Thursday, 27 June 2013

Age Range Acceptableness



Hey all,

First of all, I’m amazed that acceptableness is actually a word, or if it isn’t, then at some point in the past I told Word to let it be one. I’ve come to the point where nine times out of ten I’ll just conjugate a word how I want it to be conjugated without actually checking if it’s “allowed.” Anyways, writing has been going so well that I had a panic moment tonight (last night) when I realized I didn’t have much to talk about. Or, at the very least, no impending doom in my writing life that I needed to blog about.

What I decided to do instead was talk about something that I keep bumping into throughout the course of the book, and I suppose the first Dreamstate book as well. That something is the issue of keeping the content of the story in line for the age range that I’m writing to/for. The books age with Daniel, a couple years (one or two) go by between novels, and as such the content ages with him. There’s more violence, sex, drugs, and rock and roll in the later books than in the first. The problem, though, is that I can’t jump the gun with all the rock and roll before Daniel (and the audience) gets to that point.

I frequently find myself thinking that I should put in a particular scene, or event, or what have you, but then having to rein myself in a bit. ‘Waaaaaay too violent,’ I find myself saying—there’s a point where it just becomes a trail of bodies, and I want to avoid that, or at least save it for the later books.

Now, keep in mind, it’s not necessarily Daniel creating all the mayhem, it’s the world in general. There are evil gods, armies, soldiers, monsters, and even weirder stuff out there. The world can be dark, and pretty creepy, but I can’t take it too far. When the book becomes The Shining, I end up getting angry emails from people because they/ their children can no longer sleep. This isn’t to say that I can’t be edgy in the books, especially as Daniel gets a bit older. I love dark, creepy worlds and places and people and things. They don’t need to be gruesome and violent and offensive just for the sake of it. Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, for example gave me terribly weird dreams after I read it—and my girlfriend still hasn’t been able to make it through the book (too creepy). But it’s also acceptable for a young adult/ middle grade audience.

On the flipside of the taking it too far issue, is that I sometimes revert into Daniel from the first book. I’m writing along, and suddenly Daniel reads a lot more like a ten or eleven-year-old again—he listens a bit better to the adults and has less forceful opinions than a thirteen-year-old. A lot of the time I’ll need to go back and make a few switches to the dialogue. It’s usually nothing too big, and for the most part I think it’s just me falling back into the style that I was more used to in the first book. Keeping things within the correct frame of reference is more work than you might think. If I get lazy with what I’m doing, then things can get really strange, especially if the world gets hard and mature, and the character reverts to a child; strange indeed.

-Trevor

Also, this Saturday (June 29th), From Ash will once again be free on Amazon.

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