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Genres & Age Categories => Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: mgmystery on September 13, 2017, 10:48 AM

Title: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 13, 2017, 10:48 AM
Does anyone know of an article that explains what's expected in middle-grade horror? How scary is too scary for kids who grew up watching The Walking Dead?

Also, if you have kids who like to be frightened, I'd love to know what they think are the scariest recent MG titles!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: Melody on September 13, 2017, 05:52 PM
Hmm. I don't write or read horror, but I do write MG. My suggestion is to immerse yourself in what is already out there and see how far other published writers have taken things. I did just read a scary MG that was more of a scary Halloween story than outright horror, but it was still pretty scary, though not graphic. It had also had a mixture of humor and sweetness, which really helped balance out the tension and fear factor in the story.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 14, 2017, 09:56 AM
Thanks, Melody. I am trying to read as many recent scary MG titles as I can. Do you remember the title of the one you read?
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: becca_brehon on September 14, 2017, 11:03 AM
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a great example of a recent MG Horror! Others I can think of are Doll Bones by Holly Black, The Jumbies by Terry Baptiste, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, and the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. Classic past titles might include Coraline and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and ParaNorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. I hear Katherine Arden is coming out with a new title called Small Spaces for middle graders...not sure about the pub date but it's supposed to be brilliant!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: Melody on September 14, 2017, 01:14 PM
Thomas Templeton and the whispers of Branson Manor
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 15, 2017, 06:28 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions! Some were already on my TBR list, and I've added some   ;D

Small Spaces definitely looks amazing! It's pitched on Goodreads as The Walking Dead meets Stranger Things, but no pub date I can find either. I followed the author, so hopefully, we'll find out soon!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: susan-hughes1 on September 18, 2017, 08:36 AM
Hi MG Mystery,

I thought you might find this article interesting. It mentions Holly Black's Doll Bones and Robert Beatty's Serafina and the Black Cloak: http://whatswriteaboutthis.com/whats-write-in-middle-grade-horror-doll-bones-serafina/  The big horror MG series I remember was R.L. Stein's Goosebumps. Looks like he is still writing, for example, Young Scrooge, The Little Shop of Monsters ... One story that always creeped me out was Neil Gaiman's Coraline!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 18, 2017, 09:29 AM
Thanks, Susan! I saved the article and keep adding to my list. I'm not sure how I missed it, but I had no idea Serafina was so spooky!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: SarahW on September 19, 2017, 06:02 PM
Thanks, Susan! I saved the article and keep adding to my list. I'm not sure how I missed it, but I had no idea Serafina was so spooky!

Also keep in mind Middle Grade can be split between lower middle grade (that's often only twice the size of a chapter book) and older middle grade that is just about the length of an early young adult.

I had to look this up, as I'm still considering a middle grade Cyberpunk/Biopunk/Spypunk at some point.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 20, 2017, 06:14 AM
Yeah, the lower/upper MG thing is another mine field for me to worry about. Did you find anything very specific?

I'm thinking my word count will be 35k-40k, and the content will be scary--but my MC is 11 yrs old. I'm hoping to just pitch it as MG.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: SarahW on September 20, 2017, 07:54 AM
Yeah, the lower/upper MG thing is another mine field for me to worry about. Did you find anything very specific?

I'm thinking my word count will be 35k-40k, and the content will be scary--but my MC is 11 yrs old. I'm hoping to just pitch it as MG.

Nothing beyond "read your target market" unfortunately. Which isn't real helpful when looking for Middle Grade Cyberpunk.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 20, 2017, 10:06 AM
I bet. If it's one of those situations where you're thinking MIne's almost like that, but... And the part that makes it different is where you're probably breaking rules, I'm right there with you.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: olmue on September 20, 2017, 10:27 AM
I'll second Doll Bones and also Lockwood & Co. As an adult, I found elements in both of them quite scary! But they were also handled in a very middle grade way.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: SarahW on September 20, 2017, 10:35 AM
I bet. If it's one of those situations where you're thinking MIne's almost like that, but... And the part that makes it different is where you're probably breaking rules, I'm right there with you.

Well that and while I consider myself a middle grade writer, a lot of my aim is to subvert the Disney children's story stereotype. Even when I hadn't wrote middle grade, it was early teenagers taking on the responsibilities of adults, and how while children would like to be thought of as older, the idea of them actually being adults is ... well quite dark indeed.

Think of it less like a dystopian novel, and more like an Urban Mobster/Espionage novella, with a very slight element of Lord Of The Flies and fairies.

Hence while not horror, I see myself in a similar situation with horror middle grade writers.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 20, 2017, 10:41 AM
Well, your situation makes mine look easy.  :umm Good luck!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: KeithM on September 28, 2017, 08:27 AM
Dan Poblocki writes interesting MG horror--upper MG. He's written quite a few books. (is quite a few an oxymoron?) I'd definitely check his stuff out.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: SarahW on September 28, 2017, 03:46 PM
Just finished a flash fiction Upper Middle Grade called Mother's Sea, a science fiction. It's perfectly fine if you're main character sounds intellegent, even more than their age, as long as in general they ... paradoxically, sound like their age.

In other words, there should be other clues to indicate their age.

When carried over into mood, while whimsical and adventureus, it should still convey the darkness that carries over into the horror or dystopian genre.

Hope that helps.

Example. When I wrote Nymphs Of Winter Fire, while there was beheadings referenced throughout, main characters still indicated their voice by saying things like "You mean I have to take out the pale?"

For me, I use this contrast between childhood tone and adult horror to effect.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of, while the parent (if not absent) may be preachy, it must be obvious this is the main character speaking, and not the author.

Your milage might vary.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: mgmystery on September 29, 2017, 12:23 PM
 Ha! Quite a few might be an oxymoron, but I use it all the time.  And Dan Poblocki is now on my list.

Sarah, my dialogue is definitely staying in the MG range and I've added a background that suits some of my MC's extra knowledge. I've started drafting and it seems to be working nicely.
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: dinalapomy101 on October 07, 2017, 04:50 AM
I'll add THE AVIARY by Kathleen O'Dell to your list!
Title: Re: MG Horror Guidelines
Post by: jodi-cardillo on December 06, 2017, 11:53 AM
Hi mg mystery,

I know this is late, but I read The Hunt for the Seventh, by Christine Morton-Shaw. 6 murdered children and the seventh goes missing. A suspenseful, scary at times, creepy and totally engaging read!