A thread on AbsoluteWrite’s Young Adult forum actually inspired me to write this topic.
We’ve all got writing sins, something we either do a lot because we don’t like it or don’t know how to write around it–or it just might be a common trope. In the case for me, I just don’t like writing parents, and I realize absent parents are a trope. At the same time, my characters aren’t without adult figures, but these adults figures also don’t try to act as replacement parents.
In fantasy and paranormal books, parents can do a lot to slow down the protagonist, especially if said protagonist has powers the parents don’t have, or the protagonist is required to go on some dangerous journey the parents won’t approve of. So I try to axe the parent element altogether, mostly because I don’t want to write about them. I can read them in other books just fine, but having to write them myself–no. But I don’t fall into the trap of making my protagonist an orphan either, because that really is a tired and cheap way of getting rid of parents.
- When Stars Die (AEC Stellar Publishing): In this novel, I have Amelia and her brother run away from home because her little brother is a witch and Amelia is terrified that the sins her parents committed to birth a witch are going to eventually unearth themselves and destroy their family. So Amelia takes her brother to a place she has learned and read about (Cathedral Reims), and hopes that by becoming a nun, she can cleanse her familial blood of this taint. So her parents are very much alive; they just have no idea where their children are at.
But Amelia does have parental figures–mostly the nuns at the cathedral, especially Mother Aurelia. At the same time, these nuns are also authority figures and teachers, and they are just plain busy, so they don’t hover around the girls like parents often would, and they don’t demand conversation or constant insight into the thoughts of their pupils. They are there when they can be, but they don’t force themselves into the individual lives of the girls. This allows these girls room to strengthen their friendships with one another so that they learn how to help and get long with one another, as they do spend enough time around each other.
Amelia probably wouldn’t be the independent person she is with her parents around–and her brother would remain naïve of the world instead of learning at an early age that the world isn’t always a kind place.
- When Stars Rise (WIP): Alice Sheraton is the new protagonist of this book, and while her parents are present in the beginning, I quickly axe them by sending Alice off to a safe house for witches where parents obviously cannot be present (since her parents aren’t witches anyway). By now Alice’s world has a system in place for dealing with witches–often through executions–but her parents love her enough to want to prevent that, so they did whatever they could to protect Alice and found her a safe house hidden in a forest several miles from Malva, where Cathedral Reims is.
Of course, she, too, isn’t without adult figures. Pastor Brandon is the constant adult figure in her life at the safe house, but he is more of an ally than a parent, offering advice without the expectation that Alice will follow any of it.
- Stolentime (WIP): Gene’s mom is in the first chapter, but his parents are quickly gone after that when I shove him through a bought of psychosis that causes him to run away from home into unfamiliar territory his parents likely won’t find him. Claude, a puppeteer, saves Gene from himself and acts very much like a parent, but he doesn’t demand constant insight into the goings on of Gene’s mind. He only interferes if he feels like Gene is harming himself or is about to be harmed. Otherwise, Gene is a free agent, able to develop as a character on his own terms.
So, if you’re a writer, what are your writing sins? As a reader, what writing sins have you noticed in other books?
Stay tuned for Sunday’s post, where I do a cover reveal of an awesome book from an even more awesome author.