This task can sound difficult, but for me, when I wrote BOUND it was surprisingly easy. I can see how it might become hard if you have never been around children that much, but fortunately for me, this was not the case. Here are a few tips to help you create realistic children that are relatable for adults.
A child talks differently than an adult. Depending on the age, often times, their sentences are run-on, they use a lot of um’s, like’s, etc. They pause, they stutter sometimes. Now, this can be true for an adult as well, the imperfection of speaking is more prevalent in children. This can definitely be a charming quality in children, but I would encourage you not to over-do it. Any accent or stuttering or constant pausing can become annoying to the reader if used too frequently. The trick is to infuse that bit of immaturity and lack of experience into their dialogue without sounding absolutely brainless. Children are often times smarter than we give them credit for, and they also have the ability to be brutally honest. They say things that as adults, we would consider rude, but to them, is just stating the facts. There is an innocence to them, they don’t fear rebuff, they are free to express what they think because they leave experienced less rejection. Think about these things as you write their dialogue.
Point of View:
Children are more creative, their minds work differently. They will observe things that we don’t. They won’t use lofty language, and from their POV, sometimes they think in pictures. Especially since they haven’t learned all the words for everything yet. Again, all of this depends on age. For instance, they might see something that is red and compare it to an apple, or something that is purple and compare it to the stuffed animal they own. They might see a person and compare them to a cartoon character they know. They tend to pair things that they see with pictures in their mind. Use your imagination on this one and let out your inner child!
Children have large hearts, they are generally trusting, naïve, outgoing. They haven’t experienced rejection they way we have and they approach the world with an innocence and curiosity that is truly inspiring. They have inquiring minds, they are always asking questions. Show that side of them. Let them ask the questions. They don’t just ask the easy ones, they ask the hard ones too. Children’s curiosity is an awesome plot device. They ask the questions your readers want to know in a very natural way that gets the point across. Use it. Don’t shy away from it. It can be a valuable tool in story-telling.
One last thing before I go. Spend time with children. Really listen to them, be with them, do things with them. By being around them more, you will start to see some of the things I mentioned above, and you will also start to see how they process things. If you are really serious about writing a true to life child character, get to know how a child lives. You won’t regret it. Children have so much to offer if only we will let them.
I hope you found this post helpful.
By God’s Grace,