Skip this post unless you’re REALLY bored. I’ve hit the wall and I’m using it to work my way through it.
This novel writing thing is hard. I feel as if all of the progress that I made at the end of last year has come undone. I am at a complete loss on how to proceed. (Some of you are yelling at me to OUTLINE!!! But I am drawing a blank even when I try to outline!)
I wanted the book to be funny, but there’s nothing funny coming out of me right now. (Okay, that was unintentionally funny, because it can be taken the wrong way.) It’s easy to be funny in person or make snarky comments on a website, but true satire is HARD for me.
How do you achieve Seinfeld-esque wit or Chandler Bing sarcasm when all that’s flowing on the paper is knock-knock jokes? It’s horrible.
So, what’s funny? What makes me laugh in stories? Or more importantly, what kept me INTERESTED in stories, even when I wasn’t laughing?
STAR WARS: The banter between Hans Solo and Princess Leia made the Star Wars movies for me. I watched them over the holidays. It had been years since I had seen them. I know that I may get torpedoed for saying this, but the dialogue was, er, not so good. And yes, Episodes 4-6 had far superior dialogue than Episodes 1-3 did, but seriously, Episodes 4-6 didn’t exactly have great dialogue either.
I really think George Lucas owes his Star Wars success to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. They saved those movies. Without their banter, I honestly think the entire Star Wars franchise wouldn’t exist. Even Mark Hamil’s lines were cheesy to the point of punch-him-in-the-throat irritating. I was this close (picture fingers pinched together) to hurling my remote control at the screen during Luke Skywalker’s scenes. Whiny and annoying, he was. (Channeling Yoda, I am.)
HARRY POTTER: What did I like about Harry Potter? The entire wizarding world? That’s too broad. Let me mull this over. I liked the good vs. evil thing. Again, too broad. I liked the boarding school. Yeah, that’s getting more specific. Come to think of it, I’ve always liked boarding school stories. I grew up reading Enid Blyton’s “Twins At St. Clare’s” stories. What is it about boarding school that’s so appealing? I guess throwing a bunch of unsupervised, young, hormonally-driven people together in a confined space is a recipe for entertainment.
I remember how thrilled I was when I finally left home for college. I couldn’t wait for my parents to leave so that I could explore the university campus with my new friends. Maybe part of this nostalgia is what made Harry Potter so appealing to me. Interesting.
PERCY JACKSON: The reasons I liked the Percy Jackson books are fairly basic. Percy Jackson is funny and the story is based on Greek mythology, which I love. Nothing beats a good prophecy-driven quest.
I recently picked up a copy of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. It’s pretty good, but I just can’t get into it the same way I got into Percy Jackson. It feel as if it’s the same story, but with Norse gods, instead of Greek gods. I’m only part way through the book, so I realize that I haven’t given it a chance. I’ll finish the entire thing and perhaps include it as another “textbook” to study. So, the most interesting thing about these books for me is the foundation in myth.
GREGOR THE OVERLANDER: Gregor is very similar to other young adult fantasy heroes. He has an unfortunate “current” circumstance, is thrown into a “magical” situation, and turns out to be the “chosen” one with “special abilities.” Blah, blah, blah.
What made this book a little different for me was the whole “Alice in Wonderland” thing. Gregor and his 2-year old little sister accidentally fall down a laundry room chute and land in another world. They talk with animals and fight with swords. Gregor is a warrior. You see where I’m going with this? 😉
MY CONCLUSION: I didn’t realize that this post would evolve into an abridged young adult fantasy book review, but that’s what happens when I follow my “stream of consciousness.” So what have I learned?
I need banter, a boarding school and an “other world” tumble to make a story interesting for myself. “Special” ability is good – perhaps some levitating or mind control. Maybe a prophecy and a quest.
Add a touch of Indian mythology and this is my recipe. Time to work that into my novel.