Just a short post tonight, as I’m juggling a couple of deadlines and need to focus more on writing.
A few weeks ago, I watched Star Wars with my boys for the first time. This was a big moment for me, as I’ve loved Star Wars since I was seven years old. The kids were enthralled right up until the medal ceremony at the end. It went like this:
Master N: Do the good guys get medals, Daddy?
Master T: Even that guy? (Points at Han) But he’s a scaredy cat who ran away!
Me: Yeah, but he did come back at the end.
Master N: But the robots didn’t run away and they don’t get medals. That’s not fair. They all helped.
Master T: The princess should get a medal too, and she’s definitely not a scaredy cat!
Master N: I’m Luke.
Master T: That’s okay, I’m Chewie. He’s my favourite, except I can talk. RaaaAAAAAaargh!
There are a few important lessons here for a children’s author.
- Kids will usually identify with the marginalised characters and the dorks, rather than the suave ones.
- They also have a strong sense of justice and will call out unfairness if their favourite characters get short shrift.
- Children can spot bullshit a mile away. Han is a scaredy-cat in Act 3. He’s willing to let his friends die to save his own hide—I think he mostly comes back out of guilt. But he’s uber-cool, so most of us still cheer for him.
- Boys will absolutely identify with a female heroine until some idiot tells them they can’t. Kids are less worried about the gender of the character than their achievements.
Until next time,