June 12th, 2011


In Which We Incite A Riot (& #ROW80)

Or, Joining The Kerfluffle

First, there was the grand Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing broo-hah, the epic Pantsing vs. Pantsing Cage Match, and the great Print Books vs. E-Reader debate.

Now we have the Great Blunder That Failed To Tear YA Literature Asunder (or something else equally rhymey). Everything that needs to be said has probably already been said, thanks to the mushroom cloud of response provided by Twitter hashtag #YASaves (well done there, I feel).

I’ve already gone into my own awe and envy regarding the caliber of YA literature today versus when I was a young monkey prowling the adult section of my local library because there wasn’t much YA literature for nerds back then, other than Chronicles of Narnia and the Grey King, both of which I loved. So I won’t go into it again here, other than to reiterate how much I love the darkness and fearless confrontation with the issues affecting their readership. Teenage years are dark, trying and confusing times, and I say the more literature out there providing solace and guidance, the better. 

What I will say is I’m glad. Thrilled, even. Because—and this touches on the great Print versus E-Reader debate—that as one-sided as the article was, there was no mention of challenging, banning or censoring any of the books in question. I also applaud the mother in question for taking responsibility for her daughter’s reading habits, but did NOT immediately decide that if her daughter should not be reading such books, then neither should anyone else's.

Maybe I’m being a naïve optimist here, but I can’t help but feel with the advent of E-Readers, online music sources, Netflix and YouTube, censorship will never, ever triumph over Good. It may win a few skirmishes here and there, maybe even a battle or two, but with time these will become few and far between. Here’s why:

You can burn piles of books, CDs and DVDs until you turn blue in the face with your own constipated self-righteousness. You can dance around the flames with pitchforks and burning torches, demanding the head of the monster or the witch to grace your little barbeque. You can spew bile and hatred and uneducated blather until the cows, wherever they’ve wandered off to, come home.

But once something uploads to the Dire and Miraculous (and often Silly) Interwebz, it is there forever. Every bookstore on the planet could be forced to take down their online stores and websites and their physical locations burned to the ground by a dancing, fiery mob, but the books will still be there, on the web. And let’s face it: for every generation who feels they’ve got one up on technology, the next one comes along to invent even better technology with which to confuse the previous one. And all those challenged, banned, and censored books will be there, waiting for a whole flock of new readers to marvel at why they were challenged, banned, and censored in the first place.

ROW80 Check-In

One step forward, two steps back this week, yet progress was still had. I've been reading Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel and in a fit of inspired pique ripped apart my entire opening scene sequence.  I'll still use some of it, just in a different order.  Also, rather than just setting up my plot and subplots, I've come up with a way to bring everything together during the Inciting Incident, thus moving it forward in time and thus created fairly immediate stakes.  This came from Maas' advice to add tension to every page, because one cannot have too much. Looking back at some of the recent books I couldn't put down (The Hunger Games, Divergent) I realized he's quite right.  So, back to the drawing board with a carton of red pens to murder my darling for it's own good.

My Infernal Editor was enraged by this act, as he was trying to convince me it was fine, and damned-near perfect.  I threatened to sic the Ninja Katz on him if he didn't shut it, the bastard.  Part of being writer is recognizing the difference between gut instinct and distraction from your true purpose as presented by you own Infernal Editor.