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MG heroes and adult bad guys

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Looking for some insights or maybe even some suggestions of books that handle this well. I'm down to the last couple chapters of my MG draft, and I'm really wrestling with how a couple of 12YOs can realistically take down the bad guys (thieves) who think they are getting away with their thievery. They can't use brute force because they're kids, and I don't of course just want the cops to show up and take over with no effort on the part of my heroes. Obviously I need to tailor this to the particular setting of my book, but I'm trying to think of general models of how kids do this in books. The only thing I can think of is to have the adults counting on the situation from here on out being in their favor, only the kids possess a bit of knowledge the adults don't, and it thwarts the bad guys' plans/trips them up somehow.

Is it enough to have a kid manage to trip the security system somehow, to call for help? That way the adults who really can arrest these guys show up in time, but only because the kid alerted them. I'm not sure how climaxy that is, though.

The *main* issue of my story is the conflict between two particular characters, and the thieves who try to steal something important to both of these characters form the setting in which my characters have to resolve their differences. And I'm good on that part. But without being able to figure out the action resolution, I don't have a place to drop in that part of the ending.

Surely this has to be an issue that MG writers deal with quite often. How do you empower the kids and yet keep it believable? Ideas? Examples of books that have handled this well?
#1 - January 27, 2016, 07:20 AM

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The movie Home Alone comes to mind...

See THE AVIARY, which had two adult bad guys. The kids were clever about bringing them down.  http://www.amazon.com/Aviary-Kathleen-ODell/dp/0375852263/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453907923&sr=8-1&keywords=THE+AVIARY

#2 - January 27, 2016, 07:25 AM
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Kids like to believe that they can outsmart adults, thus the popularity of Home Alone. It helps if the adults aren't terribly bright to begin with. Barring supernatural powers (Virals), find a talent that you've foreshadowed, or will foreshadow. Computer skills is a good one. The kids can create a trap using the skills you've foreshadowed. In E.T., something as simple as great bike skills paid off at the end. They don't need strength, just some skill that the adult won't have.
#3 - January 27, 2016, 07:40 AM
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Rose I just went through this too with my MG. I agree with the others. My kids used their talents that were a big part of the book to trap the bad guy at the end. He's then left for the police to collect.
#4 - January 27, 2016, 08:17 AM
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Can you require the kids to do something especially brave in order to call for help? Or have them face down a particular fear that has plagued them in order to get the police there? It could be a fear that has bothered them one way or another throughout the book. That way it's a personal triumph as well as being realistic.
#5 - January 27, 2016, 08:39 AM

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A scene where the police or authorities arrest the bad guys works if the kids are the ones outsmarting. It's the classic Scooby Doo ending: "I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those darn kids."

In my MG, the kids thwart the adult bad guy, whose plans fall apart, but no one really knows what happened but them and the bad guy. That happens a lot too -- kids save the day, but don't get credit.
#6 - January 27, 2016, 10:06 AM
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Great thread! I have the same issue with my MG -- one of my betas pointed out that very flaw, in which the MC basically hands over clues and discoveries to the police. Although she has solved a mystery, it has to be the police who investigate a serious crime that happened long ago (if that makes sense). So I am also looking at rewriting to address that.

Okay, so I have no advice, but thanks for letting me jump on the topic with you!
#7 - January 27, 2016, 01:29 PM

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This is a great thread and a good question. I had to re-think my "on the younger side" MG and I did what ron-estrada suggested. I gave her Houdini like talents/interest which comes in at the climax. It's working so far    :crossedfingers  Provides some humor, and, I think, rounds out my character nicely. Good luck. Let us know what you decide.
#8 - January 28, 2016, 06:08 PM

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Take a look at our own Mrs. Jones's CLAYTON STONE, AT YOUR SERVICE, to see a great example of the way a MG hero uses his talents to dispatch adult villains. (He's working with the adults, but he has to solve problems on his own.)
#9 - January 31, 2016, 01:52 PM

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I've just started reading Clayton Stone and was going to mention it, as well. I also recently listened to John Grisham's book Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer. The kid is smart and uses a lot of his own resources but also gets adults involved when needed.
#10 - January 31, 2016, 03:03 PM
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In both of my MGs that my agent is subbing, I have the kids tackle the final showdown themselves, and then call in adults at the last minute, when the bad guys are already "trapped" into being caught. I agree with the Scooby Doo reference!
#11 - January 31, 2016, 04:56 PM
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The movie Home Alone comes to mind...
Home Alone is a dreadful example to work from. Check out the Honest Action trailer to see how many times real villains would have died:
https://m.youtube.com/results?q=honest%20action%20home%20alone&sm=1
#12 - March 04, 2016, 02:33 PM
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Clayton is a great example. Ena, are your ears burning? :grin3  My childhood favorites: Enid Blyton mystery stories (Famous Five, Secret Seven) where the kids are always up against adults. They each talents that come in handy and it's all very believable. Other books I enjoyed The Apothecary, Blue Balliet's mysteries, Mysterious Benedict Society.

Happy writing!
Vijaya
#13 - March 04, 2016, 03:47 PM
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Haha! Thanks for the love!

Although I agree with what A.S. says about Home Alone, I also think it's a great example of what kids want: To drive their own story and come up with the solutions that solve the problems in the story. And the more complex/difficult the problems, the more difficult this is to do. That's why we writers get paid the big bucks, right? :snork
#14 - March 05, 2016, 08:25 AM
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