Again...now see, for those who have been following me, you may have heard me talk about the antagonist and how to balance making him too evil versus making him somewhat relatable. It seems that's a little different for middle grade books, which is the genre I'm writing for.
In my book, the bad guy, towards the end, wants the children following him dead. Just flat out, dead. He's even willing to shoot one (and does, in the leg) to get what he wants.
Too violent, my agent says.
And she's probably right - and here's why. When your antagonist is an alien, a monster, a wizard or any other kind of fantastic creature, they can be as bad as you need them to be. Why? Because they're NOT REAL.
My bad guy is a human guy. A regular guy. A professor. So if he's really really bad, that could be TOO realistic and scary. See, the fantasy realm, especially for middle grade and YA, allows the bad guys to have no morals, to be truly evil, because they're not real people. But to have a real person display those characteristics to modern day eleven year-old boys, well, that's just a little close to home.
So, instead of wanting them to die, and shooting the one in the leg, my agent suggested the shot be accidental (which is fine because I make that into a suspenseful but still funny scene) and later on to leave them tied to a tree so that they'll be arrested as spies, rather than killed in the war.
Subtle differences, neither of which I think diminishes the bad guy's bad-guyness, but not so harsh as to make teachers and parents gasp when they read it to their class or their kids so them what they're reading.
Tomorrow I'll talk about the subplot changes...that's gonna be tricky...
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Great time had at the SCBWI conference on Saturday! And a big hello to my friends from that conference who've hopefully joined us here....