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Is it okay for a Middle Grade book to end in failure?

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#1 speedchuck


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Posted 14 July 2017 - 10:34 AM

I often write bittersweet endings. It's what I do. Protagonist is faced with an impossible situation, they try everything they can, but they meet with failure. Perhaps there is some success in what they do, but they fail at what they WANTED to accomplish.

I'm writing a middle grade book, first in a series, about two kids trying to keep a secret. I'm considering, at the end of the book, letting that secret get out. It would be completely the fault of the two kids, despite their best efforts to stop it. The unleashing of the secret will create a recurring adult bad guy in the books, and I think he'll be entertaining.

But are my readers going to be too let down if the main characters fail? Can I throw a little bit of success/planning in there to make them seem more confident, sure, or focused?

Can I end this book in failure? And if I do, are there any methods I can take to help the reader swallow the bitterness of failure?

(I know I can do this with YA or Adult books. This is my first time writing Middle Grade. Main characters are in 6th grade if that helps.)

#2 Niambi


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Posted 14 July 2017 - 10:42 AM

Not at all. Our younger people need to experience failure in many forms. Better as book than in real life.

One of my favorite books as a child (can't remember the title) ended with the pilot of a rescue shuttle giving his life for a poor stowaway child. It was so sad, but it was a great read and introduction into how powerful reading can be.

Break the little darlings hearts.

#3 HarlequinWriter


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Posted 29 September 2017 - 08:45 PM

You can help your reader by showing what the character does in response to failure. It would have been phenomenally helpful to me as a child if I had read about failure making someone into a better person, different ways of coping with loss, characters finding out that what they want isn't always what they need, to be grateful for what they already do have, whatever moral you're going for. If anything, I'd argue that failure needs to be more present in Middle Grade books nowadays. It also makes for a heck of a plot twist to any adult reading it out loud to a child. Best of luck to your work~

#4 mwsinclair


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Posted 29 September 2017 - 10:35 PM

I think it's a great question, and I'd love to see other responses too.

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