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A Serious Question: Can Children’s Novels Explore Extreme Emotion?

December 27, 2013

brookeburgess

Hello friends, and happy impending 2014!

With the new year fast approaching, I find another journey is on the verge of ending; I’m about to complete the first draft of my debut novel. For better or worse, I’m trying to see the accomplishment for what it is, and release any and all expectations surrounding it. And with that? Well, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a smidgen excited. But just a smidgen…or two. 😉

I’ve been tweeting and Facebook’ing a string today about children’s stories – specifically ‘mid-grade’ novels (for 8-12 year-olds ie: Potter, Narnia, Dark Materials, Percy Jackson, etc) – and whether it’s possible for these to contain intense emotional arcs.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and find that many of the established series limit their protagonist’s emotional range and ‘stakes’ (at least until later instalments), while choosing instead to focus on ‘world-building’, large character rosters, and causal plot triggers.

So here’s my question: do you think that issues like self-worth, abandonment, betrayal, extreme doubt/terror, and the like are exclusively an ‘adult’ domain? I ask because, with the end in sight, I’m seeing that my tale is pretty darn dense with complex emotions already — things I personally experienced as a child — and the feeling I have now is that this dynamic has entrenched itself as the bedrock of the greater (ie: 5 volume) narrative.

Without high stakes and real struggle, isn’t a story merely ‘stuff happening in an interesting place, with random people’???

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2 Comments

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  1. brianlragsdale #
    January 6, 2014

    I think the question is one of digestion, how much a reader can digest of what you are serving so to speak. the complexity of all things is always there but I can only take in so much at a time. hope this helps, and wanted you to know that someone in the universe hears you. congratulations on completing your book, this is truly wonderful, a moment to savor for a very long time. peace and blessings, brian

    Like

    • March 19, 2014

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Brian…and for the supportive energy. It hasn’t fallen on blind eyes or deaf ears 🙂

      Like

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