An essential character I don't know

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Watcher55
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An essential character I don't know

Post by Watcher55 » December 30th, 2010, 4:03 pm

I almost posted this on the Procrastination thread, but this is a serious roadblock that I’ve managed to detour around so far. Now I find myself in a position where I can’t finish the end until I figure out a way to get inside the head of a twelve year old girl.

A little background - I have 4 brothers, 4 sisters (I'm #5) and >20 nieces and nephews. I was a high school teacher for 10 years so I know a thing or two about babies and children and teenagers - but twelve year old girls?????

Setting doesn't matter, I just need to build my archetype.

HELP!

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by enyouse » December 30th, 2010, 4:22 pm

Pick up one of the Anastasia Krupnick books, by Lois Lowry - or, for a more serious/dramatic twelve year old, Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry.

She gets girls that age right - an age characterized by wondering and observation. Her characters are smart enough to see what's really happening, but they don't always know why, or see why clearly. They wonder a lot about the adult world, see it as intriguing, boring, sometimes nonsensical.

They're short books, and it's worth the forty-five minutes.

Another good twelve year old girl is Alice - Agony of Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. There are more in the series, but I think Agony is the one where she's twelve.

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by polymath » December 30th, 2010, 4:38 pm

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of. Tomboys thrive on chasing snakes and snails and puppy dog tails along with the boys. At the age of twelve, like boys, girls begin to explore self-identity separate from parentally imposed identity. They have an internal viewpoint and an external viewpoint that are beginning to soften from black and white to shades of gray. They're not able to process and evaluate much more than a few viewpoints. They are more conscious of other viewpoints but not ready to embrace them.

My nieces and grand nieces some of whom are currently twelve and younger sisters when they were twelve tended to be little miss prisses, prim and proper, and tattletalers for the slightest deviations from the rules. They don't like boys but play with them if they're not too roughhousing. They like dolls still, but tend to avoid baby doll cutesy. They're pretty darn good at wrapping men around their pinky fingers with doe eyed innocence and vulnerability and tears, but haven't yet developed subtler sexual manipulation skills. Twelve is often the last year a girl is afforded a degree of close intimacy by male relatives that society considers inappropriate for older ages. Though sweet sixteen is considered the age of sexual maturity, incest taboos cause an emotional detachment between fathers and daughters soon after the age of twelve. A tragic time neither party fully realizes and is traumatic to young girls who've not fully resolved their daddy and patriarchal approval issues.
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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by bcomet » December 30th, 2010, 5:16 pm

All that from Polymath.

And, to add:

It can be the age between being still a child and feeling safe as one and being thrust (by peers, parents, teachers, society, etc) into older roles suddenly. Some dive right in. It's exciting to be grown up, go to the older kids' school, but the turf is different. Now is when competition gets tough over stupid things like how big your breasts are or who wants to sit with you at lunch or if your clothes are cool: things that are out of the child's control. Girls can get aggressive at this age or they can get depressed. It's not a fair fight.

Suddenly they are isolated without any comfortable turf. For some girls, first kisses and first boyfriends happen here. For others, not to /for them. Many girls are way uncomfortable with their bodies and may also view touch or the potential for touch as invasive, scary, dirty and have guilt. They may suffer in silence.

My observation is that the spiritual side awakens then too. Life gets complex, but in Western society, there are few rituals for the transformation into and through puberty. Therefore this spiritual awakening can be terrifying in a child and most often gets channeled into some sort of destructive or rebellious behavior. Adults are notorious for missing seeing this spiritual awakening in a pubescent or teen. (Later, teens will express this spirituality through wondering passionately about the meaning of life and fall in love with poets.)

As an art teacher, this age was like pulling teeth, to get any real free expression from either sex in front of witnesses (their peers).
It was doable, but they preferred safe, knowable approval. Those who dared to be different (not just bullies or fearful) stood out and all the others were in awe of them because they didn't care about their peers. (Great example -fiction- of this type of independent outsider is the punk girl in the movie About A Boy.) However, most typically, this is an age when peer groups matter terribly because kids get separated out into cool or not-cool by their peers and it's hard to cross into cool from not-cool after that classification. Hence, the bully girls fight seriously to be cool and put down others so that they are not on the picked-on side and the sensitive ones often don't have enough self-information yet to do well in such battles. It can be baffling for them in that, a year earlier, their whole future was open and suddenly, socially, when they most need to belong to a tribe of their peers, it shuts down at enormous speed.

It can be a very lonely go for a girl who is sensitive. The pecking order system sucks, but until it is re-channeled by adults and culture, this is where much psychological social damage happens.

