May 14th, 2011


In Which We Diverge (& #ROW80 Check-In)

Or, Life Happens

So, I've fallen off the old blogshere lately, but now it's time to jump back on.  However, I feel fully justified in my inadvertant blogus interruptus  because of this:


Fellow monkeys, I finished this book in three days, even with the majority of my time dedicated to day jobbery.  I'm not sure what else I actually did during those three days, including aforementioned day jobbery, but this book branded itself on my writing soul, much as Hunger Games did.

First of all, I want to know when young adult books got good.  In my adolescent days there was little or no middle ground between the Chronicles of Narnia and The Grey King, and the awesome power of the adult section, whose treasures were hoarded my the mighty dragon of a librarian from Gollum-like interlopers from the children's overly-cheery Technicolor reading room.  The school library wasn't much better-apparently VC Andrews' gothic family sagas with themes of incest were considered more appropriate reading material than Stephen King.

So what happened? Did the Harry Potter series, in all its wondrous world-building glory and teeth-gnashing flaws, open the door to darker material because adults enjoyed reading them, were as much obsessed with them, as their children?  Or is it because the books and their protagonist essentially grew up together?  Who knows?  I just know that I love it as an adult as much as I regret not having these books as a young adult.  Twenty years ago there was no such thiing as YA dystopia, and the sharp-eyed librarian would never had let me near Atwood's Handmaid's Tale or Huxley's Brave New Wo rld. For some reason Farenheit 451 was never on my suggested or required reading lists as an intreprid Book Adventurer even in high school.  Now the genres--a dirty word back then, or at least one with stereotyped connotations-boggle the mind, YA or otherwise.  And I rejoice in it.

There is, believe it or not, a point to all this rambling.  Because once you start learning the technical underpinnings of story architecture you begin to notice it everywhere, in books and movies and TV.  And appreciate it for when it's done well, as it is in Divergent.  Over the last five months we've talked a lot about plot structure and key scenes, character work with dreams and wardrobes and objects.  Whether one follows The Weekend Novelist or not, the same framework still applies to any well constructed, multi-leveled story--the tapestry may change, but its frame is still its frame, the craft to make the tapestry still the craft. Regardless of planning, pantsing, or, in my case, planting.

In short, everything I've been learning in TWN is there to be seen in Divergent.  Key Scenes at the right intervals of the Aristotle's Incline, fulfilling their duty not just on the main plot level, but also with the subplots; it's all beautifully interwoven.  Character dream work is there, as is wardrobe and objects.  Most importantly--and impressive--is the least little thing serves a greater purpose once the climatic scene sequence is put into motion.  Characters are fully developed and their arcs develop naturally with multiple levels of conflict that come to a head in the rise to resolution. The world building is, in a word, stunning.

So even if you're not a fan of dystopian literature or YA books, I would highly recommend it if only to see a well-crafted story told extraordinarily well.

  In #ROW80 news, I've gotten through all my First Encounters and climatic scene sequence, involving a thrilling chase and battle at sea.  Next is working on my Midoint.  Once I've completed my key scene work, I want to otal up a word count of them all so I can guage how much work as been done and how much is left to do.  I've decided to adjust my word count goals for Big Dang Project, because, frankly, I'm no good at meeting word count goals.  I do much better if I know WHAT I need to write rather than HOW MUCH.  It's works better for me if I let the story tell me how long it needs to be instead of the other way around, so I avoid wasting a lot itme cutting fluff later on that only went it so I could make a word count goal.  I prefer to be proactive, as it turns out to be much less painless.  Word count goals, I've found, are one of the most effective weapons in my Infernal Editor's arsenal, so best to run away with all the bullets now.

How about the rest of you, fellow ROW-ers?  What are your goals for this week?  And while you're at it, be sure to lend some support to your fellow galley slaves, thusly: