Kids say the funniest things. They are honest, even when it means embarrassing the people who love them. It is one of the reasons we adore them, quote their words, write the things they say in baby books and miss the baby years when they are grown.
When one of my boys was three, he looked up at me with adoring eyes and said, “Mommy, you are the biggest mommy in the whole wide world.” In the eyes of a three year old, bigger is better. I knew he was telling me in his own cute way that I was the best mommy in the whole world. That moment is tucked away in my cherished memories. Whenever I am feeling low, I remind myself, I am the biggest mommy in the whole wide world.
So, what can we learn from kid’s words as authors?
*Tell it like it is. In our character dialogue it is fun for the reader to hear the character tell it like it is. To say what they had always wanted to say in that situation, a tip I learned from Susan May Warren. A solid dose of the truth in unique words adds flavor to our novels. One of my favorite lines of a character is when someone described another character as a ‘pipe cleaner with eyes.’ What a vivid picture.
*Say it through their eyes. Each character has their own view of the world. The things they say are a reflection of their thoughts and the way they see the world. In three year old words, bigger is better. In your character’s POV they filter things through their experiences, intelligence and values. Their dialogue should reflect who they are and what they value.
*Unexpected Over The Cliché. Avoid clichés in your dialogue. Make the words unexpected. If a character is a product of the seventies, find a way to add that flare in their dialogue. If they love food, they may describe their world in recipe terms. Don’t forget to add a touch of humor to make us smile.
What is your favorite line of all time? (Either from a kid, a TV show, a movie, a book, etc.)