As a writer, I’ve usually avoided the use of kids in fiction. I don’t write kids well and I tend to get leery of books and movies that use kids in a significant way.
Don’t get me wrong. Without kids there is no It. In the books Lord of the Rings, Merry and Pippin are essentially kids and they contribute significantly to the overall story. A Wrinkle in Time. There are lots of authors that weave children as characters in their books with an amazing amount of skill.
Then there are the other stories. Many a TV series has tried to refresh itself by inserting a kid. Cute factor aside, it falls flat. Prince Tarn in the 1985 Red Sonja movie. He’s a kid that is more annoying than anything, then this pre-teen goes and kicks all kinds of ass. Nope.
Why am I thinking kids in fiction?
Recently, I finished a novella – about 25,000 words – called The Beach, or The Beach House, or sometimes, That Story set in the house on the beach. It is a bit of a cosmic horror type novel mixed with a ghost story. Yea, I gotta work on the title.
One of the characters, a main character, is a 12-year-old girl. She is kind of an amalgamation of my 3 daughters (12-year-old twins and a 10-year-old). She’s the first kid I’ve written in a major role (there is a second in another WIP). In the past, kids have had kind of very minor, just passing, roles in my stories.
As I do some rewriting and editing, it is important that I capture the kid accurately. I don’t think a pre-teen will fight off Zombie hoards, single-handedly destroy a space fleet, or slay a dragon.
I want to be accurate. And I want to make sure I capture a simple fact. As a 6th-grade teacher, I know kids can be extraordinarily resilient and quite tough. They can face up to a lot of things they shouldn’t have to, and come out on the other side.
Tough, but not fulfill a prophesy.
It’s a tough balance, and a great challenge.