1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Children Children's horror

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Steerpike, Oct 18, 2015.

    Finishing up a set of scary stories for kids. I'm on the second to the last one, and I have a question. All of the stories are supernatural in some way. Some scarier than others, some with some humor mixed in. I've tested them out on a few kids, and have good feedback and have revised some of the stories based on what the kids said. This one hasn't yet been read by anyone.

    In the story, the main character, an elementary school girl, becomes ill as a result of the sequence of events in the story. The illness has a supernatural cause (all of the stories are in some way supernatural), but a lot of the story tracks the girl's increasing illness. She has weight loss, hair falling out, parents worrying of course, and taking her to the doctor (who can't figure out what is wrong). The girl figures it out (she's the protagonist and learns what is happening), but of course the adults won't believe her and she deteriorates.

    I'm not too worried about the kid aspect, because in reading and telling scary stories to kid I know that the kids who like creepy stories often really want them to be creepy in some way, not just cheesy kid stories. But from a parent's perspective, I wonder if the illness is too close to home? I know when my kids were little the idea that they might get leukemia or something was one of the scariest things you could contemplate, and the course of the girl's illness in my story comes across looking a lot like a kids with cancer or some other horrible disease (though, as noted above, it's not any normal "disease" at all).

    Thoughts? If you write for kids of elementary school age, what would you say to this? If you have kids that age who want to read ghost stories and scary tales and this was one of them, what would you say to it?

    Note, there is no gore, violence, or any of that kind of stuff in the story. It's just a creepy tale of this sinister effect on the main character and how she tries to fight it.
     
  2. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    If I read your story as a child, I would never have considered leukemia. I didn't even know it was a thing until high school. I would've assumed it was the work of the supernatural cause and the cure, likewise, must be supernatural. Kids generally don't worry about getting cancer (well, from what I know of during my time as a wee lad in elementary school) unless they (god forbid) had cancer, or know/knew someone with it/had it. The worst injury I think they dread is a broken bone because that's more common for them.

    So long as you make it clear that this is a supernatural disease, that you're not trying to take leukemia and making it some fantasy illness or something, you should be fine. I have a main character who will die eventually due to a supernatural/fantastical poison that might come scarily close to stomach cancer.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yeah, me either. Like I said, I'm not worried about the kid's perspective. But parents choose what their kids read, so what I'm wondering is whether a parent would be put off by this.

    I do have a story where a kid gets a broken bone as well :)
     
  4. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well you can't really help that. Some might be put off, others might not. If I were a parent, I probably would've let my kid read it while making it clear that if he/she were disturbed by anything within, to come talk to me about it and we'd both take a look.
     
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  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Cool. I agree that all parents would approach it differently. Just curious what forumites think :)
     
  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Maybe the parents could think that it's leukemia - and have her tested for it specifically - to portray leukemia as a disease that's worrying but not fundamentally unnatural, but then the tests show that it's not leukemia in your character's specific case?
     
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  7. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    Neil Gaiman made a statement about Coraline that essentially said it was scarier for adults because of the adult fear aspect--the real horror is that bad parenting of a child could drive that child to a surrogate who offers greener grass (like a stranger with candy)--while for children it's just a fantasy adventure with some scary monsters.

    I think a story's ability to scare both children and adults, especially for different reasons, only speaks to the strengths of that story. I don't think there's anything to worry about, and honestly I think you'd be better off keeping it than making any changes.

    EDIT: Ah, didn't see the date on this one...hopefully this is still relevant! :)
     
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  8. fjm3eyes

    fjm3eyes Member

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    Children,' sorror? Well.........I guess R. L. Stein might do that. Or, Young Adult horror, anyway. Would Grimm's ferry tales fit that category?
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Yes. If you eliminate leukemia by medical tests very early--maybe even before story start--and also hint at the supernatural fairly early, then that might produce an, "Oh, OK," reaction that would defuse that fear.
     
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  10. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Impressive :)
     

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