1. NateSean

    NateSean Active Member

    Mar 20, 2011
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    Bennington, VT

    How To Write Kids

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by NateSean, Jul 27, 2011.

    Let me be very clear. I'm not asking about how to write for kids. I'm asking how to write kids period. Or more specifically, how do you try to portray kids.

    It doesn't matter what place they are in your story. MC, supporting, whatever. Any age group, etc.

    It just occurred to me recently that even when I was fourteen and writing my little novels, I didn't have any more of a clue on how to write my own age group than I do now that I'm twice that age.

    I've seen different writers approach it differently. So, I'd just like some other perspectives.
  2. Drekey

    Drekey New Member

    Jul 27, 2011
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    I'm writing a kid right now and I'm having a blast since he is a little on the "full of attitude" type.

    When I write him I always remember 3 or 4 things

    Children have a very peculiar way of understanding respect and hierarchies.
    Children like to push boundaries just because they're curious and need to know how far does the rope stretch.
    Children are very Innocent to most of our complicated relationships and problems which give for some wonderful simplistic insight.
    Children are sometimes, and with no notion of it what so ever, brutally honest.
    And then there's the details you can find in the Piaget's theory of phases.

    Now of course this is for small children, in my case I'm writing a 8 year old.

    For a teenager I would say they loose most of that and start having some other, sort of opposite, traits. Like:

    Teens have the deep belief that they know everything, even not knowing a lot.
    Teens are very selfish and shallow since they are now initiating the mating process.
    Teens are not innocent at all.

    These are, of course, rough stereotypes and you can put in there your characters personality.

    These are my thougths on the issue and I hope I don't sound too conceived by presenting them.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Jun 27, 2010
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    Tampa Bay
    Don't make them too overly stereotypical. If you do, whether it's a teen or a kid, it'll be cringeworthy.

    Most teenage girls do not actually spend all their time talking about how "cute" their favorite actor is while saying "like, totally" all the time and wanting to go to the mall. Sure, when my friends and I were in high school we'd make a comment if someone was hot, but it was in passing, not the bulk of entire conversations. And bad dialogue is an automatic killer.

    Just treat them like regular people who happen to have different lifestyles - school instead of work, different tastes, more spontaneous and curious etc, but the same level of intelligence. Don't put too much emphasis on the fact that they're a kid, because if you do, it might come across as extremely condescending.
  4. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Again, there is no substitute for observation.
  5. Show

    Show Contributor Contributor

    Jul 25, 2008
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    Here's the rule I remember: Treat them like INDIVIDUALS! Don't try to write a CHILD, write a CHARACTER, who happens to be young in age.

    You do have to take some things into consideration as to the limitations of what a child of a particular age would be capable of. But often times, people write children as total cliches and they come off as either prodigies who are smarter than their adult counterparts, cute window decorations with no real personality or purpose, or total, disrespectful brats. Most kids are not likely to fall into this.

    I write a lot of child characters. And all I try to remember is that these kids are their own original people. Do you go around thinking "how am I going to write an adult character?" I doubt it, because the idea is just a vague notion. Children are not some robotic people who got a set of rules as to how they'd behave. Get to know every child character as an individual just like you would an adult character. If you write for them as people, then IMO, it'll come more naturally.
    2 people like this.

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