1. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    To Scary and Smart

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by J.P.Clyde, Aug 10, 2011.

    As a kid growing up, I was the oddball. Not only was I intelligent, I was already known for having a mature personality. I have been bullied quite a bit in my time. And quite notably at thirteen I started my first story about broken relationship, which my own creative writing teacher telling this was really good at thirteen for how realistic this was. I was also the oddball child who loved horror and dark weird stories. Notably read Edgar Poe in 5th grade.

    Forever what it is worth, the mini background I gave you wasn't to brag about my achievements of intellect. It was to ask a bit of a question. Currently I am writing a novel for young readers and young adult readers, a mixture of the both. The story itself carries heavy and dark themes, such as death and demons. And is written as if it were an adult novel.

    My concern here is that, people would deem it to scary or to smart for children.

    But my issue always with young readers and young adult novels was that I always I felt insulted that the teenagers and kids were nothing like me. [this was when I was a kid]. They were written dumb and as if they lacked intelligence. They joked around a lot. Sure I wasn't super mature as I was. And yes I was naive, but not that naive.

    I am writing this novel in hopes to both change YR and YA, with a smarter more mature character and story.

    What should I do?

    Drop the subject?

    Change the rating of the novel for adult readers? Would they even want to read about the adventures of a seventeen year old?

    I know some more religious audiences wouldn't appreciate this story. One of my more religious acquaintances told me that I should stop this story as well because it was to dark. And taught kids bad habits.
     
  2. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you would've gotten along with my group of friends in school.

    If there were more YA books that could be described like this then I might have actually read more than a half dozen books in the genre. People tend to censor too much and dumb the language down in YA which is why (with the exception of a couple of books that dealt mostly with drug/alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and the occult) I dislike it as a genre.

    I'd suggest you worry about the rating once you get to the end. Write the story as you want it to be and then adapt it later if you feel you really want to target it towards younger audiences. However, even if it's aimed towards adults you'll find that you will still be getting people as young as 14/15 reading it anyway - look into fanfiction and you'll find that teens are interested in writing and reading about much darker and more mature subjects than those that make the shelves. :)
     
  3. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    My story centers around Jiles. A seventeen year old.

    It's "cutely" titled Adventures of Jiles.

    I can't ever remember the show of the three kids who go back in time through history.

    Though in this case Jiles ends up in the weird and wild world of synthax. And it's very point and click style, where he has to find out clues to find his way out of synthax. There are strange even weird imagery in there.

    The bit of bad habits comes from the fact that Jiles meets a demon. Not beautiful handsome demon with cool wings. Not even gremlin like. A demon with no face, other than one of those opera mask you hold with your hands. The wire to the mask is melted into the hands of the demon that is almost made of porcelain and clay.

    He is both Jiles friend and enemy.

     
  4. The_NeverPen
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    The_NeverPen Member

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    Assume that the story is too mature for children. Write it for mature children who like horror.
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are always teens who want to read a scary and intelligent story, and adults who enjoy a story with a young protagonist. Take Ender's Game, for example.

    Just write the way you want. Even if the potential audience is small, they'll like it more because it fits their specific taste. If you try to please everyone, you risk ending up with a wishy-washy compromise that'll disappear in a sea of similar books.

    There are lots of books which were initially written for adults, but have become classics for teens (Robinson Crusoe, The Count of Monte Christo), and even some who were written for children but have become classics for adults (Pinocchio).

    (When I say "write the way you want", I mean with respect taken to clarity and good storytelling, of course.)

    I don't know how religious the society you live in is, but if a religious group thought my book was important enough to merit a ban, I'd be flattered. If possible, you could try to have non-religious friends as backups.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    -----
     
  7. heyitsmary
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    heyitsmary Member

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    There are plenty of YA novels that portray bad habits, create controversy, and are very dark. You have to know your audience. If your protagonist is someone that teens and young adults can identify with, you've already got a great start, even if some people do ultimately deem it too dark.
     
  8. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the difference between a YA novel and a regular big boy novel. I read, "The Graveyard Book," by Neil Gaiman to my little sister and I found it strange that he was using lots of words that even I didn't know. I think what made it a children's novel was that the main character was a child, and the violence was very mild.

    I think as long as you stay away from excessive violence or sexual content you should be fine.
     
  9. Symbiot
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    Symbiot New Member

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    Write your novel the way you want to write it, don't worry about it being too dark. I assure you, there will be people that appreciate that. I read a book called Tenderness when I was in 5th grade. It had very dark things in it including necrophilia, but it was a great book and a much needed escape from the usual fluffy teen problems. Should I have been reading that sort of thing when I was so young? Probably not, but it was exactly what I needed.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Never assume you're smarter than your readers, even if your readers are kids. My parents never held me back from reading anything, and I (along with many of my friends and classmates) was reading Poe at or before fifth grade and that was fine with everybody. I was absorbed into the vortex of science fiction by the time I was ten (Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, and others) and my Dad, when he saw me reading them, was recommending Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to me before I was a teenager.

    Don't select a genre and write to what you perceive to be the standard for that genre. Write for your own reading level and maturity level, and challenge the kids to follow you. You might be surprised how many of them will, and will challenge you back!
     
  11. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    Just because portions could potentially be to smart for the intended audience does not mean they still won't comprehend the story. Just look at Rango for instance. The beginning I would imagine would be way over most childrens head but they still understand what is going on, just not the specifics. And as for horror, they wouldn't have childrens/YA horror if people did not read it in the first place. So write the story you want to write and leave it at that.
     
  12. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I understand what people are saying.

    But who really controls what children and even teenagers read? Parents.

