Thursday, February 25, 2010

LOST: The Lost Episode

I’ve got a secret. I’ve had to sit on this news for a long time, but I finally got the go-ahead to let you all know about it.
Are you ready?
I WROTE AN EPISODE OF LOST! Yeah!
When JJ Abrams called me up I couldn’t believe it. Especially after I stayed faithful to Joss but kinda broke up with some of JJ’s shows. But that’s all water under the bridge. “Kiki,” he said, to which I responded, “Please never call me that again.” “Kiersten,” he corrected, “you’ve been a loyal watcher of LOST since you ordered the first two seasons on DVD to stay sane when Dojo was a newborn and never, ever slept. You know every plot thread, every tiny, insignificant side character, every single plot element chosen by our specially trained monkeys throwing darts at a poster board. And so, since this is the last season, I wanted to let you write an episode!”
Of course I said yes. I give you:
LOST: SEASON SIX: EPISODE X
By Kiersten White
EXT. RANDOM STRETCH OF DENSE JUNGLE. Exhausted and sweaty Losties SAWYER and KATE come hacking through the jungle.
KATE
Where are we going again?
SAWYER
Heck if I know, Freckles. All I know is, we’re contractually obligated to spend a certain portion of every episode trekking stolidly through this gosh-forsaken jungle. So here we are, sweating, because that’s what we do on this show.
KATE
I meant, where are we going in our relationship?
SAWYER
Golldernit, I don’t know, woman! First they wanted you with Jack, then with me, then with Jack, then I was with that blond chick with the freaky cleavage, but now she’s dead and we might be too, and even if I could figure out what in the blue blazes is going on, I think the fans’d rather see me and Jack get together than you get a happy ending.
KATE
I suppose I’m rather tired of my storylines, too.
SAWYER
Ain’t it the truth, Sweetheart.
CUT TO ANOTHER SECTION OF THE JUNGLE, having provided no resolution on the Kate/Sawyer situation, and even if they had gotten together, you’d know they secretly wanted to be with someone else. Unless they don’t actually get together, in which case they want to be with each other.
This section of the jungle contains RANDOM HUGE STONE POLAR BEAR STATUE WITH INEXPLICABLE HYROGLIPHICS COVERING THE WHOLE THING. ALSO, THE POLAR BEAR HAS ONLY FOUR TOES.
SAYID
All I’m saying is, it’s been several episodes and I’ve yet to lose another girlfriend in a horribly violent manner.
HURLEY
Dude, you just got shot!
SAYID
Yes, but I am a stalwart torturer. You can only hurt me by killing the women who bring out my tender, nurturing side. Now I am a bitter shell of my former self, tricked into working for Benjamin Linus.
BEN
Did someone say my name?
HURLEY
Are you here to give us some answers?
BEN
No. I’m going to tell you that I’m going to give you some answers, at which point you will not demand said answers, but will instead blindly agree to follow me through the jungle to obtain those answers knowing full well I'm either manipulating you or leading you to your deaths. And now we will have several seconds of intense eye contact.
SAYID
. . .
BEN
. . .
HURLEY
Wait, do I get to have intense eye contact to this swelling, ominous music, too?
SAYID
No, because you are the comic relief, and any storyline you are ever given that’s at all interesting dead ends because the actresses are killed off from the show for drunk driving.
HURLEY
Alright. Come on, let’s go on our trek in which no answers will ever be given, but we might find another question!
SAYID
One can only hope. Also, maybe some ghostly visitations so I can see some of my hot dead girlfriends.
LOCKE
Did someone call for a ghostly visitation and some inane mumbo jumbo that doesn’t explain anything?
LOCKE smiles creepily.
CUT TO INTERIOR OF BROKEN DOWN HOUSE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN EXPLAINED AND WILL NEVER BE EXPLAINED. JACK is angrily throwing dishes, smashing everything in sight. Finally, overcome with emotion, he falls to his knees in front of GIANT STUFFED POLAR BEAR.
JACK, crying
Why am I crying again? Why do I cry in every single episode? Don’t they know I want to pursue a career in movies? And still they have me break down like a little girl at every single emotional provocation! Sure, I can turn on the waterworks like nobody’s business, but I’m not a one-trick pony! And where the crap is my dead dad?
CUT TO EXT. JUNGLE. No one is in the shot, but we can hear a ghostly shout echoing through the trees.
GHOSTLY SHOUT
WALT! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!
CUT TO DARK CAVE OVERLOOKING THE OCEAN. A small child in ragged clothing stares calmly out at the waves. He pulls out a stone tablet with dozens of things crossed out. Picking up a rock, he slowly crosses out three more items:
EGGS
MILK
BREAD
CUT TO ANOTHER DARK CAVE OVERLOOKING THE OCEAN. Some character who was previously dead stands, looking calmly out over the waves. Behind him we can just see the names of all of the characters on the island, most of whom we’ve already forgotten or wish we could. Nearly all of them are crossed out except BOONE, which has little hearts drawn around it.
IAN SOMMERHOLDER stands in the trees overlooking all of the chaos, and smiles.
BOONE
I’m back. And now? I’m a VAMPIRE.
THE END

Friday, February 19, 2010

And DONE!

