Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Getting Rid of the Adults Anne Cassidy

When I was a child there was nothing I liked better than a book with no adults in it. The idea that adults could be excused from duty was a delight to me. This is probably one of the main reasons that I (and many other children) loved Enid Blyton. A group of children going camping, exploring an island, a river, a mountain WITHOUT adults. It was my daydream.

In the year 2010 it is unthinkable that children would ever go anywhere alone. Most children are escorted to and from school and are driven to and from friends’ houses. Stayovers are only allowed if CRB checks have been carried out on the host family, their dog, their cat and their rabbit.

Children in 2010 still like reading books where they have charge of what goes on. So adults have to be eliminated from the plot somehow. This has to be done in a plausible way.

Here are five possible ways to get rid of the adults.

ONE: Put one of the parents in hospital and have the other distracted and preoccupied so that the children/teens have to work things out for themselves.

TWO: Make the parents enthusiasts (anoraks) about something. If they are obsessed with going to Civil War battle re-enactments then they won’t notice when their children/teens are being lured into some internet/bullying intrigue.

THREE: Send the parents on a much needed holiday from the stresses of modern life and the children/teens have to go and stay with a grandparent. The grandparent is a little distant. Unfold the plot there.

FOUR: Modern parents have busy jobs. Have two career parents who are decent enough but don’t notice what is going on under their own noses. This enables the children/teens to circumvent rules and have maximum freedom.

FIVE: This is probably the most desperate means of all. In the new book that I’m working on the parents vanish. They go for a meal one night and are never seen again. This is the heart of the plot. The teens in this book spend their time trying to find them.

Can you think of other satisfying ways to Get Rid of the Adults?

12 comments:

Brian Keaney said...

Write a fantasy and make up your own rules

catdownunder said...

Oh yes, you kill the parents of two of the children. (The book I am currently trying to write does this but I hasten to add that it is based on a real life incident.)
The children can get lost - easy to do here in an Australian setting but a bit predictable and very dangerous.
The parents can get delayed after leaving the children at home alone - preferably in a remote place.
Set the story in another time - or place.

Anne Cassidy said...

But if, like me, you only write social realism then you are stuck. No fantasy here please.

hilary said...

It is such a problem. I have found that the preoccupied and zany variety of parent comes under attack at once by well meaning (adult) reviewers. 'I cannot be amused at any responsible author advocating such poor parenting,' they intelligently remark. And even when you do successfully inveigle your poor scrutinised heros and heroines out of the front door alone editors write notes in the margin of your manuscipt such as, 'Surely this character would have owned a mobile phone.'
But I have thought of a new way of getting rid of the adults:

Unavoidably delayed by the surprise eruption of an Icelandic volanco.

I was so pleased to think of it. And I bet it is the new cult. The new better-drowned-than-duffers, cholera-swept-through-the-house, the-children-watched-from-a-hilltop as-their-village-disappeared, the-poor-young-mother-decided-ballet-dancing-and-babies-were-not-a-possible-combination, we-have-hired-you-two-horse-drawn-caravans-be-careful-to-wash-the-lettuce, daddy's-in-prison-he-shouldn't-be-but-he-is, Platform 9and3/4-of-the-21st-century...
'The volcano period of children's literature,' they will call it. 'Absolutely ludicrous. They must have been desperate.'

Charlie Butler said...

Hilary, that's a great idea! But you do zany parents better than anyone, and don't let "We are not amused" reviewers tell you different, no matter how intelligent.

I've always admired Dahl's no-nonsense way with parents in James and the Giant Peach - eaten up by a random rhino by the end of the second paragraph, and neither parent nor pachyderm ever heard of again. (A point missed in the Burton movie, where they gallumphingly turned the rhino into a Symbol.) But I suppose that's fantasy, since rhinos are vegetarian. Perhaps an escaped lion?

Another thought: perhaps if there are enough children - say, seven or eight - the parents won't be able to keep track, and it will give the children a chance to go and Do Stuff?

Megan said...

Fantastic post! Love the idea that parents aren't there - something I too loved. And I love the list of how to get rid of them! Think it would work in real life? Hehehe...

Megan said...

Fantastic post! Love the idea that parents aren't there - something I too loved. And I love the list of how to get rid of them! Think it would work in real life? Hehehe...

Rachel Star said...

It's a difficult thing to do, to be sure. You could always try giving the parents something to be pre-occupied with, an issue perhaps, of alcholism, divorce or bankruptcy, but such issues tend to grow and overtake the main action. Perhaps a single parent might be easier to escape?

Keren David said...

Death, prison, mental illness, kidnapping, army, running away, baroding school, summer camp, taken into care..

Katherine Langrish said...

Great post, Anne. My own version? - dad goes off a-viking to raid and pillage, leaving mum to cope with the family feud. But that's fantasy: these days at least.

madwippitt said...

How about parents send kids back to the orphanage?

Stroppy Author said...

I've sent a father off to war in Afghanistan, leaving kids with alcoholic mother who is not very attentive; in 1576, I've had father exiled and mother murdered (a bit drastic), of remaining two uncles one is executed and the other has a nervous breakdown. If you can start with only one (single parent/death in childbirth) getting rid of the other is not so hard.

Or you can just have disobedient child who takes bugger-all notice of what parents say. That's what I have in real life, so don't really write about it ;-)