1. delio79

    delio79 New Member

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    Children in adult fiction

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by delio79, Sep 30, 2017.

    Hi,
    Even though I have some major things already defined in my plot, what I'm aiming to is a sort of bildungsroman, but rather than being a coming of age, my aim is to develop some characters through a set of events, essentially an adventure where the protagonists grow in a hostile world. Now my focus is not in making grow a child, or a teenager, it could even be an adult. The fact to have some younger protagonists, however, would help showing how choices make you go through different paths as you might have a longer lifespan if you start from a younger age, and you are also more vulnerable. My aim really is to target an audience of over 18 as, like exposed in another thread I wrote about violence, I'm going to be quite explicit with what happens during the story. That said, how does it fit to have child protagonists? I mean, they will surely grow up during the novel (or maybe novels), but they might stay children for quite a lot before their age gets more palatable to younger adults. Is it worth to start with them being say 8-10 years old and let them star their adventure that age? Should I let become teenagers faster? My problem is that an adult might not catch up with the feelings of a child protagonist, but a young adult might even less. Their starting age shift quite a bit how I will describe the first events and reasons of travel.

    Thanks
     
  2. delio79

    delio79 New Member

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    Ah, forgot, this might seem a question related to any kind of genre but as I'm talking about a fantasy book I'm interested also in the issue in this specific genre, thinking about what the average fantasy fiction reader expects to find in the story
     
  3. Gadock

    Gadock Member

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    What is needed for your character to be a child? How I looked at life and how I generally thought about stuff when I was 18 compared to me now at 26 is nearly entirely different. Character development is of course always necessary, and it does seem you want to take a bigger step in this. So maybe you could explain a tad bit more?

    Besides that, you don't necessarily have to write it chronologically. For example you could write the story as MC being adult, and have flashbacks to his childhood for when MC makes a big descision.

    I personally don't mind reading about children as long it's not too long. What I would mind more though is when those children grow up too quickly and have too much wisdom for their age; as they grow through the story they sometimes learn too quickly and become these fully responsible adults at 12 or know things they couldn't have learned.
     
  4. Lemie

    Lemie Active Member

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    I can only speak for myself, but if I picked up a book and the protagonist were a child I'd probably put it back. Sure, an opening chapter or flashbacks, maybe, but I can't "sympathize" with a kid, and I need to like the character on some level. I can stand right out bastards and horrible person, but there has to be something likable about them, and kids are not likable.

    If you need the aging, I'd say start them out as teens (if not adult). With a teen you have some growing space, but they're usually big enough to actually, well, do something. Anything. Adventuress books/movies with kids always just feel like bad parenting, to me.

    In the end it all comes down to what you want and what's best for the book.
     
  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't know yet how my novel will be received. So far my one beta reader likes it but it's not the genre he usually reads.

    I started out with a short chapter with my protagonist as a ten year old child. My critique group felt like it read as a prologue and that was not my intent. Right away I saw it was clear I needed to start the story in the present day. But the bullying aspect and how my character coped, shaped her and was part of the story, not just backstory to be duly noted.

    That left a dilemma, if I wrote the story chronologically, those interested in a young/new adult story might not read past the first couple of chapters. I had to start the story with the grown-up protagonist.

    I tossed the first chapter altogether and wrote both stories, the protagonist from the ages of 11 to 14, and the current story where she is 17 and her peers are 17 to 19. Then I wove the younger years in as a parallel story with chapter changes that identified the protagonist's age by the chapter title.

    You have to decide, are the younger years backstory or story? In my case they are story. I do hope YA readers find those chapters interesting, but I don't think as many would read the story if it started with an eleven year old.

    Take a look at Orphan Train as one example. The story is about a foster care teen who has a job helping an elderly woman clean out her attic. They bond and the woman tells the teen about the woman's life as an outcast orphan put on a train with others to be sent to various families across the country mostly to be cheap labor, not really sent to be adopted children. Siblings were separated, some found harsh lives others found decent lives but usually without the love of parents. The story followed the life of the old woman from a young age until adulthood. The foster-care teen and the older woman had a lot in common having been in living situations that lacked parental love.

    I loved it. Maybe I would have read the book if it started with a little girl whose parents died and she was put into the orphan system of the day. But I imagine unless the author had an established reputation it might have been harder to grow a readership.

    I loved Rabbit-Proof-Fence which was a story about Aboriginal children making their way home after being sent to a boarding school. That was a story about kids meant to be read by adults.

    Look at those examples. Maybe people have other suggested books to look at.

    Decide, are your protagonist's younger years story or backstory? Once you decide that, organizational choices depend on the story.
     
  6. The Broken Soul Project

    The Broken Soul Project Member

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    It's perfectly reasonable to write a kid as the protagonist of a novel. Look at any of Stephen King's works (I'd recommend IT if you wanna know how to write children), whether or you like his books, he writes kids in a way that adults can relate to by not sugar coating the way they speak to the audience. Kids are rude, crazy , but can have a good heart. They cuss. They talk about sex(well I mean depending on the age). So I think if you are going to make a kid the protagonist. As for making them age faster or slower, it depends on the context. Are you going for something like a sexual abuse story where the kid learns to act a lot older than they are? As long as the characters actions make sense within context and fits, anybody can become invested in what you write.
     

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