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  1. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    What is "too scary"?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by pokemonfan13, Sep 27, 2011.

    I have an idea that might work well as a story for preteens to early teens since the protagonist would be around that age. However, the basic premise leads to it being a bit of a horror story. My main question is how scary is too scary for that age range? Obviously truly graphic gore is out, but I find it hard to figure out what the right balance would be to be scary, not terrifying or boring.

    Maybe there are some horror/scary books targeted to that age range that I could read for examples?

    The protagonist would probably be male.

    I can give basics of the idea if it helps with answers.
     
  2. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    That would help if you are looking for advice on your idea specifically.

    As for examples, try Camp Zombie, Fear Street or Goosebumps. I'll try to post more recommendations if I can find them, but those three series should be a good start. Camp Zombie scared the life out of me back when I was 11.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should do your homework and check out what books for that age range do and don't include... you can do that easily enough at any sizable book store, the library, or on amazon...
     
  4. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    The idea is based on a dream I had so it is a bit strange on first look, but I think it can be made into an interesting story.

    In the story world there is a parallel world/dimension that is only barely separated from ours. The inhabitants of this world live by sapping energy from the living beings of ours. One occasionally is able to squeeze through a temporary weak point in the barrier between worlds and take up residence in ours (they are the reason behind ghost/posession/demon myths). This happens when a group of the demons is draining energy from a newborn human baby (humans have the most energy) to the point where the baby is close to death. This sustained draining sometimes creates a crack that one the demons can slip through and enter the baby. Because the demon is not free to move around from person to person in our world it cannot continue to drain the child because if the child dies it dies. Instead it switches to draining the people around the child and uses the child's body as storage for the energy it obtains, causing a somewhat symbiotic relationship. In our world it has access to much more energy than it does in its own, since only a trickle can cross the barrier, and because it does not have the restraint to only take the amount of energy it needs to survive in a static form it ends up growing and therefore needing more energy. Eventually it gets to the point where passive draining of those surrounding the child isn't enough, especially in times when the child has less contact with others (such as the summer compared to the entire school population when he is going to school). This is roughly where the story starts. The demon takes over the child's body when it is starved for energy and goes after the richest store of energy in the human body: blood. (there is most likely a physical monstrous transformation when this happens).

    The story itself is mainly the sudden start to strange deaths of children in the community (children have the most energy because it is going to growth of their bodies and their higher activity levels). It increases in frequency as the demon grows more and more from the richer energy supply. The story follows the fear and increasing uncertainty of the child as he begins to wonder if somehow he is causing all this grief and terror of his community. His parents will probably decide to take the family on a summer vacation to escape the situation at home temporarily, but the deaths follow them. One scary moment I can have in the book is the child's "discovery" of one of the dead bodies when the demon releases its hold before getting away from the scene, and along with the memory blanks the possession causes are what cause him to be worried that he is doing it. As the story progresses he also becomes more aware of the demon and even has a dreamlike awareness of what is happening while the demon is in control. I think the climax would probably be when the demon targets the child's sibling and the child fights for control to protect his family.
     
  5. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lots of children dying tends to be a no-no for YA. For the rest it's all well within what could have happened in Buffy, which was pretty much aimed at YA.
     
  6. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Hmnmm, sounds like something I'd like to read! It does sound a bit too scary for anyone younger than around 12 or so, but that might be the 'coddle the young' mindset of mine kicking in.
     
  7. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    Most of the deaths are not graphically portrayed and aren't kids he knows particularly well. They might go to the same school, but he probably wouldn't even recognize them.

    The main reason I thought I might want to target a younger audience is that the main character would be in that age range himself, which tends to be a prerequisite for fiction targeted to that age range.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'm working on a series of scary stories for kids, targeted at age 8 through 10 or so, and in most of the stories the child who is the main character dies. I remember reading "scary" stories as a kid and thinking they were all stupid and not scary at all. My daughter had the same complaint. So I set out to write some that really are scary. The stories aren't going to have any kind of gore or graphic violence or anything, but they're very creepy overall and the kids in them tend not to survive. I don't see an issue with it. Make them as scary as you want - kids don't like to be treated like imbeciles who can't handle anything :)
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    An interesting idea. Conventional wisdom, to me, would have suggested that a "happy ending" so to speak would be more of a requirement for children's horror.

    I can absolutely understand this, though. This is why I was reading grown up books at the age of about 10. Most children's books just patronised me too much.
     
  10. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    I'm 14, and read horror regularly, its a good adrenaline rush. I think if you aimed around ya or mid teens 15-16, you should be fine, we like this stuff. As flash said, try out goosebumps. You may not like it, but you will receive a good, beneficial learn for your genre.
     
  11. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    My main problem is that I have no clue how to finish it. It has to end in some sort of conclusion, but the demon and the child were bonded when the demon entered him as a baby, and that bond has only grown stronger as the demon grew. It seems to me like a really cheesy ending for him to somehow break the bond and kill the demon, leaving him alive and well. However, the only other endings I can think of are that the demon takes full control and goes on a rampage, eventually being killed by police, or that the boy eventually realizes that he is, or at least the demon permanently bonded to him is, the cause of the deaths and kills himself and therefore the demon to prevent any more harm from being done.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Banzai - yeah, I'll see how it goes over, I guess. May go over like a lead zeppelin. Of course, if it goes over like THE Led Zeppelin, I'll be quite pleased :)
     
  13. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    Well, I guess there is the option where the two do literally become one and the boy is able to exert some control over the demon side. It would still need a significant amount of blood though, so I'm not sure how exactly that would work well either...

    Tried to edit this into my post above but the stupid thing wouldn't let me... I click the "edit" button after I'm done editing and it doesn't update the post.
     
  14. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    Can I please have some help? I can't really do anything with the story if I'm totally stuck on the ending...
     
  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Don't worry about it being too scary. Kids and young teens LIKE being scared. When I first learned to read, my favorite books were the Goosebumps books (which are kind of scary when you're 6), and I read them all by myself in the dark with flashlights. I agree with Steerpike.

    Seems like you have a great idea for an ending already. Another idea I'd suggest is that perhaps, there could be some deep dark secret: say, a locked room that your MC dreams of more and more vividly, but never learns what's inside it until he must go there for a once-and-for-all confrontation.

    Don't end with the cops killing the demon. Make your MC the hero. Put the victory in his hands.
     
  16. pokemonfan13
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    pokemonfan13 New Member

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    That's the climax, it would still need some wrapping up after, and that's where I've got problems. The ones I can think of all seem like they wouldn't be that great for one reason or another.

    I get that the ideal ending is one where the kid defeats the demon somehow and kills it, but at the same time it seems rather...predictable. But I can't think of any semi-positive endings that wouldn't have some sort of severe problem, such as the two merging so the kid keeps the demon under control, but the demon would still need blood and at a similar rate to before, which isn't going to be unnoticed.

    At this point the best one in my mind is the suicide ending, but I can't believe that would go over well with the parents, even if the character is sacrificing himself to prevent the gruesome deaths of many others...
     

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