Sunday, January 24, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of the Parents

In order for YA characters to save the day, slay the beast, or kiss the boy, parent supervision must be at a minimum. A lot of YA authors employ one plot device or another to get rid of the parents, here are some of my favorites.

1. Make all the adults disappear (actually haven't read this book yet, but it's sitting on my bookshelf), but I thought it was a great way to get rid of all adult supervision.

2. Parents get killed by an evil wizard, forcing main character to live with an aunt and uncle, who make him sleep in a closet.

3. Set the book during a war, and send the kids off to the countryside to live with a crazy uncle who owns a trippy wardrobe.

4. Make the kids orphans with an older brother who has to look after them, but make sure the kids have cool names like Sodapop and Ponyboy.

5. Have parents bitten by zombies

6. One parent dies and the other becomes emotionally unavailable leaving child to a)take care of other siblings or b)fend for herself with very little adult supervision.

7. Both parents die and child goes to live with work alcoholic aunt, who lives child alone a lot.

8. Child goes to live with other parent to give her mom time with new husband. Father works a lot and doesn't really know how to talk to his child, but gives her a really nice truck. Okay maybe not a nice truck, but it's still more than I got at 17.

9. One parent is murdered and in order for them to stay in the same house the other parent has to work at a job that takes them out of town a lot just to pay the bills.

10. The parents are mad scientists who spend all their time in their basement working on scientific experiments that may or may not include giving their daughter super powers.

10a. Main Character does something horrible and the parents disown him (my next book)

Feel free to add your favorite way to get rid of the parents or guess what books mine came from.

32 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

Parents have brains sucked out by monsters under the bed or Zombie in the fridge.. hey, it could happen alright!

LOL! You see why I don't write YA :)

Nisa said...

lol! This was fun! I didn't catch all the references, but the ones I knew made me smile!

Parents have tons of kids and like being poor-it feeds the soul of course-so the oldest runs away to thieve so she can send coin back to her siblings. (Mine - it's fantasy and it's the first thing that came to mind... lol)

Tamika: said...

I was never good at getting rid of my parents growing up!

MeganRebekah said...

Cute post!

I'm trying to figure out number ten though. Which book is that?

Patti said...

Tabitha: That sounds like a show I watched the other day.

Nisa: I like it.

Tamika: Neither was I, that's why I got into so much trouble.

Megan: the 10th one is mine, at least one I'm thinking of.

Susan R. Mills said...

Great ideas to get rid of the parents. My Monday morning brain isn't coming up with anything, though.

Paul Greci said...

I can't remember the book but the narrator said something like, "and my parents, you don't even want me to get started on them." And then you never saw them for the entire book.

Tiana Lei said...

I just found your blog, and I'm loving it :) In my WIP, the parents just leave the kid to his own devices. Then when things get interesting, they are in the hospital. Boring and unoriginal, I know, ha ha.

Patti said...

Susan: Another way is a lot of lying.

Paul: I've read books like that. The parents just seem to go MIA

Tiana: Thanks for coming by. Boring doesn't necessarily mean it's not effective.

patti said...

Wow, Patti! I'm really uneducated on YA but did read "The Book Thief," where the parents are killed by Nazis.

Blessings,
Patti

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

Okay, this was fun, but I can't figure out number 6. Help me out Patti!

Patti said...

Patti: Death of parents by any means definitely works.

Melissa: #6 could be a number of different books. I was thinking of the Hunger Games

T. Anne said...

O Ooh! I like the zombie idea. ALthough I think that poses big problems when they get hungry...

Carolyn V. said...

Ohh, I love the ideas! Mine was mom just disappeared. I need to be more creative with that. =)

Lisa and Laura said...

So much fun! We personally have workaholic parents in our manuscript. Not very creative.

Patti said...

T.Anne: That's why they get banished to a fenced in area, never to be seen from again.

Carolyn: disappearing is a mystery

LiLa: workaholic is my plan for the next book

Southpaw said...

How about your MC lives on a planet where once your 18 you die from a horrible disease - wasn't that an old Star Trek episode?

Patti said...

Southpaw: I remember that episode.

Robyn Campbell said...

So funny Patti. think I may have been bitten by a zombie last night, actually. :) At least I feel like it today.

Yup the ol' death to the parents always gets 'em right here. *she punches her heart* :0)

Patti said...

Robyn: Unfortunately sometimes it's a necessary evil.

Elana Johnson said...

Oooh, I've read the one where all the adults disappear. Very cool book.

My favorite thing to do is to make the parents emotionally unavailable. Like they're there, but not really there.

Heather Sunseri said...

Yeah, I guess YA books are much more interesting when the parents aren't in the way, huh? All those rules and stuff.

Katie Ganshert said...

What a comprehensive list! I'll have to remember this next time I need to get rid of my MC's parents. :)

Patti said...

Elana: I like the emotionally unavailable as well.l

Heather: Parents kind of suck the independence out of kids who need to roam and be out late at night.

Katie: I'm glad I could be of help.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hmm... child emancipation? JUST KIDDING! :0)

Jessie Oliveros said...

Ha! This was funny-esp enjoyed personal reference to Twilight. What no junk truck for you? My MC stays with her aunt and uncle during summer vacation, and maybe they are a little more relaxed than parents are wont to be, thus allowing her to get into all sorts of trouble.

Patti said...

Kristen: That's a good one. I'll have to add it to my list.

Jessie: I should have thought of that. I read a book where MC goes to live with grandma. BTW, I can't wait to read your book.

Natalie said...

Ha, ha. This is awesome Patti. I had to get rid of the parents in my first book too. They were both workaholics who weren't involved in their kids lives.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I just usually kill 'em off. Though at some point they usually come back in ghost form to teach one more lesson. ;)

Patti said...

Natalie: Funny how parents put a damper on things.

Karen: Coming back. I love that.

Stephanie Faris said...

This is something I've struggled with, so I'm glad someone else is having the same struggle! It was even harder once I was told to set my book in an even YOUNGER age group. So I had to put everything within walking distance and struggle to explain how it is four 12-year-olds would be allowed to roam the city unsupervised.