For now, at least. I declare The Sequel sufficiently First Drafted. Which is a bit misleading, considering what I'll send Erica is actually a sixth draft, but still.

And let me tell you, as hard as it was cutting ten thousand words from PARANORMALCY before subbing it, you know what is even harder? ADDING SEVENTEEN THOUSAND WORDS.

Oy. From now on I'll stick to overwriting, because underwriting is way more work to fix.

Regardless, I think the result works. This book has some of my favorite scenes I've ever written, and Evie, my intrepid narrator, didn't fail me. I love that girl. Anyone who thinks things like, "That did it. Vamp-guy was going down. How hard could it be to beat a corpse senseless?" is more than a little fun to write.

I wish I could tell you more about it, but that's what sucks about writing a sequel before the first book ever comes out. Ah well. Suffice it to say, I love this book, and I hope you will, too. And I really hope my editor does. But in the meantime, I declare this next week the Week of Excessive Sleeping.

I've earned it.

Special thanks, as always, to my invaluable readers: Natalie (my one and only alpha reader), Steph (without whose opinion and expert editorial advice I would never, ever send a book to my editor), Renee, and Carrie. And of course my freaking fantastic agent Michelle Wolfson, who loves the characters as much as I do and helped me tweak what needed tweakage.

And thanks to Hot Stuff, who is always supportive even if he does recommend killing off characters at random, and my two beautiful kids, who did everything they could to try and keep this book from ever being written. Because life's no fun without challenges, right?

And finally, thanks to HarperTeen for buying PARANORMALCY and two sequels, so that I could keep living in Evie's entertaining head. Yay HarperTeen! Yay Editor Erica!

YAY SLEEP.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Query Week!

I try to avoid being too helpful in general, lest people come to expect it of me and are then disappointed or shocked when they come to my blog to find my latest Yeti-Leprechaun romance, or Teen Drama Screenplay. However, I thought I'd dedicate a few days to queries.

And, to start us out with a bang, a guest post by my fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson! She took the time to go over my FLASH query, posted the other day, and tell us what worked for her about it as well as some general query advice. (You may want to re-read my query first, but you don't have to.) (In fact, there are very few things you have to do on my blog because guess what? I'll never know!) With no further ado, I give you Michelle.

Having read how writers analyze and agonize over agents’ form letter rejections, I am a little bit hesitant to post my comments on FLASH here for all eternity. But really, even though a query is very important, you should remember that it is mostly because it is a way to get an agent’s attention. Ultimately it is the writing that matters. So write your query with the goal of getting pages requested. With every word, you should be thinking, is this going to make her request pages? If not, cut it out.

You may have noticed that since I don’t have a blog, whenever I have a chance to post on someone else’s, my true verbal diarrhea kicks in. In short, I would be a terrible query letter writer myself. But I will stop with the general advice (unless some more occurs to me) and tell you all the things I loved about Kiersten’s FLASH query. Kiersten may edit this down, so if it makes sense, you should assume she did so. (Note from Kiersten: I didn't change a word. Michelle underestimates herself.)

That first sentence is fine. I do like word count to be in there somewhere since unfortunately I do have to rule out manuscripts that are 18K words or 300K words, and knowing that you know what genre it falls into is always nice. But if you jump right in, that’s fine too. These aren’t make it or break it issues in my mind, so don’t stress about them.

Ok, 1st line. You’d think a girl who can see the future could avoid being kidnapped. I read that and thought Yes, I would have thought that. Tell me why she didn’t. I felt like I was already hooked. I really wanted to know why someone who could see the future wouldn’t be able to avoid being kidnapped. And she answers with an explanation of how she sees the future as well.

Next paragraph—now here we up the stakes right away as Sarah gets kidnapped at gunpoint. This is mainly a paragraph that describes the plot, but she sticks to the very main points and covers a lot of ground here. Speaking from the perspective of having read the manuscript, this is really a perfectly edited down version of the events. She cut out plenty of major events and characters but still gives me a sense of the major driving plot points.

