My second oldest son captured my heart from the day he was born, but one particular moment stands out in my mind. My little guy was cuddled up next to me. He put a hug around my neck and a wet kiss on my cheek. The next thing he said lifts me up on even my darkest of days.
“Mommy, you are the biggest Mommy in the whole wide world.” Sniff, Sniff. Yes, my eyes got teary. It wasn’t that I had just been told I was the size of a house, but that I had been told I was the best in the world.
To a young boy bigger is better, so I scored the ultimate compliment.
Children can say things that no one else can say and get the awe moment from our readers. They might have messy pets, scraped knees, a goofy laugh and missing teeth, but they tug at our heart strings.
Are you struggling to build in a sense of awe at different points in your book, or lack smile moments? Then adding in a child as one of your story’s cast is a solid idea.
How can you create a believable child character?
*Determine the age and research. Take time to hang out with a mom who has experience kids, preferably has more than one of her own. That will give her a more complete picture about age trends.
A Resource that allows you to look up gender and age and find what a child is saying and focusing on at that age could be immensely helpful to you: Yardsticks by Chip Wood. It is very easy to use and a great asset to a writer.
*Develop a few quirky habits. For example, some boys are notorious for chasing frogs or a girls who is always feeding her imaginary friend tea. Brainstorm a few quirky habits they could have that make you smile. If you can’t think of any, try watch old episodes of TV because many shows relied on this kind of humor then.
*Give them a physically endearing quality. Boys often have dimples or a hair colic, a girl could have large eyes and sweet smile. Whatever this quality is, make it cute and it makes the reader think.
*Stir trouble in the mix. Add some mischievous behavior or some way that they cause trouble in a child-like innocence. It can add humor and conflict to the book.
*Give them a common phrase. Pick something that they say that is totally them. I can still here Beaver say, “What you up to Wally, ” Build this dialogue piece out of the research by grade level. Think of what they do and their developmental nature at this stage, then build dialogue out of that.
What else do you like to see in a child character that makes you cry or smile?