Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Kids Appear Older Than They Are

One of the things I'd like to accomplish with Magician's Merger, in terms of learning craft, is portraying believable characters. Especially, I want the kids in the story to be acting their ages. They don't have to be typical for their ages, but I want them to be believable for their ages. For anyone who feels like providing feedback, please use the comments section to tell me where I'm most badly screwing it up. I am not looking for compliments. I know I'm making mistakes, and I'm looking for places where you said, "There is no way a kid that age would ever act like that." Arthur, of course, doesn't count.

For a quick review, these are the grades of most of the characters:

Grade 1--Charlie Powyr

Grade 2--Jenny Lukowski

Grade 3--Rich Powyr

Grade 5--Mary Powyr

Grade 6

Terry Prestor
Al Gallo
Sean MacDougle
Kirsten Kennedy
Pam Derbyshire
Debbie Taylor
Carol Flagler
Pat Hughes
Donald Beauchamp (old enough to be in grade 7)

Grade 7--Brian Onken (one of the four who attacked Arthur)

Grade 8

Danny Lukowski
Mike Prestor

I don't have kids, so by necessity I've been relying on my memories of the people I knew and of myself. I also recalled my nieces and nephews when they were that age, but I know that kids act differently among themselves than when adults are present. One of the things I try to keep in mind as I write is that girls around the ages of my characters can be more verbally fluent than most boys, and they tend to behave a year or two more maturely.


bill said...

i like the italics it makes it much easier to differentiate between chars or w/e

Anonymous said...

I agree. Other authors use italics for "thoughts", speaking between multiple personalities and telepathy. Please carry on using it.

Bill said...

I don't think there is a problem here. It's true that kids this age usually don't have anything like a real "dating" type relationship but as you point out, Author doesn't count for obvious reasons,

Girls seem to mature faster than boys and the maturity shown by Kristen and Mary doesn't strike me as implausible

The band members may seem more focused and resolute than typical for that age but that doesn't mean the characters are unrealistic. We see real life examples of even greater dedication in early life among Olympic athletes. No doubt there are many untypically serious and dedicated youths that never make the news.

rabababa said...

Kirsten is a special case, and I'm not sure why. But she needs to be since Arthur needs someone his own age to relate to.

I wouldn't mind some more story about Kirsten to explain why she is more than she might be expected to be. But don't do that if it interferes with the story.

I think you have Mary exactly right. And I agree with what Bill said about the band members.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to differ, because I *really* like the story. But I was thinking about this on my own (a mark in favor of your writing - I was thinking about it at a random point in the day), and I was thinking that the characters generally seem older than their age. I was surprised to find the reviewer you quoted earlier saying what I thought: Add two years.

One example that came to mind was Arthur being past puberty and looking back to entering it. Puberty being a thing of the past at 11 seems young. Speaking of sex, the double entendres in the latest made me cringe a bit. And the age of the characters makes me squeamish about where you are going with the physical part. I hope you aren't going there.

Another place the age seemed strange was the fighting. Kids are vicious, but Arthur's enemies seem to have a bit more testosterone coursing through their veins than the average 11 year old. The grudge-holding and attempted murder seem more like junior high actions.

There are probably better examples, as I have been thinking this for a while. I don't think bumping the age up would have hurt the story. I'm doing it in my own head as I go along.

But I like the story. Novel, fun concept. Great execution. Nice evolution of Arthur's power--not instant, so it's more interesting. Interesting way of presenting the old wizard's integration with the young body--usually there's an erasure. Integration is far more interesting. Good fight scenes. Likable characters, likable relationships among the friends. Well worth reading.

Xenophon Hendrix said...

Hi Anonymous,

I'm not arguing with your general points. But I entered puberty at age eleven, and so did some of my friends.

I know that some boys don't reach puberty until later, but many reach it when I did.