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What is allowable in MG? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

What is allowable in MG?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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DrG2
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What is allowable in MG?

Postby DrG2 » Fri Jul 25, 2014 12:52 am

I think the next novel I will try to write will be MG, with 12-year-old characters. I don't know what is acceptable.

A serial killer in the community that has been preying on young folk? The kids will foil him as the climax.
Minor characters (of the same age) that had sex? The MCs would be talking about it.
Not-too-graphic violence?

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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:43 am

It's isn't so much what is allowed as it is how you portray it. I don't remember ever seeing a serial kill involved, and whether you could portray it in a way that parents would approve is anyone's guess. That's the thing with MG and younger. It isn't just the kids you have to please, it's the parents, as well.

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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby mammamaia » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:48 am

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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby updog » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:23 am

Why don't you read some middle-grade and see how they handle these subjects? Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book might be a good place to start, since the MC is stalked by a killer from the first page. There's a lot of death happening in middle-grade, but I can't remember ever reading a middle-grade book where the characters were having sex. That doesn't mean they're not out there. I just can't think of any (and as a parent I wouldn't have wanted my 10-year-old reading a book that had that in there*). I would certainly never, ever, ever describe the actual act in a middle-grade book. I do think it's important that you do your homework on this subject. It could be you're wanting to write YA, in which case these things aren't taboo at all. You'd just need to make your characters older.

*A lot of people are disgusted that American's get more worked up about their children reading about sex than about their children reading about violence, but as a buddy of mine once said, most of us don't think our children will grow up and kill someone, but we know they'll have sex. We don't want them doing it at 12. ;)
"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby Gooblink » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:30 am

My MG boys never enjoyed 'coming of age' type books, or anything that revolved around pre-teen angst and drama. They were fans of Tolkien, C. S. Lewis's Narnia, Henty historical fiction, Bryan Jacques's Redwall series. They loved Star Wars movies, but didn't read much Sci-Fi - at least not that I recall.

We've read some pretty suggestive literature - Epic of Gilgamesh, Canterbury Tales, etc., but the MG versions are tamed down.

I've never been a fan of introducing kids to things like serial killing, teenage sex, etc., because they have their whole lives to discover the world and I just want them to be able to be kids.

Now that they're in high-school they read just about anything. To me, MG reading should be innocent, thoughtful and, at some level, educational, but not overly dark or disturbing.
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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby atwhatcost » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:21 pm

Lynn

Working on my first novel.

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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:56 pm


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DrG2
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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby DrG2 » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:35 pm

the main characters would consider their classmates that are having sex as weird. It would either be presented as gossip, or the MCs might be in the public place when evidence is found. The "couple" might be encountered a few times in passing during the novel before the revelation.

It's not an essential part of the story, though it would relate to the friendship the three boys are developing with a girl they ran into recently. A counterpoint.

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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby DrG2 » Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:38 pm


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atwhatcost
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Re: What is allowable in MG?

Postby atwhatcost » Sun Jul 27, 2014 3:53 pm

Lynn

Working on my first novel.

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