August 28th, 2008


Kid writing thoughts

In sarah_prineas's journal, there's a discussion going on about how the skillset for writing for kids is different from that for writing adults.

My first thought of course was to say it isn't, but for middle grade (older elementary school and preteen) fiction, at least, there are subtle differences. One of them that occurred to me as the conversation went on: to write for kids, you need to see kids as characters first, and children second.

And then I got to thinking of pmsamphire's post on how not to do an American accent. He talks about how you should never write an Elf, for instance, but only a character who is an elf.

And I think that's it exactly: in kids' fiction--and teen and adult fiction with younger characters in it, too--you need to never write a Child, only characters who are children.

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star wars update

Drinking from the post-apocalyptic well

It seems the past few weeks I just keep adding and adding books to the post-apocalyptic YA reading list. Post-apoc YA books that are either new or due out in the next few months include (and I have this suspicion there must be others I'm missing--anything else that should be there?):

- The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen (April 2008)
- The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (October 2008)
- The Diamond of Darkhold, by Jeanne DuPrau (August 2008)
- The Other Side of the Island, by Allegra Goodman (September 2008)
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan (March 2009)
- And, umm, Bones of Faerie, by this Janni Lee Simner person (January 2009)

I'm beginning to wonder, honestly, if it's something in the water. :-) (In a post-apocalyptic world it would be, right?) Certainly something in the air these past few years much be spawning so much in this particular YA genre--and I'm not convinced that it's just that we live in dire times, though that's part of it. But living in dire times isn't really all that new a thing. I think that probably half my life or so, all told, we've probably lived in what were considered dire times.

The thing that fascinates me is that, when I started writing Bones of Faerie, it seemed no one was writing post-apocalyptic fiction. Writing something post-apocalyptic seemed an awfully child-of-the-cold-war thing to do, and I kind of wondered if that would be a problem--but I put those concerns aside, because this was a book I really really wanted to write.

I'm reminded of this notebook I have from high school, with a page in it filled with names for characters. Around the time my peers began having children, I stumbled upon that list, and all those names I loved and wanted to use? They were the names my friends were giving to their kids. Whatever made me like those names at 15, it was making everyone like those names.

It's so strange, how things we don't see influence us all in similar ways sometimes, and even afterwards, we can't quite say what those things are.

(no subject)

Dear Protagonist Who When It Comes Right Down to It I've Been Through An Awful Lot With,

You know, this place feels sort of empty without you.

No, no, I know you'll be back. It's not like you're moving out for good yet. You're just spending some time with a few critiquers--it's sort of like the character equivalent of summer camp. I bet they let you stay up late and eat chocolate and set things on fire all you want.

Not that I'd know. I'm being good, see. I haven't opened any of your files. I haven't called just to see if you're okay. I know how these things are--the revisions will go better, if I stay away for a little bit. And it's not like you're not grown-up enough these days to be on your own, for a little while at least.

Besides, I have things to do. I've put off a lot on account of you, and it's about time I started catching up. I know how summer camp is. You'll be back before I know it. The truth is, you probably won't be gone nearly long enough.

Only, you know, this place does feel sort of empty without you.