1. Vacuum Eater
    Offline

    Vacuum Eater Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    1

    Why Are Parents Unpopular?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Vacuum Eater, Mar 4, 2011.

    Especially in fantasy and science fiction. You'll have the bunch of friends (usually a trio) that stick together through thick and thin, but the parents (and often other blood relatives) are either irrelevant, evil, dead, or scheduled to die soon. Not to mention that a hero/heroine that is himself/herself a parent is an uncommon occurrence. . .
     
  2. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Well typically, fantasy heroes/heroines go on a quest of some kind, which would be really hard and complicated if they had a little kid tagging along. I mean imagine if one of the LOTR nine had a kid who they had to protect and feed and stuff...it just wouldn't work, you know? That answers your second question.
     
  3. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    In addition to what Mallory said, having the MC be an outcast from his family or an orphan draws sympathy from the reader, which is a quick way to make them bond with the MC.
     
  4. guamyankee
    Offline

    guamyankee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Messages:
    474
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Tacoma, Washington
    Cause saving the planet in a minivan just isn't that cool?
     
  5. joelpatterson
    Offline

    joelpatterson Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    6
    You got to imagine the Bat-minivan-mobile, though....

    Parents tend to get stuck representing society's compromises and accommodations... hypocrisies?... you don't want bold, heroic, risk-taking parents, not on a school night, anyway.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. evelon
    Offline

    evelon Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    613
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    England

    If there were parents on the scene, the bunch of friends wouldn't have the freedom to go forth and save the planet. They would never have been allowed to get themselves into the difficulties they do.

    There are times when parents are not only irrelevant, but totally destuctive to the whole concept of a plot.

    Having said that, have you seen The Invincibles? That's about a family of super heroes (I think). I've only seen it in bits - there's only so much you can stand! But I'm pretty sure there mum, dad and several kids involved.

    The point about parent heroes - have to tell you - we're everywhere!
     
  7. joelpatterson
    Offline

    joelpatterson Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    6
    "Parents are only heroic to themselves."

    -- someone, Samuel Johnson maybe?
     
  8. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    This thread has suddenly made me resolved to have parents as the heroes of my next story.
     
  9. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    Like others have said with my fantasy books I needed parents out of the way so my MC could become king, so his sister poisoned his mother when the sister was eleven then nearly twenty years later she shot his father. With Gus and Iris I needed them to have their grandson living with them - so needed to kill off his parents. However Gus has a son from a previous marriage so is a parent.

    I have lots of great parents of all descriptions in my book. In my next Angus and Beatrice book they will be parents.
     
  10. Lothgar
    Offline

    Lothgar Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2010
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    37
    Parents cramp your style, make you look uncool and are basically a drag. They get all preachy, ramble on about "family values" and stuff, and just don't understand the all encompassing importance of updating my facebook page to reflect my current mood...like, for real...don't they realize the socio-cultural ramifications of what will happen if I don't update my facebook page every hour...we're talking the end of the world dude. They are only good for a quick bit o' cash and the keys to the car.

    Bah, them young whipper snappers today don't know what's good fer um. When they stopped beatin' the kids at the drop of a hat and started to glue them cell phones to their ears, it all went down hill. Just looky at em', teenagers and college kids, never had a real job that didn't involve french fries in their life, never been anywhere, never seen anything, and somehow, they think they are smart enough to solve all the problems of a world that has endured thousands of years of wars, plagues, famine, holocausts, tyrants, the black death, economic collapses, droughts, religious zealotry, superstitious hysteria, slavery and the horror of boy bands. Them dad blame kids don't know squat, but they think they are genieus...er...jenyus...um...really smart, but they will learn the hard way when they git outta school and enter the real world.

    ********

    I think its a marketing thing. The target demographic for most fiction is the younger generation, so the young, heroic figure steps out on his own and saves the world. It is a main character that the younger crowd can identify with and lets face it, wars, adventure and risk taking is the job of the young and able bodied, not grampa and his walking stick (Gramps is the one who told you all the heroic tales of what he did in his youth, while sitting around the fire and inspired the MC to go out and experience the joys of high adventure [like marching for days on little to no food, sleeping out in the cold, freezing rain, running out of bathroom tissue 500 miles from anywhere, realizing that you are out of ammo, just as a monster comes over the hilltop, etc.]).
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. Smoke
    Offline

    Smoke Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2011
    Messages:
    298
    Likes Received:
    6
    Parent / child relationships are hard. I think there are probably a lot of stories where the parent doesn't need to be dead, just far enough away to be irrelevant.

    I don't come in to my own unless I'm living apart from my parents. I spent over a month living with my mom recently, and I completely forgot my food-rotation scheme that allowed me to cook only once every three days.
     
  12. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    I think it largely depends on the audience that you're writing for. If your work is intended for a younger audience who have no knowledge or experience of what it's like to be older or to be a parent, then they are unlikely to empathise with a main character who is a parent.