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Sommer Leigh » December 30th, 2010, 8:11 pm

Oh man. Twelve year old girls. *shudder*

To add - this is the time when approval from peers, especially the other girls, is EXTREMELY important. More important than anything else, maybe. There is little to no individuality among girlfriends. It is not ok to be different. It is the end of good relationships between mom and dad. Within the year things will get weird between daughter and dad, and within two years things will deteriorate entirely with mom for pretty much the duration of high school. Relationships with friends who are boys also go weird for different reasons. Girls start to have this strange relationship with boys - they begin crushing on them but at the same time they are so uncomfortable with them.

Girls bodies make the biggest changes between 12 and 13. Girls get their periods, they stop looking like boys and start to show a little bit like girls.

I hated being twelve. I still looked like a boy and was in love with almost every boy I came in contact with.
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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Watcher55 » December 30th, 2010, 8:43 pm

Wow, that's a lot to process. Watched the movie, read a chunk of Agony of Alice (Google books). I guess I'll have to check the library for the Krupnick books and hide them inside War and Peace like a kid in a classroom. Ya'll gave me lots of great insight and so many facets to work with so far. I guess I can post my archetype sometime tomorrow to see if I'm kinda close.

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Cookie » December 31st, 2010, 8:51 am

I would also add petty and vindictive. That goes along with what Sommer said. If you did not fit in to your crowd of friends, there would be hell to pay.
There are also girls at the other end of the spectrum from what Sommer described-- the girls that develop too early. I was one of those, and I got picked on all the time. Not by girls, by boys. I remember dreading walking down one of the hallways because I would have to pass a certain boy who would always accuse me of stuffing. I hated him. I'm over it now. I was extremely self-conscious at that age, and felt extremely awkward. I would try to hide my budding development, but being poor and having mostly hand-me-downs, it could be tricky.

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Watcher55 » December 31st, 2010, 10:55 am

Ok, a snapshot of Maia, the eldest of the Pleiades just before Orion chases her for the first time. (they, like most of the Pantheon have a previous life - outside of their more familiar times and places)

No more than a breaking bud herself, full of wonder and surrounded by doubt, she knew the white dandelions were old and that the downy dancers were seeds that would grow into more dandelions. she knew this but she could still pretend that the white ensembles were waiting for her to whistle soft music in their ears. She could pretend the dancers were searching for her true heart's desire, and when they found him they would cast their magic and he would wonder who she was too.

"Dumb old boys" she said as she threw the empty stem to the ground. Sarah wasn't even nice; so what if she was already showing?

"Maia!"

With narowed eyes and an impatient groan she made a show of turning about so her golden locks swept the air and played with the sun. Orion. Why didn't he just leave her alone? He always made sure he sat behind her at seminar and he would whisper and laugh with his pea brained friends every time she passed. If he was alone he would just grin and follow her with his squinty little eyes.
=======================

She "doesn't need" her Da but he is with her when she is alone and scared and his hand guides hers as she pulls the shard of glass from of her hand. She tries to be brave but the tears leap off her cheeks and make little splashing sounds only she can hear.

She loves her six younger sisters but they are a burden. She doesn't want to be bossy but it's her responsibility to make sure they do things the right way.

The world is a wonderous mystery but she's not ready to solve it, because she is mystery to herself. A wonderous mystery to be sure, but frightening because she doesn't want to be defined by her parents or sisters or even Artemis. This runs counter to her desire for validity but she wants to be different - no - she wants to be new.
========================

Twelve -
A hothouse flower transplanted and shown to Helios as he patiently waits for her flower.
A rose or a thistle? Hemlock or elder? Orchid or violet? The sun doesn't know. She is her own mystery.
========================

:shrug: at least that's who y'all said she is. No really thanks loads. Y'all helped me find the right memories so I could whittle 'em out.

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Quill » December 31st, 2010, 11:02 am

Watcher55 wrote:I almost posted this on the Procrastination thread, but this is a serious roadblock that I’ve managed to detour around so far. Now I find myself in a position where I can’t finish the end until I figure out a way to get inside the head of a twelve year old girl.

A little background - I have 4 brothers, 4 sisters (I'm #5) and >20 nieces and nephews. I was a high school teacher for 10 years so I know a thing or two about babies and children and teenagers - but twelve year old girls?????

Setting doesn't matter, I just need to build my archetype.

HELP!
Setting does matter. Twelve-year-old girls will vary by culture and time period, besides varying among individuals.

