Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Parenting Problem in MG: #5 Missing Entirely

Hi hi hi! I hope your Thanksgiving was INCREDIBLE! Mine sure was. Times two. Since both mine and my hubby's families mostly live nearby, we get to have Thanksgiving twice! (But luckily they're on different days, because pie, people! PIE.)

So, for the last several days, we've been talking about writing middle grade, and how to get the parents / guardians away from the kids, so that they kids can do the really big, impressive things that solve the problems, without those pesky adults stepping in to save the day. So far, we've talked about The Orphan, the Absent / Busy / Bad Parent, the Capable Parent / Capable Child, and the Sibling as Parent. Today we are talking about those parents who are mysteriously MISSING.

Parents Missing Entirely


Generally the parents are never even mentioned, as if they don't even (and didn't ever) exist.

  • It's the easiest method. Because, come on-- if there are no parents, then there isn't a single thing you have to do to separate them from the adults. They already are!
  • The reader will always (always, always, always!) question why. The real trick is getting the reader to not be bothered by not knowing why there are no parents / guardians.
  • Only some books will have a whimsical or fantastical enough feel to pull it off.
  • Without parents, the kids have no parents to please or to have as role models, and the opinions of parents really matter at this age. So with no parents, you lose that element of your story (and also lose out on some of the relatability kids will have with your characters).
Come back tomorrow, when we'll talk about a present family, but when adventures lie within the range of normal.


John Zeleznik said...

Hanna Barberra actually tried to correct this in the Scooby reboot a few years ago (my daughter is a rabid consumer of Scooby products, both old and new) and introduced a more complex (dare I say darker) version of the show that involved several of the characters' parents and it was pretty well done. But I get the point of what you are saying. I'm pretty insistent on having the parents in my work being very present because that's what they were with me.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

That made me think of Home Alone and how the movie never would have worked if the parents were there. :)