Max van Duijn


Looking from the Inside: How Children Render Character’s Perspectives in Freely Told Fantasy Stories
Max van Duijn | Bram van Dijk | Marco Spruit
Proceedings of the 4th Workshop of Narrative Understanding (WNU2022)

Story characters not only perform actions, they typically also perceive, feel, think, and communicate. Here we are interested in how children render characters’ perspectives when freely telling a fantasy story. Drawing on a sample of 150 narratives elicited from Dutch children aged 4-12, we provide an inventory of 750 instances of character-perspective representation (CPR), distinguishing fourteen different types. Firstly, we observe that character perspectives are ubiquitous in freely told children’s stories and take more varied forms than traditional frameworks can accommodate. Secondly, we discuss variation in the use of different types of CPR across age groups, finding that character perspectives are being fleshed out in more advanced and diverse ways as children grow older. Thirdly, we explore whether such variation can be meaningfully linked to automatically extracted linguistic features, thereby probing the potential for using automated tools from NLP to extract and classify character perspectives in children’s stories.