Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

editing for authors ad

A publisher or agency using Google ads to solicit your novel probably isn't anyone you want to write for.


Go Back   Absolute Write Water Cooler > Discussion > Story Research: Experts and Interviewees Wanted
Register FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-26-2012, 10:30 PM   #1
WriteKnight
Arranger Of Disorder
 
WriteKnight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: 30,000 light years from Galactic Central Point.
Posts: 1,726
WriteKnight has earned our admirationWriteKnight has earned our admirationWriteKnight has earned our admirationWriteKnight has earned our admiration
Sand lot ball and dinner calls

I came of age in the sixties. “The Wonder Years” is a pretty good metaphor for my youth, followed by “That 70s Show”. My own son came of age in the early 90’s.

My WIP is a contemporary coming of age Christmas story. Principal characters are a young boy and girl aged 14 and 13. I open the story with a game of sand-lot baseball, played in a large vacant lot in the neighborhood.

It occurred to me, after re-reading the chapter, that the description of all the neighborhood kids gathered together in the lot to play ball, or dodge ball, or fly model planes – was really a childhood memory of mine. I then realized my own son also played in an undeveloped area of the neighborhood with his friends, launching model rockets, playing ‘army’, and such.

But I wonder – do kids nowadays still play ball in vacant lots? I look down my street, and see kids shooting hoops in driveways, and in the street with those moveable backstops – but we don’t have a ‘vacant lot’ around here. Is it an unrealistic image, to think of contemporary kids, in a Gulf Coast town, playing in vacant lots?

Mind you, we had little league, pony league and organized ‘summer teams’ of various sports – but neighborhood kids still played together.

Are kids now more inclined to glue themselves to the computer or TV for video games? (Yes, they’re in the story too.) I don’t want to create a ‘dated’ image for a contemporary story.

I also have a character’s mother come outside and shout her name, “Jenny… Dinner”. Again, this is a childhood memory of mine. A large neighborhood full of kids, out playing anywhere on the block; it was not uncommon to hear a mother or father go out in their yard and call their kids name. I did this for my son, in the nineties. But now kids have cell phones. Is it reasonable to hear a parent calling a child home for dinner?

Thanks in advance to any expert parents of current young teens, or young teens themselves.
WriteKnight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2012, 10:42 PM   #2
DoctorK
I'm not a Dr., I'm a baseball fan.
 
DoctorK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 144
DoctorK is well-respected
The boys will walk up to the high school and play tennis or basketball. In my old neighborhood there was a skate park for bikes and skateboards with ramps and half-pipes. Rather than the piercing whistle my mother used (which could be heard for blocks), a text or call is probably what you'd be looking at.
__________________

WIP: The Unit Moving Target, a contemporary MG mystery/thriller.


DoctorK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 12:15 AM   #3
Maryn
You, too?
AW Moderator
 
Maryn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: In Your Monitor
Posts: 29,656
Maryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Where I live (not too far from DoctorK, as far as we've determined), no kids play outside other than their yards and driveways, the schools' fields or playgrounds, or parks. None. I don't see kids playing ball or catch, riding bikes, or investigating the strip of woods. Our kids (now young adults) were mocked for exploring those woods, as a matter of fact, even though they found some pretty cool stuff and had lots of fun in there.

However, in the blue collar town not far from my white-collar suburb, the kids do play outside, loudly enough to interfere with a friend's writing. They play on the street, making way for cars that come, and in the easement by the railroad tracks at one edge of town. Games are conducted on the sidewalk of residential districts, as are tricycle rides and skating.

Other parents and I discussed this when our kids were younger. It seems the middle and upper classes are far more fearful for their children's safety than our parents were for ours. There's a far greater watchfulness as well as much more scheduling of organized activities like art and music classes, sports, etc. Some of our kids' peers had almost no unstructured time in a typical week.

When were they supposed to look at clouds and daydream, or study ants?

Maryn, waxing nostalgic
Maryn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 01:12 AM   #4
DoctorK
I'm not a Dr., I'm a baseball fan.
 
DoctorK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 144
DoctorK is well-respected
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
When were they supposed to look at clouds and daydream, or study ants?
Study? Is that what the girls did to the ants?
__________________

WIP: The Unit Moving Target, a contemporary MG mystery/thriller.


