Characters, Families, and Challenges: A Personal Story

by Ann Jacobus on November 13, 2011

by Ann Jacobus

It’s fitting that I’m writing about family from my mother’s house where I’m staying for a few weeks to help out. She is under hospice care after battling colon and lung cancer for the last two years.

Families are there for us when we encounter hardships and challenges. In real life this is great. In fiction, it’s problematic.

Children’s book writers put young characters in trouble and then let them solve it. Allowing an adult to solve a child’s story problem is a no-no. It squelches character growth (art imitates life) and young readers won’t be interested. What if the Mounties found Brian as soon as his plane went down in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet?

Writers know that it’s a good idea to get the adults, especially parents, out of the picture–render them distracted, impaired or otherwise missing.  Or kill them off. A parent’s death can even be the challenge the character read more …

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