few. Go buy a drumstick when your neighborhood ice cream truck rolls around this summer, and strike up a conversation with a kid in your target age range. Pay attention to their attention spans, what interests them, their tendencies toward nonsequiturs, etc.

    In my experience, it's difficult to hold their focus for long periods of time. Make sure what you're writing is fast-paced, and very visual. Don't get bogged down in adjectives and adverbs, because where an older reader can slog through intense description and keep on reading, a young reader is less likely to do so. Include many scenes that you think will hold their interest (think Harry Potter in Diagon Alley for the first time). Less scenes of introspection, and more of dialogue/action sequences, for the same reason. If the kids are young enough, they'll enjoy things like funny-sounding words or names, onomatopoeia, and a joke here and there. Consider working into your writing things like assonance and alliteration (but be subtle about it), to make the words fun to read.

    Above all, though, try to remember that kids are often smarter than we give them credit for. Just be creative, and get into the mind of a kid from a kid's perspective! Have fun with this; I hope it works out!
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You also need to narrow down your audience age range more. "Under the age of sixteen" covers several distinct brackets of reading ability.
     
  5. black-radish
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    black-radish Senior Member

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    Are you tallking 14-16 , 12-14, 10-12, or below 9 ?
    This greatly effects the tone of your book :)

    ~ Lola
     
  6. Rajikai
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    Rajikai Member

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    personally I thought he was referring to teenagers (13-16) which is what my answer is based upon. I also agree with what the three are saying, of course, I know you don't want to write a Doctor Seuss type of book (ages 3-7 (Cat in The Hat)) so it's safe to conclude he want to reach a higher level in the audience. That's how I concluded what he said.

    But Back to topic. If I was in fact wrong, I would like to add, It's good to experiment with different ways, and see what suits you. For me, I just write from nothing, while other write from something (which is like you) so I would appreciate you use my advice however you'd like. (though I would say runaway_lighthouse advice is better than mines)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first, narrow the range, as cog said...

    better than that would be to read/study the best-selling novels targeting the range you want to write for...
     
  8. CelesteMwilson
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    CelesteMwilson New Member

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    hi, i am looking at the 13-16 range. I realise now that my teenage experiences might be a bit too controversial for most kids that age as mine was quite risky as the friends that i had were a lot older than me and therefore i was exposed to a lot of adult behaviour that i perhaps should not have been privy to. i will use what you all have shared with me and try to find a new perspective.
    Thanks
     
  9. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have to ask this question, I fear you haven't read much (or any?) literature aimed at your target audience. Unless you're writing non-fiction, "interviewing" kids is not the way to go. You need to read a lot of books in the genre and age group you want to write for. And "under the age of 16" means you're either writing for juvenile, middle school, or young high school audience. That's a wide range right there! Too wide. Narrow it down. Or better yet, focus on the tale you want to tell, figure out who the readership would be, then go and read a ton of books in that category.

    Good luck!
     
  10. black-radish
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    black-radish Senior Member

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    You can still write a book about a teen who has been through a lot, but change the age range. Just because you are writing about a teen doesn't mean the book has to be for teens. :) And there's nothing wrong with controversial :)

    Good luck!

    ~ Lola :D
     
  11. Robyn
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    Robyn Member

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    If anything, just sit around in the mall or a park, or anywhere the kids in your town hang out, and just pay attention to how they act and how they talk to each other and adults.
     
  12. Gingerbiscuit
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    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

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    There are whole TV channels dedicated to children that age. If it was me I'd watch and have a look at the sort of thing that they're interested in.

    It's a really tricky age group though because kids that age can tell if you try to speak their language but don't know it that well and they will respond poorly. Watching Kids TV will give you a reasonable insight into what makes them tick.
     
  13. CelesteMwilson
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    CelesteMwilson New Member

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    Thanks, noted!
     
  14. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Pick up some books that are popular with children in that age range and read them. Try to pick something that is similar to what you want to write. If you want to write a ghost story, pick a ghost story. If you want to write a heartwarming tale of a boy and his dog, pick one of those. "Read what you want to write" is good advice. Obviously, though, when you get to writing, make your writing your own. Reading will help you pick up the tone, vocabulary, etc. for the age group.

    The only other advice that I'd give is, assume that the kids are intelligent. If they think you're writing down to them, they won't want to read your book. You don't want to use vocabulary or culture references beyond their years, but you don't want to spell everything out for them either.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    In addition to the relatively modern and popular books, I'd suggest reading some of the ones that are a few decades old and have achieved something closer to modern-classic status.

    I just bought myself a Batch O Children's Books - The Mousewife by Rumer Godden, The Changeling and The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, The Midnight Folk by John Masefield, and some others. Most are old favorites, one I've never read, and I expect to enjoy them all thoroughly, even if I am an adult. Those particular examples are for children a bit younger than your target audience, but that level of quality is the kind of children's book that I'd want to write, if I thought that I could write children's books.

    ChickenFreak
     
  16. satxer
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    satxer New Member

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    God forbid you write about controversial topics. We wouldn't want young people to be exposed to any novel or adult concepts or themes, now would we?
     
  17. breakingwave
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    breakingwave Member

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    My advice having been around various ages of kids all my life, working with them in schools, raising them and just enjoying them, is to keep it simple. Not to talk down to them even through characters, and and one major ingredient that they demand is to be fair. Kids learn though actions so show them what you want them to know through your characters actions.

    Added: my boys favorite book which they read over and over again is the Outsiders, their Dad shared it with them that was his favorite book as well.
     

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