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For Book: How Old Should This Kid Be?
Old 05-02-2019, 08:31 AM   #1
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For Book: How Old Should This Kid Be?

In a flashback scene, the main character has a bad dad. The dad takes his two kids camping and decides to have an affair with a waitress whom he meets at a diner.

So, he drops the kids off beside a logging road and tells them that it's time for them to learn to be self-reliant. Says, "Don't tell Mom, but I'm going to let you guys camp by yourselves tonight. I'll meet you right here in the morning."

The boy is a teenager and his sister is one year younger than he is.

My question: How old should the boy be?

I want the dad to be extremely irresponsible, but the story has to be believable.

Thanks.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:33 AM   #2
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14
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:37 AM   #3
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Anywhere from 12 to 15. You may pick up some young fans with this story line.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:39 AM   #4
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14
Agree. Younger would not be too credible.
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Old 05-02-2019, 08:56 AM   #5
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Good. That's what I was thinking.

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You may pick up some young fans with this story line.
Up to the point where the sister gets eaten by a bear.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:00 AM   #6
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Did this father pick up some wine at the Dollar Store?
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:28 AM   #7
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Thirteen. Perfect for the setting described.

It is that age which young men are both naively courageous and yet still apprehensive. Still untested by both themselves and society, it is the very beginning of "The Wonder Years".


At the slight risk of being cliche', it is a perfectly believable age as, Thirteen has been a transitional age in many cultures throughout time.



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Old 05-02-2019, 09:42 AM   #8
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I agree with the age of 14.

And, will the title be $hitty Dad?
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:48 AM   #9
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I actually would make him 10 or 11 so the reader will have extra sympathy for him and especially his little sister, for whom he must stay strong and hide his own fear—it will still be believable but not a slam-dunk, like a 14 year old would be, and will underscore bad dad’s badness.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:22 AM   #10
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Okay, I'm moving down toward twelve.

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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
I agree with the age of 14.

And, will the title be $hitty Dad?
The $hitty Dad Next Door.

Quote:
Did this father pick up some wine at the Dollar Store?
LOL.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:23 AM   #11
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I think 12-14 is about right. At 12, my brother was 10 and that was about the time that we were allowed to stay home alone without any supervision. We pretty much had free rein in the afternoons after school and during the summer.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:50 AM   #12
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Not only a bad dad, but some really bad kids. The 14 and 12 year old text their friends and several of the friends crash the camping area. Then whatever teenagers do they do it unsupervised and blog about their camping adventure!
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:56 AM   #13
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I would say, make him 13 or even 12. That seems wreckless at that age to abandon them...but at like 15 I was going on plenty of camping scout and christian retreat overnights.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:57 AM   #14
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Okay, I'm moving down toward twelve.
Al, going back to this...
Quote:
I want the dad to be extremely irresponsible, but the story has to be believable.
...I think 12, which will make his sister only 11, is too young to make the story believable. Of course you could always go younger and change the title to "The $hitty, Totally Insane Dad Next Door".
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
I actually would make him 10 or 11 so the reader will have extra sympathy for him and especially his little sister, for whom he must stay strong and hide his own fear—it will still be believable but not a slam-dunk, like a 14 year old would be, and will underscore bad dad’s badness.

I agree make him 11 and the sister 9 .That makes him a super shitty Dad !
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:28 PM   #16
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It depends. What kind of camping are they doing? Are they going to pitch a tent in the middle of the wilderness, build a fire and eat wild berries? (Kind of sounds like it.)

Or are they going to stay in a pop-up tent trailer that gets pulled behind a vehicle and staying at a KOA campground with electrical and water hookups?
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:12 PM   #17
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Twelve ounces in a can of beer

12. Older than that and he'd be in high school.

There are millions of high-school age "latchkey kids" who are left on their own every day. They won't evoke as much sympathy/outrage as grade-school kids being put at risk.

If you make the boy younger than 12, either he'll escape the night's danger purely by chance/deus-ex-machina, or the night's danger must be so toned down that it will appear non-threatening to the reader.

Twelve also is a magic number: Twelve apostles, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Olympian gods, twelve labors of Hercules, twelve people on a jury, twelve days of Christmas, twelve months in a year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve years in the cycle of the Chinese New Year.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:19 PM   #18
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12. Older than that and he'd be in high school.
Darn few 13 year old kids in HS around here, but I suppose it varies by state.
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Of course, folks were tougher in the olden days!
Old 05-02-2019, 02:21 PM   #19
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Of course, folks were tougher in the olden days!

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Darn few 13 year old kids in HS around here, but I suppose it varies by state.
I was 13 when I started high school. A generation earlier, my mom was 12 when she started.
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:49 PM   #20
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Of course, folks were tougher in the olden days!
Careful or the Four Yorkshiremen will hear you.
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