Thursday, May 14, 2009

Child Characters - Elizabeth Hoyt

Child characters can be a real pain to write. They can come off as too old, too young, or just plain irritating. A lot of readers say they don’t like children or babies in romances—it detracts from the chemistry between the hero and heroine. So why would an author put a child character in her book? Well, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Children do exist in the real world after all and sometimes it would be odd to omit a child character. If your heroine is a school teacher or mother, a child is going to have to be in the book. Sometimes a child character can just be in a walk-on part to add color to a scene.

But what if the child character is more?

Children by their very definition are innocents. They see the world in much more black and white terms, which can be useful for the author. A child character can reveal what the adults are hiding, or point out the obvious that the adults have avoided or missed. She can be the emotional center of a story. A child has a harder time conceal emotions. She can cry when the heroine can’t or become angry when the hero is supposed to be neutral.

But the best child characters are not just reflections of the adult characters, but have their own emotional arc within a story. That’s the kind of character I was trying to write when I gave Abigail, the little girl in TO BEGUILE A BEAST her own story arc. Abigail is her own character with her own wants and needs, and she isn’t a cute child. She has a bit of darkness about her. Here’s a scene from Abigail’s point of view:

Abigail had a sudden longing for home, in London, where she knew everyone and everything was familiar. If they were at home right now, she and Jamie would be having tea and bread with Miss Cummings. Although she'd never been very fond of Miss Cummings, the thought of her pinched, narrow face and the bread and butter she always served made Abigail's chest ache. Mama said they might never return to London.

Now Sir Alistair was frowning down at the big dog as if he might be cross with her.

"Mama'll be in soon," Abigail said to distract him.

"Ah," he said. The old dog put a paw on his boot. Sir Alistair looked up at Abigail, and she stepped back. He was so stern looking. "What are your names?"

"I'm Abigail," she said, "and that's Jamie."

"We're to have tea when Mama comes in," Jamie said. He didn't seem at all nervous at Sir Alistair's presence. But then he was blissfully rubbing the dog's ears.

Sir Alistair grunted.

"And eggs and ham and bread and jam," Jamie recited. He often forgot things, but not things that had to do with food.

"She's going to make some for you as well," Abigail said cautiously.

"She isn't a very good cook," Jamie said.

Abigail frowned. "Jamie!"

I hope you enjoy Abigail’s story in TO BEGUILE A BEAST!


Ash said...

Oh, I know I'll enjoy To Beguile A Beast! ;) It's on my TBR list, so I can't wait to get to it!

penney said...

I love this series and have just order it can't wait to read it. I'm looking forward to the last one I love the cover of it. I love your books Elizabeth

Virginia said...

Hi Elizabeth, I just wanted to say I read your Prince series and Loved it. It was a fabulous read and I am sure the rest or your books are also.

Caffey said...

So many thanks for the peek. I know I'm going to enjoy this one as I do the others. You have a great writing voice! I have two copies of book 2, LOL, so I do need to get 1 and 3 and to start :) Can't wait!