1. Salt
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    Salt New Member

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    A to B - children's horror

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Salt, Feb 27, 2012.

    So, for nostalgic reasons, I had a look over Rhoald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the other day, and I always forget how dark it actually is! Anyway, it inspired me to give children's horror a whirl (even though it's not strictly Mr. Dahl's genre).

    My premise is that Jack, twenty years ago, faced with his parents' divorce and having to leave his childhood home, meets a genie, and wishes for two things: that his parents can never leave him, and that he never has to leave his home (he's saving his third wish for later). The upshot of this means his parents are frozen like statues in his house, and he's frozen as a ten year-old boy, and it's been that way for twenty years. Naturally, he's the antagonist, or threat of sorts - a creepy concept, I think, for anybody, particularly a child. If you then add a sinister unkempt house for him to live in, and then the genie screaming from inside a cupboard or something, it could genuinely be quite scary.
    The problem is, the antagonist has to antagonise somebody. I have my protagonist, Alex, mostly sorted, with all the traits he'd need for this kind of story (bravery, curiosity, etc), but I just can't seem to join the dots, and get an actual story out of this - how on earth should Alex meet somebody hiding out in an out-of-the-way cottage? Hopefully, by having shared experiences r/e homelife, Alex and Jack should be able to establish an uneasy friendship of sorts (hopefully the reader should be seduced by a Peter Pan parentless life, amid the horror) - but where is the threat?

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    Thanks for your help,
    -S
  2. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Member

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    This will actually depend on how you tell the scary stuff. It might be tough even if it's just for children. This new generation fears much less than we used to do when we were young.

    If Jack has lived with frozen parents and free-to-roam house for 20 years he might have gone high-wire and lost part of his marbles. You can use this to make him an antagonist disguised as an allay when he meets Alex, then you take it from there.

    You might want to make the Genie a threat, what about the third wish? Is it okay for jack to delay it for so long? What if a different Genie comes a long the way and causes trouble? If Jack's Genie was a good one, maybe this new one is evil and mischievous? Maybe his parents will become something scary for being frozen for 20 years? Maybe a curious magician visits town and tries to disturb Jack's peaceful and creepy life? Maybe the other genie will threaten jack's parents safety or might steal them?

    There are many possibilities, let your imagination loose.

    Have to add that this sort of reminds me of Alice in wonder land but the evil version, I'm not sure many of you played that game. It's creepy!
  3. Three
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    Easy. Alex is curious? Alex likes to explore. Done. I dunno about you, but if I was walking around the woods and saw a creepy abandoned house I'd totaly go check it out, even as a (relativly) sensable adult.

    Is it really important that Jack has one wish left? You'd think he'd wish for things to be back to normal. Maybe he as to get Alex to wish for him. Or maybe (the creepier way) genies don't do take-backs without a soul sacrifice, so Jack has to go through a big rigamarole to get Alex to trust him so he can spring his trap. C:< I read a wonderful kids novel once, gloriously creepy, where a stranger came to town and started collecting children's souls in the form of butterflies. It was awesome. (If anybody knows the name of it, please speak up. I've been trying to find it for a long time.)

    This sounds like an awesome plot! Please post at least an excerpt - I'd love to read it when you're done. :)
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Senior Member Contributor

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    Ah--The Monkey's Paw.
    It's common for kids to think that they've caused their parents to divorce, and they need to do something to make up for it, so this concept is not very marketable or acceptable to parents for a children's story.
    Also, you have no plot as such--you just have the initial situation. Ok, the story starts--a family 'frozen' in time (not sure exactly what you mean by frozen. You seem to say the parents are literally stuck as statues, but the boy grows older, trapped in a ten-year-old's body???).
    Then what? Not only is there no threat, there isn't any anything.
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    This was exactly what I was thinking. If you really need that third wish, introduce a clause to explain away the plothole: for example, maybe there's a rule that you can't use a wish to undo another wish.

    As for how Alex would meet Jack, I don't think it would be that hard. Jack has no parents or anyone else watching him, so he's free to go wherever he likes. Surely after 20 years he'd figure out how to use the bus system, hitch rides on the backs of trains, etc. to get to cities and other places.

    Not sure exactly how he'd antagonize Alex, though. In what way is he an antagonist - what does Alex want/need, and how is Jack standing in his way? From what you've described, Jack is the one who has obstacles stacked up against him and plenty of antagonistic forces of his own. Can you provide more info?
  6. Afion
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    Afion New Member

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    Don't fall into the 'just for children' trap! Children's fiction needs just as much work as adult's fiction. Children's horror should be scary, but the protaganist should survive. :)
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    This. Don't overly dumb down kids' stories. Kids like to be scared. Obviously there shouldn't be gory violence or anything, but kids LOVE the threat of creepy monsters in their stories. At least I did when I was a little kid.
  8. BlizzardHarlequin
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    BlizzardHarlequin New Member

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    I think that children's stories aren't supposed to go TOO far over the edge with the scare-factor. But as being a teenager I have fond memories of scary stories with puppets from my school. :3
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