DoctorK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 01:34 AM   #5
Maryn
You, too?
AW Moderator
 
Maryn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: In Your Monitor
Posts: 29,656
Maryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsMaryn is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Yes, since the magnifying glass we took from our daddy's desk would not light them on fire.

Maryn, who also eats meat
Maryn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 02:03 AM   #6
WriteKnight
Arranger Of Disorder
 
WriteKnight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: 30,000 light years from Galactic Central Point.
Posts: 1,726
WriteKnight has earned our admirationWriteKnight has earned our admirationWriteKnight has earned our admirationWriteKnight has earned our admiration
I think you might be right Maryn. I think there's probably an element of socio-economic determination in this. Much will depend on the location of the neighborhood of course. My setting is a small coastal town in Texas. An hour from Houston. A 'bedroom' community more or less. Some kids are children of NASA engineers, some kids parents work in the oil refineries, and there's still undeveloped land and property about. Like I said, my son was still playing 'in the woods' and on vacant lots in the early nineties to mid nineties before high school. We were pretty much okay with him being on his own. Hell, we let him swim in the bay with his dog unattended. Our property fronted the water. But you're right. I think a lot of parents nowadays, who can afford to pay for organized activities, prefer to do so.
WriteKnight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 04:17 AM   #7
Stlight
ideas are floating where they will
 
Stlight's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: where you can put sugar sprinkles on lots of things
Posts: 2,108
Stlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsStlight is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
.

Some of our kids' peers had almost no unstructured time in a typical week.

When were they supposed to look at clouds and daydream, or study ants?

Maryn, waxing nostalgic
They were put in art and creative writing classes after school, but given no free time.

When were they supposed to practice writing so they could produce the novels and screen plays of the future?

It's not as though one sits in creative writing class and writes right there. At least I hope it isn't.
Stlight is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 06:04 AM   #8
jaksen
Caped Codder
 
jaksen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: In MA, USA, across from a 17th century cemetery
Posts: 4,617
jaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudgejaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudgejaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudgejaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudgejaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudgejaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudgejaksen is better than ice cream with hot fudge
I grew up the same way in the 60's, though where I lived was a lot of old farmland, wooded areas, sand quarries and the like. Also an abandoned church, an old railroad station, and so on. I was sent outside after school and told to be home by dark. (Kids didn't wear watches.) In the summer, I can vividly remember being given a bag with a peanut butter sandwich in it and, again, told to be home by dark. But I also had relatives on every street and my parents knew everyone in the neighborhood.

As for sand lot baseball, in my neighborhood it was kickball and games of 'war,' just a generic sort of game where you'd run around and (pretend to) shoot each other, running through backyards, over stone walls and through fields where some people kept a horse or two or some cows. Every kid could ride a bike, swim and climb trees.

I tell my kids all this and they're horrified, but kids hung out in 'packs' and the older ones looked after the younger ones. If there was a weird guy driving around in a truck bothering anyone - well, some grownup would get their rifle and scare him off.

Those of us who grew up this way ought to write about it. In many parts of the country it's a way of life which is virtually non-existent.
__________________
Latest story in December 2013 issue of EQMM.

Eeyore was saying to himself, “This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.” A.A. Milne
jaksen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 06:47 AM   #9
thothguard51
A Gentleman of a refined age...
 
thothguard51's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Out side the beltway...
Posts: 9,083
thothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsthothguard51 is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
I was a product of the fifties and sixties and I can say that my parents let us kids be more adventurist than parents today. My sister and I have talked about this many times and thank our parents for not hovering over us...

While my kids grew up I had to constantly tell my wife to stop hovering so much and let the kids experiment. Did they get hurt a few times, yes, just like I did. Kids have to learn their limits in my opinion and today both of mine are fine adults with wonderful kids of their own.

My kids though are very conservative about letting their kids explore because they say its a different time and a different environment. I have to agree with their sentiments but still feel they are depriving their kids of that feeling of youthful adventure. After all, once we are adults there are no more youthful adventures...
__________________
Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

Currently working on...

