Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I turned on my computer, one thing led to another, and I killed off the adults

So here's the question: Why are the parents always killed off in children's books?

Before I became a writer, I used to think it was a secret liberal agenda to discount the parents' influence in the home. Yes, I really thought that. I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist. My philosophy: If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, then it's probably a dog working undercover for the CIA.

But liberal agendas aside, I have discovered another very practical reason why the adults must be taken out. You see, no discerning adults would ever knowingly let their children combat super-evil wizards, face off with Hades, or go into a magic wardrobe by themselves and discover a world where they are hunted by the White Witch. It just wouldn't happen. But writing a book where the child only does what a good parent would allow them to do is... well... extremely boring.

So, you have to get rid of the parents. The easiest way, of course, is to kill them off. Car accidents, untimely illness, and war are all very convenient ways to get rid of them.

Another good way is to remove the child from the home. Send them off to school, summer camp, vacation with a family friend. Then throw them into trouble with no adult for guidance and, boom, you've got your story.

But what are some other creative ways to get rid of parents? Any ideas? Here are some of my brainstorms (yes, some of these have been done before):
-parents lose memory, forget they have a child
-send child (or parent) back in time, or to the future
-parent (or child) abducted by villain
-parent goes on vacation, leaves child with irresponsible babysitter
-kid is at school, store, playground, etc. away from parent
-parent takes magic potion, goes into coma
-parent takes magic potion, shrinks into a child
-parent takes magic potion, becomes evil
(really, the possibilities are endless with magic potions)
-a huge storm comes and sweeps child away to magical land
-child bumps head, forgets where he/she lives
-child does something horribly wrong by accident or on purpose, afraid to go home
-parents move, child gets lost
-child is mad at parent and leaves (that can be combined with a number of above options)
-and my personal favorite, parents get torn apart by a pack of wild dogs (because, as Jack Handy so eloquently points out, nothing tears apart a family faster than that does)

Well, that's all I have time to brainstorm right now. But I'd love to hear anyone else's ideas if you've got them. What do you think is the best way to eliminate parents?

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