"HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?" Francis Schaeffer

Friday, June 03, 2005

Writer's guidelines for a HARDY BOYS' story (found on Dr. Mohler's site)

Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster is also set to release a new set of books in The Hardy Boys series. The Hardy Boys books were a big part of my young reading life. I was introduced to the books by Mrs. Lewis in the third grade, who read The Tower Treasure to our class after lunch period. The first book was so popular that she read through several of the books over the course of the year. Nancy Drew never stood a chance.

I sometimes snuck a flashlight into bed in order to read the books under cover. We boys all wanted to be Frank or Joe Hardy, or at least to solve mysteries, drive fast cars and boats, and experience various adventures. The books were safe, wholesome, and interesting.

It looks like the series will stay that way. Harper's Magazine published a leaked excerpt from the writers' guidelines for the new series in its June 2005 issue [this document is not available on-line]. Nothing objectionable here. The boys are brave and true--and unemotional. "There's nothing that could drive Frank or Joe to tears because they're too gutsy and determined to behave that way." No sniveling cry-babies here.

Look carefully at these instructions: "Dialogue no-no's include long speeches, cursing, vulgar references, and taking the Lord's name in vain (including the term 'jeez'). For example: Positive, upbeat: 'Wow!' 'All right!' 'Great!' 'Believe it!' Negative, sarcastic: 'Rats!' ;'Yeah, right' 'Yeah, yeah' 'Yuck!' 'Oh, boy." The guidelines also suggest grunts in the place of expletives in the case of stress or pain.

There's more: "As mentioned previously, this is a modernized series, with a healthy dose of realism. This has to carry over into the types of crimes that the Hardys tackle. Without exception, these should be major, modern, and filled with action. . . . Murder is acceptable, as long as you restrain yourself from passing along all the gory details. In other words, someone can be shot and killed, but the reader's eyes must be averted from the resulting puddles of blood."

As for sex: "There isn't any, not even in the Hardys stories of today. Bayport's teenagers do display a healthy interest in the opposite sex. Romantic situations, however, can never be allowed to develop beyond the kissing and hugging stage." The writers were further instructed to avoid all sexual references, off-color remarks, and references to drugs. The boys are allowed to eat fast food and hang out at the mall.

Finally, "End your penultimate chapter with a major cliffhanger. The final chapter then features the villain being foiled, killed, and/or captured, as our heroes bask in glory."

This little corner of civilization has been saved, earthlings.

JB here: I also thrilled to the Hardy Boy's as a child. At least one of my teachers would read them to the class. I could hardly stand it when she would finish a chapter and put the book away "until tomorrow."
Finally, I was semi-crushed when I found out, as an adult, that there was no such author named "Franklin Dixon" to say nothing of "Caroline Keane." I spent 25 years worshipping these people. However, there was a Canadian man, who's name escapes me, who did write the vast majority of the Hardy Boys books. Kudos to him. Kudos to the Hardy Boys. They were great fun. I read every one I could get my hands on.

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