"I really still had the sixth grade kid sort of buried inside me. And I said to myself, you know, there's got to be a way that I can sort of reclaim that and tell these sorts of stories that I remember from when I was these kids' age."
— Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce in the 2010 interview (above)
One of my favorite things about Big Nate is how true to life the main character's world seems — the games, diversions, rivalries and pranks with classmates + teachers (and how quickly he moves on from them) all strike me as very authentic. Nate can be sarcastic — and I've even seen his "Oh how I hate her!" remark pop up in colleagues' twitter accounts — but unlike preteens in TV sitcoms, he never seems snarky, ironic or bitter.
One way I think Lincoln Peirce achieves this success is by writing from his own memories and experiences, as he describes above. Writing believable storylines and dialogue for a young character when you're several times his age can't be easy, but seeking to really inhabit a character instead of treating them like a puppet makes a big difference. As I get older and have kids myself, it's increasingly clear that people basically stay who they are, just in older-person-than-they-used-to-be costumes. Tapping into that inner youthful magic is easier said than done, though, and I salute Lincoln for doing such a great job day in and day out.