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Violence in MG Fantasy


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#1 WCSherman

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 09:33 AM

I'm almost finished with the first draft of my MG novel. I mean the FIRST DRAFT, not the first edited draft. So this is the perfect time to post this.

 

I've read a lot about what content is allowed in different age groups, and it all made perfect sense to me, but there is one thing I'm having trouble finding specifics on. 

 

Violence. I know it can't be blood gushing, heads being cut off violent. Obviously. So you know what I've done:

 

Zak is in a world full of mythical creatures. He is essentially in a war between the good guys and the bad guys, like usual. Well, there is a scene in the book where he is being guarded by someone and they're "hunting" in the forest for a little boy who is their prey (think Most Dangerous Game). Well, Zak is not all about hurting people, so the only thing he can do to escape is to kill the guard who is basically forcing him to go on this hunt. I don't describe the actual death at all. Here is what's going on, then what I say:

 

Oberon is the bad guy and he has people who follows his orders. The elf in this scene is one of the people who follow his orders. Zak asked why he does what he's told, instead of doing what he knows is right.

 

EXCERPT: 

 

He groaned and turned to Zak, staring down at him with black hatred in his eyes. He was at least seven feet tall and he used that to his advantage. Intimidation was quite possibly the only thing this elf had going for him.

“Because Oberon will win, and I chose the winning side. Simple math. Now, we’re done.”

Dangit, Zak thought. I didn’t want to have to do this.

“No…” Zak said softly, raising the spear. “You’re done.”

He thrust the spear forward, unable to keep his eyes open to aim.

He didn’t miss.

 

 

Now, keep in mind I haven't edited this yet. Still rough draft. Later in the book, there is an argument between Zak and his friends about whether or not he made the right decision in killing this guy. He had no other choice. Kill or be killed.

Too much?

It's something I'd prefer, but if I need to change it I can. There's always another option. But this scene helps build more on my story. So if I can keep it, I will. If not... GONE.



#2 Miss Nomer

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 07:40 PM

I also write upper MG fantasy, but I've never included violence. I asked my son, he's 11, and is sometimes my beta reader. He reads obsessively, and he reads across the genres, so he's got a lot of material to draw from. He said that while some characters may die in a book, the main character never kills anyone. They may trap them or outsmart them to get away or maybe they even accidentally push an evil character into a void or something, but they don't kill.

 

You have to think that your reader is going to be putting him or herself into the place of the MC. MG readers probably aren't going to want to connect with or sympathize with a killer.

 

Even Harry Potter never killed anyone - and he had some serious cause.



#3 Spaulding

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Posted 05 November 2015 - 06:25 PM

I write MG. I've even had a violent death in my novel. My protag even thrusted a spear (of sorts) into the enemy. But close up? Protagonist doing the killing? I don't think so. My protag was ineffective in the end.

 

Even though you didn't write it, I felt the spear into the flesh. I heard the death-gurgle. I opened my eyes and saw the blood. Would you want me experiencing that as a 12 year old?

 

If it helps any, the first plan is too predictable anyway. Plan B makes for a better story.

 

(My protag is a sentient 9-year-old teddy bear. The "enemy" was a dog out to do what dogs do to stuffed animals. His "spear" was a barbeque skewer, but he aimed through the mouth in hopes of stabbing the dog right through the brains. Never said that in the book, but if you read the scene, you'd know it. Instead, it slide along the dog's gums, causing some blood to trickle onto my protagonist and then... Then he was saved from that predicament by others. There's always another way.)


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#4 marisajane

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Posted 20 November 2015 - 03:15 AM

IMO your scene is no more violent than say, Aslan's torture/shaving/death scene in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and that's classic middle grade, yes? The children turn away or hide their eyes when the witch kills him with the knife, if i remember that scene right. 

 

The MC Isabel in Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains is a slave girl in the 1700s US, and there's graphic beating scenes in that. Historical fiction, but still.

 

Gratuitous violence never strikes me as the right answer, but when well executed and done responsibly/in line with your story, i'm all for it. But.. i also believe the world is a deeply violent place and we'd do well to show kids some truth of that, so.. maybe this is just me. 

 

There's also this great line from Katherine Paterson - "I cannot, will not, withhold from my young readers the harsh realities of human hunger and suffering and loss, but neither will I neglect to plant that stubborn seed of hope that has enabled our race to outlast wars and famines and the destruction of death."


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