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  1. ToeKneeBlack

    ToeKneeBlack Banned

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    Too Dark for Children's Fiction?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ToeKneeBlack, Sep 15, 2016.

    I've been told my series isn't quite Young Adult, since my characters are too young. In the first two books, the main characters were 12-14.

    In this entry, the third in the series, they're now 14-16. I'm introducing a new character - a 14 year old girl, who can look into a person's deepest fears and make them visible as a hallucination.

    The following chapter is just an outline, but I'm wondering - is it too dark for my 12-16+ target audience?

    Chapter 1: Home of the Witch
    Two men pull up to a run-down house.
    One of them says the place gives him the chills.
    The other tells him to "man-up". They cross the garden and enter the unlocked door.
    The two of them hear something, but see nothing.
    "Hello!" They turn and see a 14 year old girl wearing sun glasses - indoors and at night.
    Nestled in her hair is a small cat.
    The nervous one asks if she followed them in - she says she lives here.
    The other man says "not for much longer." He pulls a gun, but she calmly pushes the barrel to one side and says it isn't loaded.
    "Really?" he asks. He points it at the ceiling and pulls the trigger - it clicks.
    Confused, he checks the magazine - empty!
    She laughs at him. The other asks why she's wearing sun glasses.
    She lifts the glasses to reveal dull, almost lifeless eyes.
    The confident man says she won't see what he's about to do to her, but she catches his hand.
    He smiles awkwardly.
    The nervous one says they don't have time for this; the boss is looking for a new hide-out.
    The confident one tells the other to wait in the van.
    The girl says the confident one is sick - Mr nervous doesn't want to catch what he's got.
    The confident one says "What's the diagnosis, nurse?" He smiles the whole time.
    The girl says "I don't know what it's called, but you're sick enough to imagine this."
    In the blink of an eye, her fingernails become foot-long razors, her hair turns to fire and she grows to over 8 feet tall with glowing red eyes and vicious looking teeth.
    The nervous one flees.
    The confident one tries to follow, but finds his hand caught in her iron grip.
    "Feeding time, Muffin," she says, before the cat leaps from her hair, turning into a lioness as it lands behind the quivering man.
    He begs for his life, but she says, "Leave this place, and tell your boss he's not welcome."
    She releases him and he escapes, barely an inch ahead of the lioness.
    The van screeches away as the girl approaches the door. "You forgot your gun," she laughs.
    The cat looks up and leaps onto her mistress' lowered hand, climbs up her arm and nestles in her hair.
    "Good Muffin," she says softly as the cat purrs contently in her hair.

    Is the confident man too creepy?
    Is the hallucination too demonic?
    It's revealed in a later chapter that the gun was loaded (someone asks about the hole in the ceiling). Also her own eyes and ears don't work, but she can experience almost all of the senses of most other people and animals nearby, which is why she keeps the cat in her hair. She can also manipulate what others experience, but if there's nobody in range she's effectively deaf and blind.
     
    cydney likes this.
  2. Infel

    Infel Contributing Member

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    Its creepy, certainly. I think its a really good looking outline. I don't think its TOO creepy for your target audience because:

    a) Nobody dies
    b) Nobody gets graphically or violently disemboweled (which I half expected)

    I WOULD say the line about doing something to her is too much for a 12 year old. That's still junior high--we don't need them asking mom and dad about what the guy that almost got his guts slashed open meant by it. Especially if the reader is a 12 year old girl.

    Just my thoughts! Good looking outline though. Hope it turns out well.
     
  3. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    The idea of someone pointing a gun at a child at point blank range, just the idea of it, as well as the implied intended sexual assault of a child are far too horrific. The tone of the dialogue, and I suspect the writing style, is so disproportionate to those things.

    The villains need to be/represent things children can relate to as well. The girl becoming a monster, I love. That's fine. Children can relate to the idea of standing up to a bully by becoming something intimidating themselves. The brand of violence coming from the men is simply too beyond a child's comprehension or even vague understanding. They won't connect with it. Children fear the dark, moving shadows, the unknown and the unseen. They fear ghosts and monsters.

    However they could relate to the idea of the men trying to remove the girl from her home by physically grabbing her and trying to throw her out.

    Home Alone would have been a very different movie if Harry and Marv carried guns instead of crowbars.
     
  4. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Have you considered writing it with an older age group in mind? It sounds interesting.

    I have an issue with the gun, too. If the men are adults and the girl a teen, you don't need the gun. The could come toward her and find themselves just as far away in a loop or any number of thwarted non-gun threats.

    I think you can write it as a middle-grade story if you want. Look at the Goosebumps series. It's how you write it that determines the reading market, not necessarily the story itself.
     
  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like it but my choice would be to make the knife rubber rather than a banana only because the banana doesn't quite have the right shape.
     
  6. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    Changing one thing changes the tone and context of the whole scene.

    You have changed the gun to a knife. But you have also changed what the girl does to the knife. Changing a knife to a banana is a lot more obvious and freaky compared to using her powers to make the gun not loaded. Because from the perspective of the men, forgetting to load the gun is a lot more believable than packing a banana instead of the knife you intended to pack.

    Which means that by the time she has materialized a samurai sword and sliced the banana into wafer thing slices in less time than it take the men to blink, they would run screaming. They certainly wouldn't have the presence of mind to ask why she is wearing sunglasses.

    By changing one thing you need to consider what would logically follow. You can't just substitute one thing for another and expect the scene to remain plausible.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.

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