Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How scary is too scary?

Line is in Teodor's library, where something very unfortunate is about to happen. And I'm not even talking about the letter she has just dropped as if it were on fire.

I won't spoil the read for you later. I can only say that I frightened myself a bit. But I wonder. Where should I draw the line when it comes to scary in a young adult story? Or children's story?

Could there be...blood coming out of someone's ears? Drownings? People scared out of their wits? A lobotomy device?

I think I'll just have to let the story flow where it wants to, and be careful not to elaborate unduly. Or what do you think?


camilla said...

If I'm allowed give you my two cents;
there is (hardly) no such as "too scary", just good scary and crappy scary.
good scary is when the the scary stuff works, you know.
when something makes me want to cover my eyes and not read any further, but rather crawl under the covers and curl up like a little kitten and stay like that for ever and a day, yet at the same time knowing that I absolutely have to read on, with my heart pounding more and more like an energizer bunny for every page.

I say stick to very scary, Tone, if that's what's your heart is telling you.
children can handle way scarier stuff than many of us older kids, I imagine, if it's right for the story.

and you know Johneinar agrees with me.
he loves crazy scary stuff too!
then again, maybe you shouldn't listen to us on this one, as we both are a little damaged from watching twin peaks at the feeble age of 13...

eiv said...

I was 8 at the time, so I also pass for having a say here :)

And I agree. Go superscary. You'll probably write better if you're terrified yourself.

Better to go back and modify if necessary when it's done rather than keeping yourself from writing the whole thing with passion.

Li:ne said...

I agree!

Or degree as my lovely friend Tanja once said. She would also love the scary stuff. As will I.

Laini Taylor said...

Tone, I always loved scary as a kid, but I do think there IS a "too scary." I don't know how to define it, though. I think it's just instinctive -- things you just wouldn't write in a book for children. That said, I do LOVE scary, so I say go for it. All the things you mention could work in a book for children; all depends how it's done. A lobotomy device? Eww. Sounds awesome!

tone almhjell said...

Thanks for the input everyone. I'll try to sense that line, Laini. I think I know what it feels like, and I don't think I've crossed it so far. But my story has definitely taken a turn for the darker, and I think the next two stories will be even worse.

Hope I can make it work like Maria Gripe did! Her "Tordivelen flyr i skumringen" (and I don't know the English title, but literally, it would be "The scarab flies at dusk") really scared me when I was a kid, but I loved her stories, which were full of ghosts, hidden letters, crypts, telephone calls from dead old ladies and pharao curses. Dynamite!

But then I reread it a few years ago, and I couldn't belive how much my imagination had added to her rather skeletal story.