View Full Version : Kids in Danger?

Project nachonaco
10-22-2008, 02:22 AM
How do you tactfully show kids in danger (ie. in a room with a gunman?) without giving an agent the Squickiness?

10-22-2008, 02:42 AM
That's a big question. Which only begs more questions - what genre is it? What age is it meant for? Is the kid the MC or someone on the periphery? Why is the kid in the situation? etc etc

I can tell you that I have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at my MCs and I write middle grade. Heck in book one, Alex was almost tortured, and in book two there are a couple scenes involving guns and cars barreling down at them at high speed. Oh and the MC gets pushed out of a plane.

But this is also high adventure. There is a sense of safety as you read it because you know that considering the genre and the extreme nature of the story, that everything will turn out okay.

Anyway . . . can't really answer your question until you answer mine, lol! But I will say it can be done, and has been done many times before.

Project nachonaco
10-22-2008, 02:43 AM
It's a military science fiction novel. The base is under siege and the kids are in lockdown, with a gunman by them. Heh.

I would guess my novel is a high school novel.

10-22-2008, 02:49 AM
Like YA? Is the gunman on their side or holding them hostage? And are the kids teenagers themselves, or kids kids? And what relation does this scene have to do with what the MC is doing, is he/she in the room? Having to protect the room? Save the kids in the room? Do any of the kids get shot? Injured? Die?

(sorry just want all the facts before trying to help :) )

10-22-2008, 02:50 AM
I don't really understand why you think the agent will feel squicky. If the scene is done well, a child being involved should up the tension level, right?

And if you're doing YA, well, teens think about death and dying A LOT. It isn't foreign territory to them, and you'll find it in lots of YA books. I haven't read it, but Jodi Picoult's 19 minutes is a very popular school shooting story and might give you some ideas about the boundaries in this kind of book (it was pubbed for adults but read by lots of teens)

Danger Jane
10-22-2008, 04:56 AM
Unless your material is REALLY gratuitously gory or distastefully/poorly handled, your agents probably won't be squicked.

I haven't read it, but have you heard of Battle Royale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Royale)? It's basically about a bunch of teens who, one day at school, are forced by their government to kill each other, last one standing wins. It might not be YA, but I think it is, and my local library carries it there. It was made into a movie, too.

10-22-2008, 08:08 PM
How do you tactfully show kids in danger (ie. in a room with a gunman?) without giving an agent the Squickiness?

Just tackle it with the tact you would use in any circumstance. If the scene warrants a gunman with kids, and is handled well from a writerly aspect, a prospective agent will understand it with no qualms. And as long as the agent represents the kind of work you've written, then you really have nothing to worry about.

Good luck!

10-22-2008, 09:22 PM
I think you probably WANT your agent to be squicked -- if you're putting kids in peril, you want the discomfort and tension it brings (otherwise, why bother?)

(Though it CAN backfire -- my agent got a note back from a senior editor at a major house when she was shopping Before I Wake basically asking "Why on earth would anyone want to read this? Why did you send this to me? This... Why? What were you thinking?" Oh well -- people apparently did want to read it, so thhhhhhhpppppptttt!)

(And it does squick people out, the whole putting kids in peril thing. Especially if it starts to seem like you're building a career on it. My wife responded to a recent novella with "Oh my f*cking God -- another one? Do you hate kids?")