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  1. #1
    Nikki Massie
    Guest

    A Child's Perspective

    I am wondering if you could tell me what you think about these couple of paragraphs. The set-up is that the child (Annikki) has just been told that she's spending a week with her father, who she does not see very often.

    This character is based heavily on my daughter (of the same name but I'm going to change the name eventually--just put her name in for lack of another), so the character traits are true to the child, I'm just not sure about the voice.
    ___________________________


    Annikki stomped her feet, crossed her arms, poked out her bottom lip and eventually, in a fit of utter frustration, held her breath for ninety whole seconds—all to no avail. Much as the seven year-old longed to have her father close to her for a whole week, she could not take full pleasure in the news her mother delivered to her the night before. It was the details that concerned her. Annikki was a child who lived, breathed and slept on the secure foundation of the details that defined her life. Her mother called them preferences, but she knew these things to be necessities.

    What she did not know was whether her father knew about these things at all. Would he know to cut the crusts off of her sandwich or that she liked the whole wheat bread with the oats on the top? Would he get her to school before 7:55 when Sister Nancy closed the doors and began to give out late passes? How could he possibly know whose day it was to pick the sole television show that she and her sister were allowed to watch in the half hour before bed or that mommy tucked them “up” not “in” after singing them “Twinkle, twinkle little star?” These intricacies were threads in the fabric that made up Annikki’s sanity.

    Much as she adored her father, Annikki just couldn’t be sure he’d remember, so she came up with a plan. Mommy would simply have to spend this week with them. That way she could make sure daddy knew what to do. Besides, that way they could be a family again, the way they were in the picture Annikki kept taped to the wall beside her bed. She was only a small baby in the picture but if she closed her eyes very tightly she could see images of mommy and daddy kissing and smiling at one another. She even remembered the time before her little sister was born when the three of them used to huddle in bed together and Annikki would fall asleep to the soft murmur of her parents voices.



  2. #2
    M. Lee
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    I like this, Nikki.

    I think the voice IS authentic, but with the psuedo-adult overview that goes along with childish narration in the 3rd.

    It's well written and flows nicely, and I have a visual in my head of this child, both stubborn and insecure.

    I hope this helps!

  3. #3
    leslee
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    Just my opinion, feel free to ignore:

    The voice is that of a narrator, not the child. It is providing summary:

    "Her mother called them preferences, but she knew these things to be necessities."

    and overview:

    "These intricacies were threads in the fabric that made up Annikki’s sanity."

    In a way that a child would not do. But unless you write this in first person, and make all the thoughts conform to the vocabulary of a child, you won't be able to project a child's "voice." So, the question becomes, are you accurately describing the thoughts of the child, but through adult perspective? And the answer to that is yes. It reads very true.

    One thing:

    ninety whole seconds
    a whole week

    You don't want the repitition of "whole" in the first paragraph.

  4. #4
    Simon Says
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    I agree with leslee that it reads true, but i think there is a narrative medium - where you can express the child's thoughts and feelings in a way that would reflect a child's POV more closely without writing in a child's voice.

    For example in the sentence

    "Her mother called them preferences, but she knew these things to be necessities."

    Seven year olds would probably express the concept of what is a necessity without using the word neccesity.

    "Her mother (perhaps change mother to mom) called them preferences, but Annika knew she needed these things."

    Then perhaps you can extend the passage by illustrating some of the other things she needed - "The same way she needed water when she was thirsty and huggy bear when she slept". At 7 she may have outgrown huggy bear - but you get the idea.

  5. #5
    M. Lee
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    Yes, it would be almost impossible to wholly use a child's voice in the third, which is what I meant by comment.

    Even a child's voice has overtones of adulthood when using the third, out of necessity, I suppose. If you wanted us privy only to her thoughts you would have written it in the first, correct?

    One of the reasons for using the third is because your hoping to get some kind of greater perspective - one you couldn't wholly capture using the first.

    With that in mind, I think you do a nice job of blending knowldege of the child with the "big picture" view that typically goes along with 3rd person perspective.

    Michelle

  6. #6
    M. Lee
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    Those are all good points, Simon.

  7. #7
    Nikki Massie
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    My question was off, thank you all for pointing that out.

    I tried to write it in first person but it didn't allow me to convey all the information I wanted to convey (like, from my experience, 7 year olds just have feelings, they don't analyze them, they just "are") and also because on the overall I am trying to convey a larger point.

    My goal is to have this child be very aware of her needs and her need providers and then when the need provider changes, I want her to visibly go through some stuff. In the end, the main character (the dad in the overall story) needs to see that his absence has, in part, defined his presence in his children's lives. Does that make any sense? Anyway, I'm going to keep working on it.

  8. #8
    Mary L
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    If you want to read a masterpiece of close third person, try Janet Fitch's new book Paint It Black.

  9. #9
    M. Lee
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    I love Janet Fitch - thanks for the recommendation, Mary.

  10. #10
    Richard Reilly
    Guest

    Re: A Child's Perspective

    do you need to say 'in a fit of frustration'

    the phrase 'all to no avail' seems very summary-like to me - not narrative voice, if you know waht i mean

    also the list of three things is very summary like - just qucik given facts. the last one - hold breath - especially you could take more time to depict - since it does take longer to do and is mroe extreme

    'as the seven year old..' = information dump


    Much as the seven year-old longed to have her father close to her for a whole week, she could not take full pleasure in the news her mother delivered to her the night before.

    :i dont like the instruction 'show dont tell' but i believe it might be applicable here


    It was the details that concerned her. Annikki was a child who lived, breathed and slept on the secure foundation of the details that defined her life. Her mother called them preferences, but she knew these things to be necessities.

    - same again here, its like a summary of information; not character depiction

    What she did not know was whether her father knew about these things at all. Would he know to cut the crusts off of her sandwich or that she liked the whole wheat bread with the oats on the top? Would he get her to school before 7:55 when Sister Nancy closed the doors and began to give out late passes? How could he possibly know whose day it was to pick the sole television show that she and her sister were allowed to watch in the half hour before bed or that mommy tucked them “up” not “in” after singing them “Twinkle, twinkle little star?” These intricacies were threads in the fabric that made up Annikki’s sanity.

    i see information give only here again.
    i dont see emotion etc in teh child.
    also, wouldnt those things more likely be discovered when daddy actually didnt do those things - unless she's very precocious, in which case wouldnt you need to build that more integrally as her character




    Much as she adored her father, Annikki just couldn’t be sure he’d remember, so she came up with a plan. Mommy would simply have to spend this week with them. That way she could make sure daddy knew what to do. Besides, that way they could be a family again, the way they were in the picture Annikki kept taped to the wall beside her bed. She was only a small baby in the picture but if she closed her eyes very tightly she could see images of mommy and daddy kissing and smiling at one another. She even remembered the time before her little sister was born when the three of them used to huddle in bed together and Annikki would fall asleep to the soft murmur of her parents voices.

    final para there bit better


    overall think need more character.


    did someone mention try write first person

    "like, from my experience, 7 year olds just have feelings, they don't analyze them, they just "are") and also because on the overall I am trying to convey a larger point."

    maybe you can convey that larger point between teh lines. isnt that what fiction's about?

    if she's aware of her needs etc, and if that's realistic for her as a character, then you can convey taht through her character.

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