You know how kids can teach adults life lessons? Well the other day, my nine year old daughter taught a pretty darn impressive WRITING lesson.
She wrote a story called, MOM? DAD? IS THAT YOU? The story is about a fourth grade girl whose parents died at the dinner table when she was five. Simultaneous brain tumors, apparently. She didn't have other family, so she went to live in an orphanage. She kept that fact a secret so kids wouldn't tease her.
One day, though, a mean kid found out and told everyone. The MC was upset and ran home to an empty orphanage. Not a soul in site. She was a little freaked, so when she heard the knocking on the door, she was fairly relieved. UNTIL she opened the door and saw a couple of zombies! They knocked her out, apparently right before everyone else arrived back at the orphanage. She awoke to orphan casualties abounding and the zombies closing in on her. In the midst of the literal fight of her life, she noticed a certain familiarity about the zombies. She said, "Mom? Dad? Is that you?"
Yes, apparently it was.
My daughter gets the concept that when a person gets turned into a creature such as a zombie, it's no longer that person. Still, though, I wondered at her choices. We get along great! But was there some kind of parental issue I was unaware of that made her choose to have her MC fight her parents? So I asked.
Me: I love it! Why were the zombies her parents, though? I've gotta say, I'm a little weirded out by that.
Her: [In such a logical, thought-out voice] Zombies are bad. If I had just put that they were any old zombies, WHO CARES if she has to fight them? It would be just like any other zombie story. If it's someone that she recognizes, it's harder for her, and makes my story have SO MUCH MORE CONFLICT.
Yes, those were her exact words.
So there you go. Writing advice from a 9 year old. Make things harder for your characters, and you'll add more conflict to your story. And possibly impress your mom beyond words at the same time.