Child Characters

Michelangelo_Buonarroti_-_The_Torment_of_Saint_Anthony_-_Google_Art_ProjectWhen we create fictional characters, especially children, we have to make conscious decisions regarding whether they will be typical or extraordinary.  We have to consider whether or characters will have unusual skills or talents or whether they will be “every child.”

Personally, I tend to aim for somewhere in the middle.

I do this because Every Child tends to be a bit ho hum.  This is the kid who watches the average amount of YouTube per day, has a smart phone and doesn’t do great in school but isn’t in trouble either.  He or she is pretty zzzzzz….. well, boring.  Yet this is where a lot of us go when we create fictional characters.

Other times, when we try to avoid the plight of Every Child, we create Wonder Kid.  Wonder Kid is an A student that all the teachers, parents and children LOVE.  Everything Wonder Kid does turns out PERFECT until his archnemesis comes along.

Wonder Kid is way too perfect to be interesting for long.  That’s why I try to blend these two extremes together.  I go for the kid who has one exceptional talent.  This is a better way to go than great at everything but it will still create some problems.  What do I mean?  See this painting?  This is The Torment of St. Anthony.  It was painted by a 12 year-old.  Yes, this 12 year-old happened to be Michelangelo but seriously?  This is not the painting of your average 12 year-old.  Set your character up with talent like this and he is going to attrach all kinds of attention.  A lot of that attention will not be good.  From bad attention, we can very often spin plot complications.

Where do your young characters fit on the spectrum?  Are they so average that the blend into the beige background?  Or are they so overpowered that nothing could possibly stand in their way?  If the answer to either of these questions is yes, it looks like you have a bit more work go do.