In the next paragraph I feel like there’s more of an emphasis on the emotional conflicts and she addresses what would be the obvious question-why not just have Sarah touch Will and find out how he really feels-and lays out the ultimate high stakes involved—losing her life, her sanity, etc. all to find out if Will is really the man of her dreams.

On to her bio-short and sweet. She published a short story, fine. If she hadn’t, that’s fine too. But don’t apologize for not having publication credits. You don’t have to tell us you won your 3rd grade creative writing essay contest.

So this is actually way more analysis of the query than I gave it at the time. I tend to have fairly commercial taste and so if a story intrigues me, I’ll take a chance on the writing. However, I have found over the years, that there is a correlation between well written queries and well written manuscripts, so I do pay attention to the writing itself and not just the plot.

Finally, to quote myself in an interview that just got posted earlier this week and sounded pretty smart if I do say so myself, re queries: The most important thing to realize is that this is a numbers game and you have to be in it to win it. If you don’t send your query out there, and most likely out there to a lot of agents, you will never get published. On the other hand, if you are getting passed on over and over, perhaps your query isn’t doing a good job representing your work and you should make some changes to it. Let it be a marketing tool for you.

You should also realize that you should spend a decent amount of time and energy on the thing (i.e. the query letter) that is going to decide whether or not an agent will look at part or all of the manuscript that you spent the last year working on. Don’t you think that deserves more than an hour of your time? I do.

So with that in mind, good luck to you all with your queries!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines?

Hot Stuff is thinking about going into the greeting card business. Observe the card he made for me:
Front.

Inside.

From this we can deduce one of several things.

A) I need to work harder at entertaining Hot Stuff, but even though not a day goes by that he thinks about me and smiles, he still nobly loves me.

B) Hot Stuff should probably stop writing cards at 1 AM.

C) This line of cards is genius--people will think you're saying something nice, but really, you hate them.

D) We spent the whole day laughing about this, thus disproving the card's claim.

Here's hoping you have or find that special someone who never makes you smile.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Which I Blabber

As I think I mentioned, I'm neck deep in edits trying to get The Sequel ready for Agent Michelle and Editor Erica. I also Think I'll start capitalizing Random Things throughout this Blog Post, because that isn't at All Annoying or anything.

So I lost a day to food poisoning. (Dear Panda Express: Not only are you guilty of false advertising [in addition to the "gourmet" aspect of your claims, I have never once seen any panda on your menu], your food is gross and you tried to poison me. Well HA! I didn't die! So you can take your horrible stomach cramps and drown in your own grease! NEVER AGAIN, Panda Express. NEVER AGAIN.) (Whew. Umm, sorry guys. I'm a little bitter.) (Best part of it was dreaming that my stomach really hurt and my son was lying on top of me, making it hurt even more, and then waking up to find he was, in fact, lying on top of my stomach. A more adorable variation of the Hag, I suppose.) (How about another parenthetical?)

And then I lost a paragraph to random parenthetical tangents. But yesterday was not a loss, considering I got to go hang out with a couple of Very Cool Authors, Becca Fitzpatrick and Lisa McMann. We met for lunch and they were funny and delightful. (And really hot, too. What's up with YA authors?) (I mean, umm, not that I'm saying I'm hot or anything. But you could, if you wanted to.) (But if you saw me this morning you'd be more likely to link to that hag definition again.)

Me, Lisa, and Becca. They both have pretty hair. And yes, I'll say it for you: "Lisa's shirt is awesomesauce!"

Then later that night I went to a local signing. They both read from their books (Lisa is a horrible, horrible tease and read from something that isn't coming out for a YEAR-AND-A-HALF--Lisa, you are a wicked person), and then did a Q&A. The best part was their banter and interaction. I think it's so smart of publishers to have authors tour together. That way the weight of "performing" isn't solely on one person. These two were very funny together. And Becca, who is an absolute sweetheart, remembered me saying at lunch that I have a hard time talking about what my book is "about" in person, and so put me on the spot by pointing me out and having me say what my book is about! Becca, someday I will return the favor. (Just kidding. I was wildly flattered to be pointed out in such illustrious company.)

Other than that, I can't remember what this blog post was about. You probably can't, either, although I have a sneaking suspicion it was never about anything at all. Blame Editing Brain. It leaves very little room for coherency.

