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03:49:59 AM Jul 14th 2012
edited by SeaRover
09:08:09 PM May 17th 2011
edited by Stoogebie
Okay, a complaint here: The main article states that children written from an adult's perspective show interests that characters their own age would not, or vice versa. To cite an example, they reference that "a 16 year old won't be dying for sex". I know it's a bit nit-picky, but some of us just don't care about sex. The fact that having a sex-crazed teen character would be guilty of another annoying trope makes this seem kind of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of thing.

Just wondering: if a character is supposed to be somewhere around eight or nine or ten, but is self-sufficient, street-smart, and Wise Beyond Their Years (not to mention a rather unusual level of sarcasm and dry wit for someone her age), would it count? And, on the other hand, if it's later revealed that she can't "get" an innuendo for the life of her, is this a subversion?
11:34:35 AM Nov 11th 2011
I'd say that would count, but I don't know about the subversion part.

And I agree with your first point. The worst part is, it acts like it's strange that a teenager would have a purely romantic relationship and links it to Relationship Writing Fumble! It makes me wish I was older so I wouldn't have to put up with people's assumptions.
05:52:47 PM Jan 18th 2011
Does anyone know of good info sources an author can use for research to avoid this trope?
08:45:17 AM Aug 13th 2010
From the Wee Free Men example:

This doesn't express anything other than that the writer is one of those "some readers".
10:02:43 PM May 8th 2010
Morgan Wick: "Part of the problem with writers writing like a child is that their writing sounds childish - which is why this is an omnipresent trope. Consider how many people hate the Inheritance Cycle - written by a teenager." People don't hate the Inheritance Cycle because the writing is childish (if anything it's trying too hard to be "adult"), they hate it because it uses childish tropes.
12:59:37 PM Apr 24th 2010
I think this entire trope is being mishandled. The title and description seem to imply that the writers are physically incapable of writing real children (though this does seem to be the case in select examples). However, is it not more the case, especially given many of the examples, that writing children realistically would make for a terrible show? Who wants a main character who's whiny, dependent, prone to shouting, barely world-weary enough to make an intelligent decision and is almost completely stuck inside their own imagination? Not that I dislike kids or anything, but if any of the kids I've known were ever a main character in a TV show, I'd turn it right the hell off!

The other "Most writers are X" tropes revolve around limitations found in media due to the standards and likes of those who write things. This trope however focuses on the limitation of characterization that comes about by necessity of the plot. If Ash acted like a normal 10 year old, Pokemon wouldn't have lasted more than 2 episodes. Jade (from Jackie Chan Adventures) should by all rights either be dead or a non-participant in the story. The Wizard should have ended 15 minutes into the film when the trio either gets caught and sent home or abducted. And since Most Kid's Shows are AIMED at Kids, it makes sense to have child characters at the forefront of the action... but like I mentioned above, having them be "realistic" kids would be counter productive.

I don't think the Trope should be removed, but I think a rename and an overhaul of the description are in order.

05:34:48 PM Apr 24th 2010
Good points. There ARE a lot of adults who can't write kids realistically, and maybe that could be a separate trope or have its own section.

Or, I think examples of kids being way too smart could be separated from kids who behave like adults. Kids who act like adults, in terms of having adult interests or mentality are blatantly written by people who have forgotten what kids care about and think about.

Maybe a separation?

Like "kids who act like adults" and "kids who are very smart for their age"? Or "patently unrealistic kid characters" and "kids who act like kids in one way, but like adults in another"?

It's hard for me to figure out where to draw the distinction, but I do feel some changes are in order.

As for what you say regarding "realistic" kids not being able to handle themselves in danger, the thing is this: if the kids do what kids are able to do to the best of their knowledge and abilities (i.e. having the knowledge a real kid might have), while still being emotionally realistic, the story could work. There's a ton of kids' books about kids surviving danger while doing only what real kids could realistically do in the situation. Much of Peg Kehret's output, for instance, is basically about that. Her kid heroes are limited by their age, which makes them exciting, because they are not "little adults", but rather, kids with kid fears, kid concerns, and kid knowledge.

So it can be done. It's just that it often isn't, especially in TV and cartoons; books tend to be more realistic.
09:33:04 PM Apr 24th 2010
I think we need to identify, then separate, cases where the children act like adults because:

A) the plot demands it


B) the writer simply cannot write children.

Rule of Drama or Rule of Funny may also be a factor.

A, like i mentioned above, would be Pokemon. If the show is about a 10 year old boy who travels the world, a certain level of smarts and maturity have to be instilled so that he doesn't wind up dead of starvation somewhere. At the very least, he'd have to be even-tempered enough so that watching the show doesn't get MORE annoying. The fault of the author isn't that they can't write kids, but that they're writing a situation which no actual kid would stand a chance of success. All this is simply to cater to the expectant audience. So this would be more like "Most Viewers are Children". (except they're not and we'd have to be careful to avoid overlap with Animation Age Ghetto and What Do You Mean It's For Kids

B would be any show where the child isn't a main character or crucial to the plot, but where their maturity, poise, vocabulary, etc are at a higher than normal level for no real reason. I think that after seeing all the examples, we can redefine "they're just smarter than average" as a BS excuse for lazy writing. Though it would depend on how well justified this is within the story, as well as how skillfully other children in the story are written by comparison. If one child is smarter than her peers, that's one thing. But if a bunch of six year olds are waxing eloquent, that'd be this trope (as described) in a nutshell.
11:02:10 PM Apr 24th 2010
A) is very true. As I mentioned, kids' books tend to be far more likely to portray realistic kids in dangerous or exciting situations, while still having them speak, act, think, etc. their own age. However, because A) is so common, I wonder if this is simply a different form of Kid Hero - i.e. a Kid Hero who is more "hero" than "kid".

For B), I agree. In fact, if this trope had to be narrowed down, I'd rather it be about writers not being able to write kids well at all.

However, B) shows up in works intended for kids also. Rule of Funny gets in the way though and muddies things up a bit. Helga in Hey Arnold! talks about her obsession with Arnold in melodramatic terms no fourth-grader would use. But it's not meant to be totally realistic or even "kids' book realistic" (crushes are portrayed far more realistically in literature meant for kids), and when dealing with "cartoony" cartoons, it really can be hard to tell when a kid's behavior is because the adult writer doesn't know what they're doing, rather than because of Rule of Funny, etc.

But even in shows meant for kids, you get characters saying things like "you've saturated the marketplace" (Hey Arnold! again) and "they'll undermine the world economy!" (Inspector Gadget). Things no kid the character's age would think or say. The question is when stuff like that falls under B). Of course, how justified it is within the story would be a point, but Penny in Inspector Gadget wasn't meant to be funny, nor was Arnold in Hey Arnold! when he explained to an adult why his product no longer sells. I'd consider both of those bad writing, B), rather than A).
09:54:41 PM May 8th 2010
edited by
Morgan Wick: A is probably really close to Wise Beyond Their Years. Or, alternately, it's a lot closer to what the original YKTTW had in mind.
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