Thursday, November 11, 2010

Advice from my son on character

It never ceases to amaze me when my son gives me advice on writing.  He is an avid reader at nine years old, so I take his advice very seriously. 

Last night at dinner, he mentioned a book that he read last year.  He considers it one of his all-time favorites: The Gorillas of Gill Park.  Sadly, I have not read this book yet, so I can't tell you anything about it myself, but Elijah loved the characters in the book.  I asked him what made them so good, and he said "just who they were."  I prodded further (usually necessary with a nine-year-old boy).  He said the characters were kind, polite.  Funny, I ask?  Not necessarily, he said.  He just liked that they were kids who did the right thing. 

So I jump in and give him an idea for a MG character I'm working on.  A boy with a personal flaw he wants to hide.  Elijah says, "Mom, your characters shouldn't have a problem within themselves.  The problem needs to come from the environment."  I'm not kidding...he said this.  And then I thought, yeah...what tween doesn't already have a whole slew of things they feel embarrassed about.  It must be refreshing for that age to pick up a book and read about characters that face and beat down problems on the outside, despite all their personal flaws, which rightfully take second fiddle to the real issues. 

I hope he can be my agent when I grow up.

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