    And that's what worries me. Is that we have this sick societal notion to shelter and hide children from the dark.

    And that could really dampen my plans for this book.
     
  13. Gryphonboy
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    Gryphonboy Member

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    Outside of a completely closed community it is unlikely that parents have any real control over what children read. Certainly not teens at any rate. I presume you are targeting your book at teens.
    Since when does society shelter kids from the dark? Have you read the Bible?
     
  14. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    Not in their eyes. The Bible teaches goodness.
     
  15. Gryphonboy
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    Gryphonboy Member

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    Mmmm, it certainly contains enough rape, murder, genocide, infanticide, slavery, sexual deviance and magik to be considered darker than most teen fantasy novels. :D
     
  16. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    It would seem to me that the issue isn't that you feel the audience would find it to dark, just that their parents may deem it so. My parents never really cared what I read as long as I was reading, and I must say I got into some naughty stuff back then... Parents don't often have a much control over what their children read as you'd think, young children yes, older kids... not so much. I guarantee you that for every person who refuses to let their child read a particular book you'll find two who will. And if you're worried about the content being too dark... well... go and get yourself a copy of some of the Animorph books, kids books can be surprisingly dark. OUt of curiosity, what is the minimum age you're aiming this book at?
     
  17. heyitsmary
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    heyitsmary Member

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    I don't think parents monitor what their children read as closely as you might think. I was raised in a very conservative Christian household but my parents never had a problem with me reading books that other equally conservative families might have deemed too dark.
     
  18. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    This. I've been reading psychological horror/thrillers, erotica and non-fiction biographies about crime & abuse since age 14~15 and my parents never tried to stop me.
     
  19. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    Book are a hard thing for parents to poilice. Most people aren't avid readers, including parents.

    It's easy to police music, because everyone's heard of eminem and all those guys that sing or rap about violence. Not only that but it comes with a big sticker that says, "THIS WILL ROT YOUR KIDS BRAIN. DON'T LET THEM LISTEN TO DEVIL MUSIC." Books don't make big splashes like that most of the time, and if they do, it's always something like harry potter or twilight.

    Same goes with movies. They have ratings. Books for the most part don't. Like I said, just don't write any graphic violence or sexual content, and I think you should be fine.
     
  20. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I don't think there really is a minimum age. As stated in the earlier introduction I was reading Illiad, Odyssey, Poe, and any book attended for an adult or teenager in 5th grade.

    Really it's for any kid who craves a new world, a fascinating world, but also a world that challenges their mind. Something I never had growing up.

    Everyone tried to stop me from reading the books for older kids in middle school. I had to start at the minimum lowest level and work my way up like everyone else. And I was bored and not being challenged.

    This is for the kids who are bored and are not being challenged.

    I use to have a friend whose parents monitored what they read. To the point where they chose the books for them.
     
  21. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    The reason I ask for the minimum intended age is that as I said earlier the younger a child the more control the parents have, an 8 year old has much less freedom than a 12 year old in terms of book choice. If you're worried as to the parents taking the book away or choosing books for the child... well that is the exception rather than the rule, for instance my parents confiscated all my warhammer rulebooks and anything with gorey artwork, but they let me read just about anything I wanted. My friends mother, who is VERY controlling about what he watches even at the age of 18 lets him read just about anything he wants, but that may be because she knows you can't stop a child from fishing a book out of the school library, or borrowing it from a friend, or purchasing and downloading an ebook, trust me, it is very difficult to get a child to not read a book they like. Personally the only issue that I can that parents might have is the 'demonic' character. But honestly, I don't think most parents are going to have an issue with your book unless it's a glorification of violence, drugs or sex aimed at a young audience. As it is, it seems to be just a relatively typical adventure story, yes it may be a little dark but as I said before kids books can be surprisingly dark and scary.
     
  22. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    There are always extreme exceptions, you know. I was reading pretty violent books in an extremely catholic school, no one bothered me.

    My dad actually encouraged it.
     
  23. proserpine
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    proserpine Member

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    I think you are thinking too little of your audience, and playing a bit too much to your own ego and perceived intelligence. If you separate yourself into a self-imposed superelite that is misunderstood and too dark/advanced/intelligent to meet their target audience, you will be limiting yourself as a writer.

    You used the wrong form of "to" in your title. It should be "too" instead of "to".

    I think you should just write your book, and let its audience find it, and not pigeonhole readers.

    Good luck with your writing. I don't mean the above to be harsh. I wanted to be truthful.
     
  24. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    As stated to someone else I have some eye issues. Sometimes words blur on light backgrounds. Also that and it was like 3am in the morning at the time.
     
  25. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I don't need a book to cater to my religious beliefs. Nor do I feel that my job as a parent is to make sure my children never encounter anything dark. Life has dark moments, and to hide these things can be just as damaging as leaving them out there all open and vulnerable to them without any tools for survival.

    My question as a parent and a teacher of adolescents would be this: Does your novel STAY dark? Does your protagonist ever find a way through the dark? Is there some kind of ray of hope anywhere, or is the moral of the tale something like--everything is dark, including us inside and we should realize that we'll be fighting against this (unsuccessfully) our whole lives?

    If that were the way your book ended up, I wouldn't really want my daughter reading it. Granted, there's only so much that you can control what your teens read, but it would be a book that I wouldn't buy for her.

    I think your question of audience is a smart one. However, I wouldn't cater to the religious crowd and get all hung up over the fact that there's a demon involved. I'd look to the greater question above and focus on what it all means. Many teens are quite smart and will be able to "get" what you're trying to say, so just make sure you say something that will help them get through life, not feel like committing suicide afterwards.
     

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