So, for all you reading who are not affiliated with my creative writing class, one of my assignments is to post my journal reports. They will basically discuss what I've read, written, and learned from said activities over the last week. I think they'll help me get started posting on this blog, writing about things that interest me.
So this week I read the second book in the Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld and The Last Knight by Hilari Bell. They are both YA fantasy novels although the Midnighters book smacks of science fiction with its use of numbers and technology. I also read three picture books by Rick Walton. As I read the YA books I paid attention to how the writers build a believable world with details and strong characters while maintaining a fast pace. More about the importance of this later. The picture books had something different for me to look at, both literally and figuratively. Picture books have to hold the attention of a child and the parent, and in Rick Walton's books the balance was there. What intrigued me was how the pictures correspond with the words, changing the meaning or adding layers or humor to the text. I wondered if a picture book writer intends the illustrations to complete the text or if the illustrator makes that decision.
So, back to the YA world building: I am currently working on a YA fantasy and am about to start the first revision. Needless to say, it's kind of rough right now. After reading through it I realized the pace is nice and fast but there aren't enough details to make my characters' situation or motivations feel real. In rereading I raced through the draft without absorbing much. In my journal the week I wrote down the problems I saw in my draft and how I would fix them. These include tweaking my characters so they're consistent throughout the book, changing scenes that don't develop the plot or the characters, and filling in logic holes, like why my responsible, family-oriented main character wouldn't call home when she's swept away on a life-changing quest (she does; she has to).
So, here's some of my notes, developing my characters:
Sarah (16 year old girl):
- Sarah is very smart and responsible but she doesn't trust herself to contribute anything because she is incapable of working magic in a world where most people can.
- She wants to be heard and noticed but is practical enough to know she will have to work extra-hard to succeed even in a small way - she's unlikely to ever lead.
- She goes to help Ryan because no one else is calm and responsible enough to do it.
Ryan (17 year old boy):
- Easy life, rich parents. Never has had to push or fight for anything in his life. Not terribly deep, impish, flirtatious, impulsive, lucky, gifted.
- His actions cause trouble for everyone and force him to confront the serious, darker side of his nature - he learns firsthand about consequences.
Thomas (26 year old man):
- The somewhat aged hero turned mentor. He's used to saving people but when the two kids need help he has to take on a new responsibility.
That's enough of that. The writing's coming along; I've developed some ideas about the picture book I'm going to write but even the ideas are as yet works in progress.
'Til next time, keep reading!