1. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    Talking animal characters and seirous issues....questions reguarding an odd concept.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Crimson Dragon, Apr 29, 2013.

    I have many world and story ideas, but one of them which I have recently been working a lot on takes place in a setting populated entirely by talking magical creatures. There is not a single human in the setting. Yet, the story is in no way aimed at small children. The reason? The story tackles some very serious issues and is more akin to a fantasy animal farm then something like Arthur. Yes, it has cute animal characters, but it uses these characters to deliver a story about a world wracked by genocide, apartheid and environmental degradation. Even further the setting is the way it is because it essentially has been colonized by an imperialistic force that bears resemblance to historic imperial powers. It isn't totally happy, yet at the same time it is not written to be extremely dark either. While it deals with serious issues it does it in a way that is not crushingly depressing. The story has humor and actually can be quite light-hearted at times. It was inspired by many 90s cartoons which could be silly and fun at one point yet very dark and serious in another.

    So, this brings up my questions. This story is not aimed at very young children, but is also not aimed at adults. The main characters are young(like in there low teens.) and the story is not meant to be like the aforementioned animal farm. It's meant to put serious world issues both historical and current in a package that younger readers can handle and understand. Simply put, it's making rather dark real world topics "friendly" for readers while not babying them. It also may appeal to teens, though I am not 100% on this one. Anyway, my main question is if the issues the story covers are "too dark" for the audience the story would generally appeal to? Further, should I focus the story to an older audience, bumping up the ages of the characters and shifting it more to older teens ect..?

    Any thoughts and opinions on "dark" elements in stories aimed at older children/younger teens would be appreciated.
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Remember Animal Farm did a similar thing to your idea, so you can take comfort in the fact that it's been done before and therfore able to be sold, although still make it original. Regarding whether it's appropriate, just remember that kids are generally tougher these days: video games, books, and films have attempted to 'up it's game' every year, and so teenagers are used to dealing with darker situations, and I think they should be told these things at around that time, anyway. Try to make it less 'dark' by adding comedy, although having the characters as animals helps as well.

    Hopefully that was constructive to you. :)
     
  3. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    Yeah, helped a bit. I am not aiming at teens per-say, mostly younger teens and older children. Around the same age group stuff like Goosebumps and Animorphs where aimed at back in the day. As for the characters themselves they are mostly more colorful/fantastical versions of earth animals, mainly cats and dogs. Some of them even are based on several earth animals combined into one, and many of the creatures could be said to resemble pokemon. The villains/colonizing force however, are dragons and their underlings the draganoids.(which are basically wingless dragons who are viewed as inferior to dragons but superior to the natives of the setting.) The story is based on both historical and modern issues and some of the actions by the villains bear striking resemblance to the practices of Israel towards the Palestinians.(which was in fact intentional.) It also deals with environmental issues, and the reason the dragons even colonized the world in the first place was to use it's magical animal natives as an energy source; a process that kills them once all the magic has been drained from their bodies.(In other words, they are powering their machines via genocide.) So yeah, unlike animal farm I am not focusing on one historic or modern example but more then one, drawing from South Africa, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and modern environmental concerns all at the same time.

    But anyway, yeah...there is a precedent with animal farm, so it's not like my idea is totally untested. It's just I'm making it more fantastic and aiming at a different audience.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    How does it compare to Watership Down? I think it is aimed at teens, although it involves real world analogies and talking rabbits.
     
  5. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    I can't comment on that because I've never read that series. I've heard of it and may in fact read it someday but for now I know little about it and therefore am unable to make an intelligent comparison.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not a series, but a single book.
     
  7. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yeah, I was thinking Watership Down and Animal Farm too. But if we stick with Richard Adams he also wrote The Plague Dogs which is in my view the best of his books, and it deals with some horrible themes. Probably so horrible that if we were talking about people we'd have a mass revulsion problem. And Shardik wasn't exactly shy of confronting the uncomfortable either, though in a more simple minded, and no talking animals kind of way.

    I think though, the thing you have to be clear on in writing this is looking at why you're writing this story. Is it because you like the story, or is it because there is a message you want to get across. George was not really writing about animals, he was writing about politics and dressing up his players as animals as a sort of analogy for different groups of people.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Look what adults can learn from Dr Seuss books like The Sneetches and The Butter Battle Book
     

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