1. DeadIIIRed
    Offline

    DeadIIIRed New Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Writing from the Perspective of a Child

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DeadIIIRed, May 22, 2011.

    I'm trying to write a story from the perspective of a child and it's much harder than I thought it would be. It's been very restrictive on my use of adjectives and I can't describe any scene or situation as vividly as I'd like. Does anybody have any advice as to how I can write a coherent story like this without losing the attention of an adult audience?
     
  2. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,056
    Likes Received:
    5,259
    Location:
    California, US
    Step back a little in your point of view. If you draw back to a more detached POV, while still using the child as the POV character, you will be able to provide more detail as the author of the story. Even though the story is unfolding through the eyes of the child, and you are using the child as a filter for events, I don't think you have to be so tightly within the child's POV that you are limited by a child's vocabulary, etc.
     
  3. The-Joker
    Offline

    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Messages:
    742
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Africa
    Out of curiousity what type of book are you writing from a child's perspective that is intended for adult fiction and not YA or middlegrade?
     
  4. mootz
    Offline

    mootz Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2010
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Homestuck
    Children are really pretty complex so emotion and intelligent points can be made through their eyes imo. The trick becomes the vocabulary as you have pointed out. My suggestion is a thesaurus because most complex words have a simpler form.

    Also kids see things vividly, perhaps more so than adults. You just have to take the characters age and mindset into account and be descriptive in ways that are complex but also important and understandable to a child.

    I know as I child I had wild theories about relationships and observed them frequently because I couldnt understand sacrifice for another person because I thought it made you weaker. Of course thats vulnerability but as a young man it was weakness in my eyes. Its all about the angle you tackle the issues that makes it believable .
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    ditto joker's question... and how old is the child?
     
  6. zawmbee
    Offline

    zawmbee New Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Short sentences. Less and simple punctuation. Simple wording.
     
  7. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Anytime a writer is overly hung up on language, it means they're missing the big picture. Your job as the writer isn't to write as a child would, but simply represent the perspective of your MC, whether a child or otherwise. And sure, your prose shouldn't be filled with 'big' words, as that can then become distracting and contrived if they differ too much from the MC's 'voice,' but you do have some leeway. Again, you only have to bring about the experience of a child, if your MC is one, not the literal translation or confine yourself strictly to their vocabulary.

    Concentrate on understanding and delivering the experience of a child, their thoughts and feelings and motivations, the kinds of things they'd see and notice and think where interesting and funny, and if you manage to do that and keep your prose reasonable I don't think it will be a problem if the prose is at times a bit more mature or sophisticated, because in theory the reader is what effects the language is bringing about, not the language itself.
     
  8. DeadIIIRed
    Offline

    DeadIIIRed New Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    mammamaia, Joker,
    It's basically a story of losing touch with your inner-child. The child ages from 7-9 then it jumps to his 30's near the end. I'm also trying to stay away from flashbacks as much as possible.
    It's not solely intended as adult fiction, I just think that adults will relate more with looking back on their childhood.
     
  9. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    When you're writing for adults from a child's perspective, things get pretty complicated because you need to write in such a way that both the adult's and child's perspectives coincide; there should be points in the story where the child is experiencing something that they do not fully understand, but an adult reader can, for instance. That way, you deliver a convincing narrative from a child's view, but offer a greater depth for your adult readers.

    Whether you're writing in first person or third will affect how rigorous you need to be in adopting a child-like voice in terms of actual diction, but as popsicledeath points out, what will really make it convincing is evoking a child's experience of the world rather than just an adult experience expressed in children's language. But again, remember that your novel will be more successful with adults if you find ways to offer a greater depth that can be extrapolated and understood by adult readers.
     
  10. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    All the advice that has been given so far has been very good, but I'd just like to mention don't discount the intelligence of a child that age. I have a 10 year old that has a larger vocabulary (and understands what he's saying) than most adults. Not all children talk like "children" or view things as most children will. I would think it's more dependent upon how well you've developed the character and why he/she has the perspective that they do than it is to focus on the language appropriate for the age.

    EDIT: Err.. most of the advice has been good, I missed some the first time around somehow....
     
  11. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks
    I completely disagree with this. One of the reason why I really dislike young-adult fiction is that authors tend to "dumb" down their writing so that kids can understand better - as if they cannot understand something unless it is clearly pointed out to you. Even as kid, I remember staying away from most general ya because I always felt like all the books were mild and done in a way that that screamed: "you don't have the skill or brain to understand complex words or concepts."

    I felt insulted... and that is not to say that I want my books to be on a level only for adults, but something doesn't have to be "simple and short" to be relate-able to kids.

    Literary writing is often short, simple, and straight to the point. James Joyce, John Stickleback... for the most part use very simple words, but the sentence structure is complex and that is what makes their works sometimes difficult to read.

    Also kids have the biggest imagination. Things are grandeur in their minds. If they don't understand something, they'll make something up that does make sense - be it right or wrong.

    A big pet-peeve of mine is when authors baby the child reader. No one wants to be babied when reading a book and that includes children - especially children, as they're often eager to learn and have a higher active imagination than most adults.

    Anywho... I ditto arron89 and popsicledeath's advice.

    I'm working on a coming of age novel meant for adults but a very large part focuses on my MC's childhood years and requires me to to tell the story from a child's perspective.

    What I have found is by focusing on the story itself, the internal struggles, the words naturally fit around it. My story is also told from an old age perspective... and having the child perspective contrasted with how the old-age perspective views that same scene really helped me get more in tuned with my child-voice and feelings. Also, creating the setting and knowing the time-period made it easier for me as far as creating a distinct dialect and how shape my MC according to the time period. A child growing up in the 1940's versus a child growing up in 2000's will be different in some ways.

    The POV in which you tell your story matters and makes much of a difference. When I first started writing, I wrote the first eight chapters in first person and in third person to see which one fitted better. It was a lot of work... and the chapters were dramatically different in the different POV's and told a different story. The one with the biggest impact was my first person and so that I what I continued with.

    Also read, read, read, read. Tis the only way. Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes takes you from a child's perspective of three years old to the teenage years and you can see how the voice changes as the child grows older.
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There's a big difference between writing for a child and writing with a child's voice.

    Short simple sentences are a good idea for the youngest readers, who are still struggling recognizing words and basic sentence structure. But their vocabulary grows much faster than you would ever expect.

    Writing in a child's voice requires you spend some serious time listening to children in the age group you are writing about. Furthermore, they speak differently with their peers than with adults, and still differently to their pets. Also notice that their speech is generally rich with visual and auditor imagery, some of which may well be based on misunderstood words.
     

Share This Page