From, The Tales of Netherron,
Book 1, A Game of Pawns
Book 2, Pawn takes Queen,
Book 3, Pawn's Gambit,

In the pipeline,
Children of Netherron, follow up trilogy
Guardians of Netherron, prequel trilogy

http://nickanthony51.wordpress.com (on hiatus)

Nick Anthony
thothguard51 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
Captcha
Hmmm... I think I disagree.
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,732
Captcha has a double-platinum reputationCaptcha has a double-platinum reputationCaptcha has a double-platinum reputationCaptcha has a double-platinum reputationCaptcha has a double-platinum reputationCaptcha has a double-platinum reputationCaptcha has a double-platinum reputation
My brother and sister-in-law recently moved their two kids (7 and 9) from one middle-class residential neighbourhood to another slightly-more-expensive middle-class residential neighbourhood. I thought they were crazy to have gone to the trouble, having the kids switch schools mid-year, etc. Actually, what I thought is that they were being racist, because the old neighbourhood had a lot of recent immigrants of colour, and the new neigbhourhood, while not a whole lot ritzier, was in a suburb with a reputation for being much 'whiter'.

In the new place, there were kids EVERYWHERE. I had to drive about 5km an hour for the last five or six blocks, because every time I turned around there were kids riding their bikes, kids playing street hockey, kids throwing balls from one front lawn to another, kids skipping... kids, kids, kids. In the old neighbourhood, where there were enough kids to support a bursting-at-the-seams public school, I never saw any.

Part of it was the geographic layout. In the new neighbourhood, the houses had tiny backyards, but larger front yards. The backyards were fenced, but rarely used, because the kids were out front. But part of it was just the culture of the place. Honestly, my stereotypes would have put things the other way around, with the recent immigrants, not used to our uptight Canadian ways, being more relaxed with their kids, but that's not the way it was here.

Might have been because the immigrants were coming from several different countries and cultures, so it's not like there was an instant sense of community for them. The new neighbourhood is much more homogeneous, and maybe that creates a comfort level.

But I've been in other homogeneous neighbourhoods that didn't have the same kid-friendly, let-them-roam vibe. As far as I can tell, the culture of this neighbourhood just developed that way. My sister-in-law, who was quite controlling in the old house, took about a week before she was just opening the door and letting the kids free. If she wants one of them, she yells out the front door, and if they don't come, she stands there for a couple minutes and tells every kid who goes by to send her kids home when they're seen. It works. And I love seeing it. I think the kids are getting a much happier, freer childhood this way. I guess there's a SLIGHT increase in risk, but the stats show that stranger-danger is greatly overestimated in our society, and the kids are well street-proofed. And they travel in a pack, which adds some safety. Better this than sitting around playing video games and developing obesity or diabetes, I say.

No vacant lots in the neighbourhood, but there's a good kid-friendly park half-way down the block. Many games played there.

So, TLDR: I think it's possible that you could still find somewhere with that level of freedom, but you might want to comment on it in the narrative, just to make it clear you don't think it's totally standard anymore.
Captcha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2012, 04:03 PM   #11
shaldna
The cake is a lie. But still cake.
 
shaldna's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Belfast
Posts: 7,393
shaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsshaldna is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
When I was a kid we were allowed to run wild basically. It was the 80's and we were a working class family. At 10 I was allowed to walk the mile to the swimming pool with my friends, or go to the shop on my own, walk home from school etc. When playing we would frequently leave the house after breakfast and not be seen until someone shouted on us for our next meal. Often we played far away from the house, in the woods or the park or whatever.

These days I don't let my daughter play anywhere that I can't see her. If she goes to play with in a friends house or backgarden (no one plays in the front garden) then I either take her there, or I watch until she is inside the house.

I think it's a product of growing up at a time when there was an increased awareness of the things that could potentially happen to a child - there were a couple of well documented child abduction and murder stories when we were kids that really shook up everyone who lived near us.

I think it's part of that fear thing. So folks don't seem to let their kids play in the same way as they did.
__________________
TORCHWOOD - where the slash is canon

Yes, I read Twilight. Yes, I hate it. No, I don't have to give you a reason why.





shaldna is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Custom Search

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)


All times are GMT +4.5. The time now is 10:08 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.