Okay now back to our regularly scheduled programing. Still up most of the night, but I will forgo daytime naps and laundry to make sure to post again. Not sure about the quality of these posts due to the lack of sleep, but I will give it my best.
Before I was sleep deprived (which seems like months ago) I was in the process of revising and having my crit partner chip away at the sequel. Without giving too much away, the second book has a POV from a young boy in one reincarnation. I tried to keep that in mind as I wrote it but my terrific crit partner found a few instances where the thought or dialog seemed too mature for the child’s age. This got me thinking about how limited a character’s voice is by age. The writer is constrained by vocab, awareness, and innocence when using a younger character. In order to keep the reader engaged the writer must be extremely aware of what a certain age is conscious of. This requires a major walk down memory lane, trying to place yourself inside your younger self in order to see the imagined world through younger eyes.
For example, my crit partner (have I told you how amazing she is?) highlighted this (twelve-year-old POV):
“He put out his hands to help her down to the entrance and I can’t believe the change that’s come over him. How he seems to lose his childish ways overnight.“
So I’ve changed it to this more age appropriate thought:
“He put out his hands to help her down to the entrance and I can’t believe the change that’s come over him—growing up overnight.“
Another example (Andres is ten):
“Andres pulls away from his grasp. ‘I’m proud of my little belly, it’s been concave for months!'”
Changed to this:
“Andres pulls away from his grasp. ‘I’m proud of my little belly, it’s been sunken for months!'”
Yes, you are limited in some ways when choosing the POV of a young character, but there are also some benefits. I decided to use a younger character in this life for three important reasons:
#1) The reader will have immediate sympathy for a young character in trouble
#2) Since this life is centered around a historic event filled with complex battle details I can explain things more to the reader if there is a young person POV. The reader can learn along with the child.
#3) I’m no nautical battle expert so I can play a passive role where the child observes adults carrying out tasks without having a deep and skilled understanding.
It is critical though when you have a young character observing a complex historic event that you must have older characters that explain things to the younger character.
The other benefit the writer has when using a young POV is that even though you must be careful to maintain a child’s view of the world, sometimes children can see or phrase things in ways that adults can’t. Children can possess a sagacious wisdom that only comes from the innocence and the magic of childhood, unobscured from cynicism and corruption. The writer can take advantage of this and utilize simple understandings touched with poetic observations only a child can convey.
So when deciding the age of your POV character keep these points in mind in order to make the best choice for your story.
I also want to let everyone know about my awesome crit partner’s blog contest going on until Friday. She’s celebrating her 150th follower–go Bethany! She’s giving away a couple of awesome prizes and her blog is fantastic if you aren’t already following her.