Thursday 15 November 2012



While some characters are passionately fond of their parents, others find them terribly irritating. But the one thing the characters in your novels will agree on is that parents don't belong in the home. Not only do they create unnecessary boundaries, but they're also just plain annoying: whether that’s the buzz of a caring mother who won’t let the MC out to fight evil after dark and without their coat or the father who not only shows an interest in the MC's life beyond the home – they also insist on talking about the tattoo that has been mysteriously spreading up their arms. Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts, they can all cause painful interruptions, interventions, and unnecessary protection. They can provide the kind of advice that sorts out problems caused by simple mis-understandings and they’re champion when it comes to spotting an unsavoury character. It must be all those misspent years living, reading or watching well-crafted fiction. Even the common older sibling can be a major contributor toward de-escalating danger, preventing attacks, or providing additional muscles especially for younger children [source: Dr I Amreally Protective – Parent & notChild Daring Do Foundation].

With more than 10 quintillion children in the world of fiction being subjected to all kind of peril (that's 10,000,000,000,000,000,0000!), parent-proofing the novel can sometimes feel like a losing battle [source: My Smith’sonlyan Institute]. Fortunately, by understanding what attracts parental authority figures to your novel, you can begin making changes that will help get rid of them for good.

Just like characters, parents are only needed if they are necessary to provide food, water or shelter for your younger MC to survive. By enabling those young MC to source their own food supply and getting rid of parent's favourite hiding spots (such as a stable home,) you can reduce the risk that authority figures will take up residence in your manuscript. Of course, the best way to prevent over-protection and stifling of your MC’s internal and external struggle is to keep adults – of a non-antagonistic nature – out entirely.

To do this, you'll need to tighten up the entry points parents use to gain access, you can greatly improve your chances of staying parent free.

Places where parental-type authority figures can often be found:
·         Churches or other places of religious worship
·         Community meeting halls or rooms
·         Schools
·         Houses, of any type, made from any form of building material

Have you considered these possible solutions:
Killing off both parents
Writing them as emotionally and socially dysfunctional so they appear cold and distant
Ensuring they aren’t around often enough to be mentioned
Make them absorbed by their career path and climbing the corporate ladder
Have them wiped out by any form of predator – animal, vegetable, mineral or any other form of non-human being not covered by the Linnaean taxonomy of the natural world – including those who are living, dead or never alive (although, for stress free classification, I suggest cyborgs could be written across several lists simultaneously or merely written multiple times)

If things are desperate follow the following advice:

1.    Seal the doors – that will only deter the weak and faint-hearted
2.    Add screens to the windows – this should keep most smaller parents in check
3.    Maintain your garden or yard – cut back the plants they could hide under
4.    Repair the cracks – a determined parent, especially one with non-disclosed paranormal skills, could gain entry here
5.    Pay particular attention to pipes – sealant and grease would be effective even if they are capable of multi-form transformations or possess unreasonable strength and agility
6.    Cover large openings – a parent can sneak in through air vents or chimneys ( don’t scoff it has happened before (source: Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf – what greater love exists than that Wolfie would go to such lengths to protect a baby pig from the world beyond his digestive tract)
7.    Don’t invite them to dinner – admit it, you’re fighting the need to add a Come Dine With Me moment
8.    Store rubbish properly – a wily parent knows if any child could be bothered to put the trash out without a reminder, and bring the box back in after, he could hitch a ride inside
9.    Keep foundations clear – if your structure is wooden or weak, you know an authority figure will chew their way inside
10. Encourage natural predators – there’s a back catalogue’s worth of scary monsters between the pages of books. At least one of them has plans to gorge on your kid-sized MC. How about a parent entrée, right at the start, so you can show how fiendish your ant-agonist really is?

It’s sad to say, but for the sake of the plot, the real drama is created when your MC is an orphan even… when they’re not.


My thanks to HowStuffWorks - no bugs were hurt in the making of this post


  1. What a wonderful post on a dark afternoon.Thanks so much;it's hilarious..

    1. Hi Kathryn
      Thank you - I don't know what happened: the original plan was for a dark examination of the absence of parental figures. I guess I had an epiphany somewhere between writing the title and the first paragraph ;)