Vision: A Resource for Writers
Holly Lisle's Vision
Are Characters Too
By Andi Ward
2002, By Andi Ward
are people. People in fiction are characters. Characters have
personalities, lives, hopes, goals, attitudes, and voices. Children certainly do
too, and theirs are often more pronounced than adults. Therefore, it seems that
children should be easy to write. After all, they don't have much
back-story--they haven't lived that long. Their emotions tend to be out there
for people to see. Children have few inhibitions about what they will say or
what they will do. They are totally unabashed, self-absorbed little people.
also scary to portray because they are so raw, uninhibited, and open. Many
authors tend to define "uninhibited" by having that character speak
whatever the author wants them to say, on whatever subject pleases them, but
this is only making the character a mouthpiece for the author's personal views.
To be uninhibited is not to expect any consequences for what is said or done.
Writing from a child's POV is to forget what it is to be an adult and worry
about what everyone else will think about you. To be completely selfish and
unashamed of it --to be child-like, not childish.
are people, but they are not "comfortable-to-write" adults. They are
complex and mystifying, as adults are, but in ways that befuddle many adult
writers. Adults see the world through filters they have learned through
their life experiences and through what they have been taught is
"proper" by their society. It's extremely hard to drop those filters
when writing and when creating characters of any type. It's hard to forget
personal bias when viewing a character who has not had the same experiences.
This is a talent that all authors must cultivate to create any character, not
just the child character.
have heard that writers who don't have children, or have had no exposure to
children, should not write them, because they will never be able to create them
properly. I say that is an excuse, a cop-out, not a reason why they shouldn't
write children as well as other characters. Consider: What author has full
exposure to any character not themselves? Female authors may live with their
husbands and sons, but do they truly understand how the male mind and heart
works? The same is true for male authors who write female characters. Authors
who write stories set in far-flung times, whether historical or speculative,
have no true exposure to those character's experiences, thoughts, feelings or
society. And if full exposure were a mandatory element for writing a character,
then there would never be any non-human characters, whether creatures found on
Earth or sentient beings from another planet or dimension. Why should writing
child characters be given an excuse that creating no other type of character
writing children, it is important to remember that they are characters. They may
be challenging characters, but they are still characters to be drawn by the
author as other characters are.