I’m currently working on a novel and am using dual timelines – one for my adult protagonist, the other from a child’s viewpoint. At the start of the novel, the child is eight years old. I’m writing in first person point of view, and I want the language I use for these chapters to be both believable and realistic for a child of that age.
In researching how to write as an eight-year-old, here are a few tips I gathered, which I hope you may find useful too. If you have any others, I’d love you to add a comment and let me know!
Tips for writing from an eight-year-old’s viewpoint:
- Don’t write in baby language – children of eight are not yet adults, but neither are they babies anymore.
- Use shorter sentences. Children tend not to form huge sentences, so keep it short.
- Don’t use complicate or fancy words. Children’s language is not sophisticated at this age (unless they’re some sort of child genius), so think of the simplest words for the ideas you want to get across.
- Bear in mind the shorter attention span of a child of this age. One minute they may be telling you about something, the next they’ll be distracted by something more fun.
- Eight-year-olds have goals. Just like adults, children of this age have goals, needs and wants. They may be simple in nature, such as, “I want ice cream for dessert,” or more complex such as, “I want my friends to like me.” Children of this age may not know why they have these goals, or may not be aware of the goal even, but they always want something.
- Eight-year-old’s have feelings. They may not know what all their feelings mean, but they still feel them. They will describe emotions in the simplest terms and will likely state them but not analyse them. Often, emotions will be harshly polarised, for example, “I hate you.”
- Give your eight-year-old character a personality. Yes they are a character in your story but they are also a person. Every person is different and has their own quirks, and eight-year-olds should be treated like any other character in this way – if not, you risk them being dull, boring, or too generic at best.
- Try to hang out with a bunch of eight-year-olds and listen to how they speak. This is the best way to be able to replicate the sorts of language and sentence structure they use.
- If you’re still unsure, grab a few books written for eight-year-olds and see how other authors have tackled the language and thoughts of such an age group.
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For your amusement, the featured picture is of me when I was around eight. I was bridesmaid for my cousin’s wedding, hence the wonderfully terrible outfit! The adults are my Great Aunt and Uncle, who I remember being lots of fun and good at making chips.
Hope these tips help, please comment below with any other tips I should know about!