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need advice for kidnapping in MG novel

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I am writing an MG novel and it's centered on a kidnapping. I am new to writing and need advice regarding details of the kidnapping.  For this age level, should the details be glossed over?  Should it happen to the main character or a secondary character?  How "scary" should the kidnappers be? 
Thank you!
#1 - March 05, 2021, 09:46 AM
« Last Edit: March 05, 2021, 09:49 AM by linda-mundinger »
Linda Mundinger

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The level of scare is tied best to your MC's age. I've read lots of kidnappings in MGs. The bad guys tend to be ominous rather than outright scary. Some scenes do get fairly graphic (not gross), but nothing like I expect reality might be like.

How far did you want to take this? I certain don't want to read an SVU episode in an MG.

Dave
#2 - March 05, 2021, 12:49 PM

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A couple of episodes of the live action TV series Hunter Street show kidnappings. Examples like that, which are geared for the age group, might give you an idea of how to proceed. I bet you can find examples i books for the age group too. Dave, can you name any? Use those sources as mentor texts, but be sure your version is true to your characters and the needs of your story.

This is key when you're deciding which character should be kidnapped. What does the story call for?
#3 - March 05, 2021, 06:17 PM
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I would think about the hero in your story, which of course could be the victim, saving him/herself, or could be the person who figures out how to save the kidnapping victim. Either way, it's the main character/hero who needs to figure out how to save the day, and then pull it off.

Middle grade can get scary, but first consider what is the story you want to tell. What's at the heart of it?
#4 - March 05, 2021, 06:35 PM
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Wicked Nix's kidnapping predates the story.  The Nethergrim has a bunch children taken. The Foundry's Edge has kidnapping of a father and daughter and I seem to remember it being pretty physical at times.

But those are all Fantasy. I don't tend to note which books have kidnappings. But I know the Hardy Boys had a couple when I was a young man.
#5 - March 05, 2021, 06:41 PM

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As Mrs. Jones says, I'd write your story to start with--get that first draft down and then tinker with the details. Who gets kidnapped needs to be a story decision; you can slide the scariness factor around as needed.
#6 - March 05, 2021, 07:22 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
The Constitution Decoded (Workman, 2020)
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Freak the Mighty is an amazing MG book with a kidnapping in it.
#7 - August 18, 2021, 04:45 PM

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I think, once you write the first draft, you could read some comp books to see how they handle it.  Priscilla has recommended one, and I recommend Withering-by-sea by Jude Rossell. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23476820-withering-by-sea
#8 - August 18, 2021, 07:20 PM
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths - CSIRO Pub. Nov. 2021

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My upcoming small press release (Survivor Mountain, 2022) features a kidnapping. It's upper MG, with a thirteen-year-old MC and her ten-year-old sister who are kidnapped by a married couple who holds them for ransom. I wanted to avoid any overt SVU vibe, and making the kidnappers a married couple made that easier:

The level of scare is tied best to your MC's age. I've read lots of kidnappings in MGs. The bad guys tend to be ominous rather than outright scary. Some scenes do get fairly graphic (not gross), but nothing like I expect reality might be like.

How far did you want to take this? I certain don't want to read an SVU episode in an MG.
Here's a blurb to give you a feel for the level of scare and stakes:

When an earthquake rips through the Santa Cruz mountains and turns their hiking trail to rubble, thirteen-year-old Dani, her younger sister Lily, a crush, and two friends are separated from the rest of the students on their school field trip. The stranded hikers find an alternate trail where they meet a married couple who gives them shelter, but the shelter becomes a trap—the couple are on-the-run criminals who kidnap Dani and Lily!

To escape their captors, the girls must heal deep cracks in their relationship: one year earlier their older sister died in a tragic accident, and Dani and Lily silently blame each other. Now they must learn to trust again before they, with stealthy help from Dani’s crush and friends, attempt to outwit the kidnappers in a high stakes con-game that pushes courage to the limit. 

Second chances and new beginnings are the prize. If they survive.


# # #

Best wishes!
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#9 - August 19, 2021, 09:05 AM
Ten Clever Ninjas (Clear Fork, 2019)
Butterfly Girl (Clear Fork, 2019)
Survivor Mountain (Hurn Publications, 2022)

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