The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No writing on Thursday due to family stuff, but lots of writing on Fri. and Sat. So much that I lost focus and eventually derailed myself, heading off in unhelpful directions. I think it won't be a big deal to get back into gear, though. Some of what I did is okay; I just need to backtrack and figure out what the story was doing on its own before I made it trail off into weird detours of thought.

In discussion of another book, a writer friend was saying something that touched on a point that's already been nagging me in the back of my mind. WF says, basically, that book characters are sometimes tagged as being worth caring about because they have some kind of artistic sensitivity (my words, not WF's). I agree with this. (think Girl with a Pearl Earring, A Northern Light, and a million other books that aren't popping to mind right now.) Also agree that often in YAs and midgrades, the artistically sensitive MC is stuck or trapped somewhere, and the unspoken implication is that everybody else who's stuck or trapped with him/her, but who doesn't have this sensitivity or gift, is basically cannon fodder. We're rooting for the MC get free from his/her present situation because clearly this person is one step above and deserves better.

So what I'm thinking is that this gifted MC who's stuck or trapped is a shorthand tag writers sometimes use to make the stuck/trapped situation more touching. And it's used so much, and it's so accepted, that the reader's probably going to wonder why an average MC who doesn't have any special "gift" deserves to be freed or rescued. This speaks directly to the former GN ms. The MC isn't super smart and has no particular talent. Also, since she's a girl and I'm the one who wrote her, she's probably not very likable, either. What I'd like to do is focus on the situation being wrong, for everyone--not make somebody the star who deserves to be free. Everyone in the story deserves better.

Thinking about it, what the shorthand does is work backwards. It invests you in this clearly very special character so that you then start considering the actual situation more deeply. But I don't like that. It's a tool a writer can use to good effect--but I don't like what it implies.

As I see it now, the only choice is to get raked over the coals for having a MC that isn't special or outstanding enough and therefore I didn't give the reader a reason to care. However, you can do a lot by stating things straight out in the ms. I may be able to find ways to get the reader to focus on the system, the situation. Will see. I'm a little leery because that's what got me off track yesterday, was letting my thoughts overwhelm the story.

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