As for general characteristics you have a trove of experiences to draw from, from knowing your sisters growing up, and from your own grade school days. You can also, as has been mentioned, read books (and watch movies) involving girls that age. And you can intuit.

The protagonist of my middle grade WIP is a thirteen-year-old girl. I didn't get the advantage of having sisters, but my first girlfriend was thirteen when I met her, and she has been a big part of my inspiration for the character.

And like I said, you can intuit. And there are so many types of girls. Your character has to ring true but basically you're a writer, you get to make stuff up!

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by polymath » December 31st, 2010, 11:06 am

I find it a little peculiar how young adult women and young adult men experience different family social dynamics. Though not by any means global, young men build stronger bonds with their fathers starting about at the age of twelve and with their mothers not wanting to let go of their baby boys. While young women experience escalating mother rivalry and emotionally receding fathers from about the age of twelve. Plus young women experience predatory sexual targeting from about that age on. Men hardly ever experience predatory sexual targeting, or at least not that they're typically conscious of. I suppose there's no wonder in general why women mature sooner than men and have relapses into puella aeternas (eternal child, feminine gender) during later life adulthood intitation phases. Although, again in general, society doesn't recognize womankind's quicker maturity.
Last edited by polymath on December 31st, 2010, 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Watcher55 » December 31st, 2010, 11:12 am

polymath wrote:I find it a little peculiar how young adult women and young adult men experience different family social dynamics. Though not by any means global, young men build stronger bonds with their fathers starting about at the age of twelve and with their mothers not wanting to let go of their baby boys. While young women experience escalating mother rivalry and emotionally receding fathers from about the age of twelve. Plus young women experience predatory sexual targeting from about that age on. Men hardly ever experience predatory sexual targeting, or at least not that they're typically conscious of. I suppose their's no wonder in general why women mature sooner than men and have relapses into puella aeternas (eternal child, feminine gender) during later life adulthood intitation phases. Although, again in general, society doesn't recognize womankind's quicker maturity.
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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Sommer Leigh » December 31st, 2010, 1:15 pm

Cookie wrote:I would also add petty and vindictive. That goes along with what Sommer said. If you did not fit in to your crowd of friends, there would be hell to pay.
There are also girls at the other end of the spectrum from what Sommer described-- the girls that develop too early. I was one of those, and I got picked on all the time. Not by girls, by boys. I remember dreading walking down one of the hallways because I would have to pass a certain boy who would always accuse me of stuffing. I hated him. I'm over it now. I was extremely self-conscious at that age, and felt extremely awkward. I would try to hide my budding development, but being poor and having mostly hand-me-downs, it could be tricky.

Oh my god yes to this. That was the same year for me too that I went from looking like a scrawny boy with long hair to having breasts and they were all I noticed, they were all everyone else noticed too. I walked around feeling like every boy in school was staring at them. All I wanted to do was hide them. And the girls? I remember this one girl very vividly who came to school one day having painted each of her fingernails a different color. Lunch was spent with petty, passive aggressive remarks flying every which way about her but never at her. She ended up going home early because she couldn't stop sobbing. After that, all I wanted to do was become completely invisible. Also I wanted to kiss a boy named Nick more than anything in the whole wide world.
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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Cookie » December 31st, 2010, 8:20 pm

Sommer Leigh wrote: Lunch was spent with petty, passive aggressive remarks flying every which way about her but never at her. She ended up going home early because she couldn't stop sobbing.
I laugh now when I see young girls doing this, because it is such a silly thing to do. Then get sad when I remember I was the same way. I had my fair share of going home crying too.
Teenage girls are evil little devils minions.

I heard somewhere that teenagers are clinically insane. It has to do with the changing brain chemistry and sudden onslaught of hormones. I believe it.

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Re: An essential character I don't know

Post by Watcher55 » January 1st, 2011, 1:33 pm

Cookie wrote:
Sommer Leigh wrote: Lunch was spent with petty, passive aggressive remarks flying every which way about her but never at her. She ended up going home early because she couldn't stop sobbing.
I laugh now when I see young girls doing this, because it is such a silly thing to do. Then get sad when I remember I was the same way. I had my fair share of going home crying too.
Teenage girls are evil little devils minions.

I heard somewhere that teenagers are clinically insane. It has to do with the changing brain chemistry and sudden onslaught of hormones. I believe it.
"Teenagers are brain damaged" Bill Cosby

The teenage years are when the brain starts culling itself (the brain shrinks). Add that to the invading army of hormones and self-centered logic, and discretion doesn't stand a chance. The worst are those who have to make a point of telling adults that they're "grown".

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