1. MacGuffin
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    MacGuffin Member

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    would this be too complex in a childrens story

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MacGuffin, Jul 11, 2009.

    Hi all,

    I'm writing a story aimed at kids aged between 10 - 15. On top of this I want to add other levels of meaning to this to appeal to older readers, a bit like a simpsons episode which can be enjoyed on a number of levels.

    Ok, Setting of story is world war 2 London, then Wales

    Now the there are two characters who are at the core of the story

    Character 1: outgoing, athletic, determined.... almost like a flawless super hero character.

    Character 2: The other is very flawed (in what way I am still unsure)

    The two characters are friends, they go to a private school together. As the story unfolds The first character is seen as the hero. Now the character seen as the hero dies as they watch a Boris Karloff film in a cinema. The cinema is bombed, the hero-esque character dies. The only survivor is the second character.

    The second character is wracked by guilt. Others think it would have been better if the deaths had been the other way around (actually maybe it would be better if they were brothers??????) and he feels that they're probably right.

    Now the rest of the story (which takes place in wales) I haven't decided on yet. I want to nail down the characters first.

    ANYWAY, does this sound suitable for the target audience? I'm hoping to add complexity by exploring freudian wish fullfilment, the duality of the two characters and also exploring the randomness of death in war. Would this make it too complex for kids?

    Any ideas (or suggestions of books that do something similar and aimed at similar audience) would be much appreciated.
     
  2. WritersBlock
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    WritersBlock New Member

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    I would make the target audience a bit higher, say 12-15, for those characters. I do like your idea of making them brothers. Overall, they are good ideas. For the part of the story in Wales, how about the survivor getting caught on a warship or something and finding themselves in Wales? Anyhow, good luck with your writing!
     
  3. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    If the target audience is 10-15, I'd hesitate to even call it a children's story. More like young adult.

    It's a bit of a heavy theme, but I wouldn't say the complexity itself is a problem. That's just healthy for a young mind to contemplate. Rather, you need to focus on making this story appealing to read on its own. I suspect readers in this age group typically read books to enjoy a good story first hand and to ponder deep psychological themes second hand.

    Also, keep in mind: you don't really need to make the protagonist that flawed. He just needs to be flawed compared to his companion.

    Bonus points if you use a movie that matches the theme or has symbolic significance to the story.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you don't know enough about what younger teens can understand, I would caution against writing for that age group to begin with. I know I'm making assumptions here, but I doubt you would be asking this question if you did. Not knowing what kids can handle or understand could very easily lead to underestimating them, then you could dumb down the book to meet those expectation. If you dumb it down, it won't engage them as much. The most successful books for that age group are by writers who totally get teenagers, know what they are thinking, and what they can handle. Before you write a book for that age group, get to know it better.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Wouldn't it make more sense to visit the young adults section of your local bookstore and see what the range of stories is targeted for your intended age group?
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're asking me, yes, that would be part of it.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of kids will be reading books not targeted to their age group, anyway.
     
  7. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I think your age-group range might be a little too large. 10's and 15's are very different people.

    That said, my observations are that young adults will read just about anything that catches their attention. Just because something is thick should not discourage you from writing it.

    But they are a fickle bunch, so hook them early.
     
  8. Rose
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    Rose New Member

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    i agree with Dcoin, its too wide a gap, between 10 and 15... it seems to me that ur trying to write a book for universal ages, is that what ur trying to do?
    The age of ur characters generally reflect the age of the aimed readers with kid and teen books. U should talk to some people of that age and see what they like, (not me, im not normal enough)... and find out how they would go with a story like this one.

    Ur story doesnt seem too complex so far... but u havent gotten that far in planning ur story yet

    The theme u use of 2 people one better then the other, and the better one dies, has been used many times, so when u write it, u have to find something fresh and new in it so that the readers wont get bored.

    I also agree with Cogito, u should go look at ur library, and read some books, dont just take a look at the young adult section, look at the stuff for ten year olds too, and note the differences.
     
  9. MacGuffin
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    MacGuffin Member

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    Thanks for the input guys...

    I was thinking Frankenstein for the film... duality theme and that... plus I want the second hero to dream about frankenstein's monster riding a bomb (dr.strangelove-esque) to land on his house.

    I agree 10-15 is too broad but I think I need to keep it more open until the first draft is written.

    I'm a secondary (equiv high school in US) English teacher so do work with kids of that age... but leading onto next point...

    Done. Been reading a lot of books which kids are reading today (Anthony Horowitz, Darren Shan, Eoin Colfer) but I think they are too simple and want to avoid this. Maybe they're aimed at a slightly younger readership than I'm looking to appeal to. Hmm.

    Food for though though, thanks!
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're a high school teacher, shouldn't you know what kids can handle? You have to choose books for the class to read, and you see what books they choose on their own. *is very confused*

    And those books are not aimed at younger kids necessarily. They are in the 9-12 section of my bookstore, and you said your age range is 10-15. Why do you care so much about being all deep and complex and symbolic anyway? I know its your job to make kids analyze books, but they don't care about the stuff, even if they can understand it. Besides, you'd probably be surpised by how much symbolism etc. English majors find in books that was not put there intentionally by the writers.
     
  11. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    We don't care about the books like Jekyll and Hyde, which are just boring pages of text and the odd bit of dialogue.

    They'll have a field day if my book is published...

    But, back on topic, I can guarantee that any people that age who take the time to read will understand that. Many wouldn't, but they wouldn't buy the book, so they don't matter.
     
  12. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Hey
    It sounds like an interesting plot, but I think the age group should not start at 10, maybe 12. If you are intent on keeping it interesting for younger readers, try having maybe a sub-plot thingy that would interest them, while the main plot seems like it could keep a more mature audience hooked. Also, if you want this to be something a younger audience, as well as an older one, would enjoy reading, try having your character relate to the audience on both levels, like on one hand, he/she may have some qualities a ten year old may have or be interested it, but at the same time, he/she is maturing and sees things from a maturing person's perspective.
    Hope this helps somewhat, good luck ! :)
     
  13. Wondering
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    Wondering New Member

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    I agree with jwatson. I do think that you may do better to think of a bit of an older target audience 12-15 sounds more appropriate if you are talking about death, and other heavy themes like who am i? There are quiet a lot of young adult authors who do what you are trying to achieve, keeping a younger audience interested while also capturing the older reader, think Phillip Pulman, his books are marketed at the young adult market and although there has been some debate about whether they are a bit mature for such young readers, I remember reading books that were much to mature for me as a young adult and really getting a lot out of them. Personally i think that the really great young adult fiction are ones that read when i was young, still love to pick up today, for me to read and to read to my children.

    Your idea sounds great, there are some interesting directions you can go with the idea that the 'hero' is flawed (some of the best heros are) and the synopsis is enough to make me feel interested in picking it up
     

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