the conservative unwritten bible for society

My tooth removal has been delayed to Wed this week due to…

I don’t know. Matters not in my control. I’ll use my imagination. Maybe pepper it with sex. But it will definitely happen then. The pain is fine. I can grind my teeth and connect them evenly. Nothing to complain about.

Except for this odd assumption in young writers that characters should be realistic in fiction. Specifically teenagers in Young Adult fiction or children’s fiction.

There you are in your writers group and someone has read their pages from their young adult short story or novel or picture book and the pages are pretty good but the child or teen character didn’t sound there age.

“Wasn’t realistic.” 

“I know children that age and they don’t talk like that.”

“Kids are savages.”

“Kids are stupid.”

“Why aren’t they more superficial?”

You get the picture?

So now as adults are we saying that kids are a lower intelligence than adults. Maybe we’re not saying that on purpose or consciously. But there is that old saying The older we get the wise we become. If that were true then why am I helping my parents and in-laws with their computer and home repair issues?

The line from the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club comes to mind: Once you grow up then you die. I find that to be true for many adults. You die into a system where you don’t have to think anymore. The system lays everything out for you. Tells you what to do, how to act, how to answer in any given situation. A conservative law for society. An unwritten bible. This unwritten bible is pounded into children at adolescence. Pounded into these stupid creatures that need to be taught the rules in order to be happy, in order to survive in the world. It’s a parent’s responsibility. Quite admirable. You do love your kids. You want them to be happy. Why wouldn’t you want the to survive?

But many kids rebel against the conservative unwritten bible for society. They take the beating. Some make it out alive and some lose.

Here’s something I think most adults are afraid to admit: Kids are smart. Even the ones who sound stupid when they talk. Inside their head they have smart thoughts and given a chance to train their brains, to work with their mouths, they will express their smart thoughts. All kids.

Here something I think most new writers are afraid to admit about fiction: Fiction doesn’t have to be 100 percent realistic. Just plausible.

And here is another thing for all characters: Characters don’t represent a group. If one teen talks smart about abortion, civil rights, or who would kick who’s ass (Captain America or Iron Man), they don’t represent a group of people, they only represent THAT CHARACTER and their story.

Teens can talk older than their age in fiction. They can talk about politics and art and their complex emotions with big fancy words right out of a text book. Why the fuck not? To the kid in real life who does it it will make them feel less alone and to the kid who doesn’t it will inspire them to broaden their mind. Think of the books of M.E. Kerr, Robert Cormier, Paul Zindle who broke down walls with their complex older-before-their-time teens.

Ten-year-olds who speak too old? Peanuts anyone?

 

 

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