    I'm a parent, four times over, from two relationships, and my oldest son is probably older than many of you who will read this (he is approaching 21). In my first self-published novel, parenthood wasn't really a big issue, because it had many important characters, only one of whom was a parent. However, in the follow-up that I'm working on right now, the threat to a child is the chief motivation for the main character, who is a parent.

    It's very difficult to persuade young people that parents, or older people generally, are cool. But they can be - it's just that you won't recognise this fact until you get there yourself, by which time you'll be too old to convince younger people of it! ;)
     
  13. Eunoia
    Offline

    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    England
    I think it's mainly to do with audience. If it's for children, then they won't know what it's like to be a parent and they often think parents are evil etc. If it's for adults, well, I don't know, I'm not a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan, but I guess it's the innocence of children and how parents often get in the way of them doing things e.g. parents won't let children do things if it's dangerous etc.
     
  14. Leonardo Pisano
    Offline

    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    13
    Parents-children relationship usually evolves through a number of stadia. Bottom line is: what age groups are the children in and how did they enter the next phase.
     
  15. Ice Queen
    Offline

    Ice Queen Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2011
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Scotland
    Funny this topic should come up, actually :D I've also noticed that a lot of Sci-Fi/Fantasy seems to be populated by orphans, those with neglectful/evil parents etc etc. I can't say I think it's necessarily bad. But I think there's ways to get parents and family into important roles in the story. My current one actually has family playing an incredibly important role. One MCs parents died when he was young, but that made the Grandpa who raised him incredibly important to the story (even though he dies too... LOL). With one of the other MCs, her parentage is actually central to the story- her dad ends up being one of the most significant chars. (Also her brother).
     
  16. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Yeah, parents don't get much of a look-in with fantasy--or in romantic novels often, either. That trying to get sympathy, 'all alone in the world' idea again. They make up for it in dramas, though.
    I've just realised that E Nesbit's classic books have mothers pushed to the sidelines in the fantasies, like '5 Children and it', but the mother is a compelling and important character in 'The railway children'. Funny, that.
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    I think there's some Freudian theory about this with all the pushing away of the parent figure, or killing them or whatever, so that the youth can develop. It's a storyline that everyone has to go through or something blah blah metaphorical journeys...

    baseline is, it's the most successful pattern for a story, and on terms of a writing level often whether you want to express it or not, a story won't appear if the child remains safe and coddled with their parents.

    There ARE a lot of great stories WITH parents, but often they will include plenty of tension with the parents, at least expressing some of the sadness of growing up, if not deeper tensions.

    It's something we all go through or will go through, is the point.
     
  18. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    If the story involves a coming-of-age element then the protagonist has to cut loose from their parents. But not all fantasy follows that pattern. In the TV series Eureka (UK: A Town Called Eureka) the relationship between the marshal and his daughter is a major theme, and in Buffy the Vampire Slayer the dynamic between Joyce and Buffy was important. And when Joyce did die, Buffy ended up in loco parentis for Dawn. And, of course, much science fiction and fantasy involves mature protagonists who leave any children with an alternative care giver much as I left my kids with my wife when I went on business trips.
     
  19. FictionAddict
    Offline

    FictionAddict Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2011
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    I'm from Holland
    Whipping the parents off from the face of the earth creates conflict and that's the main catalyst to all the adventures to start.
     
  20. poptarts
    Offline

    poptarts Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    this is only in juvenile fiction, though?

    i was rereading a series i used to read in third grade, and i found it rather unbelievable that the main characters could do all the things they do when they're barely in their teens. when i was younger i bought it, though--back then even a thirteen-year-old seemed old and mature to me.

    ideally i like to have a reliable adult to at least hover in the background, but i can see why having two responsible parents around could be a hassle when you're trying to get the non-adult main character to do things on his/her own and stand out from the crowd.
     
  21. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    The Hardy Boys have parents they interact positively with - Nancy Drew has a good relationship with her father. Horrid Henry has decent enough parents although they do cause a lot of the conflict. I am sure there are others lol
     
  22. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Also sometimes the parent is in some kind of trouble and the kid has to save him/her.
     
  23. SeverinR
    Offline

    SeverinR Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Madison Ohio
    love it
    could work.

    I just picture a masculine Conan the barbarian strutting out towards an epic battle, massive sword in hand, and then you hear a whiny voice calling to him...
    "Honey, did you put on clean underwear? I need the garbage taken out....":eek:
    ah, Mom, I'm going to slaughter the invaders, get Timmy to take out the trash..."
    :p

    Parents and family tend to hold back the action, or provide the villian or sub-villian of a story.
     
  24. RightBastardWriter
    Offline

    RightBastardWriter Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Kind of a sweeping generalization to make about fantasy and SF, isn't it?

    And are you referring strictly to YA fantasy and SF? Or to all fantasy and SF?

    The Lady Jessica was neither irrelevant, evil, dead, or scheduled to die anytime soon in Dune. I supposed you could count being thrown into the desert to die. But Paul was there, too.
     
  25. Trilby
    Offline

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    NE England
    Unless parents are an integral part of the story, they are unnecessary and therefore should be left out of it.
     

Share This Page