A couple of weeks ago I made a post on writing teenagers, I don’t believe we’ve made a post on child characters recently. So here we go!
Child characters are different to adult characters for several reasons that are stated below. However these differences should make no difference to how you develop your character. A child character has likes and dislikes and both positive and negative traits.
Depending on the age of your child character and the life they have led, they will be more innocent to your adult characters. This does not mean they think that everything is nice and fuzzy but that they aren’t aware of a lot of the evils of the world. You have to be careful how you play innocence, for example I bet most 9/10 year old know exactly what sex is. So think carefully about how you portray this!
Children are naive, this does NOT mean stupid. They have less world experience and have no independence so they haven’t really seen everything in the world. This makes them naive to other cultures other people. How naive they are depends on their age, personality and background.
Children are more impulsive than adults. We learn through making mistakes and children are still learning (aren’t we all). So children are more likely to display impulsive behaviour. This involves saying exactly what they think. Small children of 5/6 don’t really have a dam, they just say what pops into their head.
Children aren’t stupid. In fact you can have a pretty good conversation with a small child and be surprised by what they say. But children haven’t learnt as much as adults and their knowledge grows as they do. Intelligence however isn’t just what they know but how they apply it.
Dialogue is where you are going to slip up with your child characters. This could be by making the language too mature or not mature enough. You need to know before you start writing how a child would talk, you may have to do research for this.
It’s hard to remember what we talked like when we were that age so you may need to talk to others, watch some movies with children and read books to see how other authors have portrayed characters of a similar age.
So how do I make my child character realistic?
Research!!! If you know friends or family with young children spend some time with them, see how they interact with others and take special notice to how they speak and what words they use. The wording in dialogue is the kicker in making children realistic.
Think back to when you were a child or look at family videos, how did you act around family? How did you play?
The voice is the most difficult part of any character development and finding a voice for your child character is even harder. But if you can find the right voice that suits the age of your character then that’s fantastic. Don’t be put off if you don’t get it right in the first few tries, keep trying.I look forward to seeing more children characters in your works :)
Hope this has been useful to some of you!!!