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Adults in Child Fiction?

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For those writing MG, I am in a quandary. I'm writing a story dealing with mental health issues by using a surprising twist. (That's not pertinent to the question.) There's a chapter where it's just adults talking. (It's relatively short.) The mother is describing her journey with her son. My reticence, of course, is that this is a book written for children 8-12. Even though the information is germane to the boy's life and history, is it advisable to use a chapter with only adults talking?

What say you? I await your wisdom. :whistle
#1 - January 16, 2017, 10:20 AM

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Usually, no. Is there another way you could convey the information?

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. I recently read "The Inquisitor's Tale: Or the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog" where much of the book is adults telling stories about the children. And the narrator is the inquisitor, who is an adult. And it was written by a best-selling author. So rules can be broken, but it has to be done really, really well. You're starting out at a disadvantage breaking the rules, because your writing has to be extra-excellent to convince the agent/editor/ect. that the book should be written that way.
#2 - January 16, 2017, 12:31 PM

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Think about what the mother is saying/needing to convey. Why must the audience (8-12-year-olds) know this? Is it important to the story? Does it move the main character's understanding or thought process in one direction or another? Can you boil what she has to say down to a snipet that the mc overhears and then acts upon, or reacts?
#3 - January 16, 2017, 01:47 PM
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Thank you both. I should probably go with not using it as it's written. In terms of the information--yes, it really is something good for the readers to know. Plus, it gives a layer of understanding to mental health, and to this particular character. I've been thinking about other ways to have the information conveyed and should probably go with that track. Thanks again.
#4 - January 16, 2017, 02:27 PM

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If the scene is from the child's POV, I think it could work. Maybe the main character is spying on the adults and overhears the conversation. What does he think about it? Does he understand? Does he hear only snippets and then investigate and learn more about it by himself?
#5 - January 16, 2017, 04:59 PM
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It's a good idea, dinalapomy - except that it's in two locations (adults in the kitchen) and older kids in the protag's bedroom. I think I'll have to feed the information in incrementally - -maybe with the protag's conversation with her mother.
#6 - January 16, 2017, 06:15 PM

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I guess the next question is: Is the book written in 3rd person POV limited or omniscient? How many POVs does the reader get? If the only point of the one from Mom is to get this info, then I would definitely change from who's POV the info is learned.
#7 - January 17, 2017, 05:34 AM
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Could the child overhear the conversation and reference it in a further talk with her mother?
It is important to address, I feel, from the child's POV, but in a way the reader can empathise with the character.
I'm a third person writer and would find it difficult.
#8 - January 17, 2017, 05:40 AM

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What about if the MC sees a pamphlet, or something marked in a calendar, and asks about it? Or talks about it with a friend? Think about something the MC would witness on the subject, whether it be something left around the house, an experience in public. The MC could ingest the information, talk about it with a friend (or the family pet), and ultimately ask the parent or a teacher, if it is very adult information that needs to come from a credible source. Maybe there could be a friendly next door neighbor who is a doctor? If you threaded a relationship through the story, giving it another basis for relevance, then maybe the subject you are trying to address could come up naturally.

I'm just throwing out ideas - none of them may work, but maybe they will help get the ball rolling.  :goodluck
#9 - January 17, 2017, 05:48 AM
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I understand that the reader needs to know the info, but does the reader need to know it in that moment of the story? You have good advice above on other ways to feed it in. I'm not concerned about the adult voices as much as the idea that it may be an info dump, a break in the action specifically because the author wants the reader to have certain info.
#10 - January 23, 2017, 07:28 AM

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Thanks, everyone! I ended up removing that chapter in Adult pov--and reserving it for info needed but will trickle in when younger protag is curious about it. Great advice! :exactly
#11 - January 23, 2017, 07:44 AM

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Just seeing this. Sounds like you've come up with a good solution. Good luck.
#12 - February 01, 2017, 11:44 AM
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Thank you Melody! Funny timing. I removed the all-adult chapter...and three chapters later, I'm dipping into the information for a more natural discussion from my child-protagonist and her mum. Thanks everyone!
#13 - February 01, 2017, 01:06 PM

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Hi Everyone,

I was just browsing through the MG boards, and came across the thread "Adults in Childs Fiction." The thread has been locked, so I couldn't respond there, but I just would like to add my two cents on the matter.

I know the usual protocol for MG work is to not use many (or any) adult POVs. I had this exact crisis a few months ago while examining whether or not to restructure my own WiP due to a few chapters told from an adult POV. I consulted with a freelance editor who told me when used sparingly, it's okay to do. Obviously the context of the story and how entertaining those chapter are important. Here are some examples of successful novels that use adult POV (sparingly):

The Graveyard Book (The Man Jack)
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle (The Lady Eleanor)
HP & The Sorcerer's Stone (Uncle Vernon) *I would normally not cite Harry Potter, but this is chapter one of book one.

Anyone have any thoughts or other examples?

#14 - June 15, 2017, 02:42 PM

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Hi Brendan, I unlocked the topic and merged your comment with the others. I remember reading a couple of books by Kate di Camillo and Laura Amy Schlitz who've published books with multi-viewpoint characters, some of them adult. Execution is everything.

:welcome to the boards.

#15 - June 15, 2017, 03:46 PM
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Here are some examples of successful novels that use adult POV (sparingly):

The Graveyard Book (The Man Jack)
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle (The Lady Eleanor)
HP & The Sorcerer's Stone (Uncle Vernon) *I would normally not cite Harry Potter, but this is chapter one of book one.

Anyone have any thoughts or other examples?

Another example:

The View from Saturday (Mrs. Olinski)

And I second Vijaya's welcome, Brendan!     :welcomehi


#16 - June 15, 2017, 04:18 PM
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Thanks for the warm welcome!

I must say, I really enjoy getting email notifications like "A reply has been posted to a topic you are watching by carrots." It took me a moment to unscramble my brain and realize the username was "carrots."
#17 - June 15, 2017, 04:21 PM

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