Child as a Narrator

How young are your narrators? Do you write in the perspective of a child?

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For the past few weeks I have been writing about a childhood memory for one of my creative writing classes. There’s nothing special about this memory. It just happens to be the one that I remembered at that moment. It also happens to be the time when I started to doubt that Santa was real.

For the assignment, we had to write it with a child mentality. Yes, it was really difficult because this has been like ten years ago. I was completely in denial despite all the evidence pointing the other way. I guess my professor should have called it a creative non-fiction piece. There’s no doubt that kids are smart but how do you draw a balance between what you know now and what you didn’t know back then?

I have so much respect for middle grade authors and children’s book authors. It helps that I have to write this story in third person because it creates a distance between the story, the narrator and myself. Best part is that I can’t write it as if I was the protagonist. It has to be another person altogether.

So, it’s still fiction with a hint of truth. However, when it’s so personal, is there a way to not think of yourself as a character? Would you use yourself as a character? Come to think of it, this is probably the hardest exercise I have to write. I don’t want to talk down to my readers but complexity would be harder to write.

This is just something to think about. How do you strike a balance between your age and someone younger or even older even when the memory is close to you?

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