So, to sum up: Panda Express = BAD. Lisa McMann and Becca Fitzpatrick = GOOD. Staying in my pajamas all day because I can't be bothered to dress when I've got edits to finish = BUSINESS AS USUAL.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FLASH Query

Abby Stevens requested to see my query for FLASH. Keep in mind that this isn't the same book as PARANORMALCY, but it is the book that got me my ridiculously fabulous agent, Michelle Wolfson. So, here you go. (Incidentally, this was one of three versions--all of which got requests to see further material.)

Dear Ms Wolfson,

I would love to work with you, and hope you'll be interested in my 77,000 word YA novel Flash.

You’d think a girl who can see the future could avoid being kidnapped. But eighteen-year-old Sarah hates her confusing and painful flashes of the future, triggered by a personal connection or skin contact, and is trying desperately to suppress them.

However, when Keane Industries recruits her at gunpoint, she has to figure out how to use her abilities to give them a competitive edge or they’ll destroy everyone she loves. Imprisoned in a secluded house, she meets intelligent and caring Will. He's in charge of training her to control the flashes, but she's seen him before: every night in her dreams for the last three years she’s been in love with him. Devastated to finally find him under such horrible circumstances, Sarah is nonetheless drawn in, unable to resist the future she’s seen.

But the trust she's slowly placing in Will shatters when she flashes on him telling the President of Keane Industries that he’s got her completely under control. One touch is all it would take to know how he truly feels, but with increasingly violent reactions to the flashes, she worries that she’ll lose her grasp on reality completely. Her future hangs on one choice: accept her fate as the pawn of powerful men, or risk losing everything—including her sanity—to find out if Will really is the man of her dreams.

My novelette, Tangle, was featured in the May 2008 issue of Leading Edge magazine. I graduated in 2004 with a BA in English, and have been freelance writing and editing ever since. I would be happy to send you a partial or the full manuscript of
Flash. Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,

Your future favorite client in the whole entire world*


So there it is. I didn't touch it at all, tempting as it may have been. FLASH is obviously a very different novel than PARANORMALCY, a little older and without as much humor. It's also third person where Para is first. But man, I still love that book. Hopefully I can go back to that series one of these days.

Besides which, FLASH got me Michelle, and we all know how well that turned out!

The hardest part of writing this query was deciding which details to include. I left out one of the main characters--James, my darling, darling James--entirely; I couldn't figure out a concise, snappy way to include him. And in the end it's a story about Sarah learning to deal with her abilities and deciding whether or not to let Will in. So that's what the query focused on. Since I couldn't find much about Michelle to personalize it, I kept the intro short and sweet. And the bio paragraph is why I recommend trying to get some short fiction published--I got far more requests for material when I had a published story to mention than when all I had was a degree and freelancing.

Would you guys be interested in a mini-query workshop? It might have to wait until next week since I'm nose-deep in The Sequel edits right now, but it could be interesting. I'm a lot better at fixing other people's queries than I ever was at fixing my own.


*Not the actual signature

Monday, February 8, 2010

Literary Classics = VIDEO GAME GENIUS

The other day I saw an advertisement for a new video game: Dante's INFERNO. And I was left speechless. Who thought of this? Who read that and said, "Hey, I've GOT IT, GUYS! VIDEO GAME!"? Who signed off on it?

And, more importantly, how can I cash in on this trend?

Initially I was going to adapt Paradise Lost, but it felt too obvious to have Satan as the hero, fighting to overthrow the totalitarian government. Le Morte d'Arthur, yawn, everyone's already done Arthur and his boring table. The Canterbury Tales had promise, but one can only deal with the Wife of Bath so long before realizing she has no video game potential whatsoever.

Then it hit me--I'm taking it one step further! Instead of adapting a classic piece of literature, I'm going to turn a classic poem into a video game!

I give you, "Batter my heart, three person'd God," written by John Donne and adapted for violent mayhem by Kiersten White. For my presentation, I'll post the poem and give directions for how it'll play out.

"Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;"

Set in the idyllic town of My Heart, our hardy peasants go about their lives, ignoring the entreaties of their peaceful deity. Until one day it becomes too much, and he becomes the Three Person'd God--two legs, but three torsos and heads! One of fire, one of ice, and one of solid rock. Sure, it makes no sense with the poem considering Donne was a devout Catholic referencing the Holy Trinity, but just imagine how freaking awesome it's going to look!

So watch out, My Heart. Three Person'd God is seriously ticked, and he's about to come battering!

"That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new."

Our hero, young Mend, must dodge the destruction as the town is destroyed around him. Watch the villagers run in terror, lit on fire, trampled, and sucked up into tornados!

"I, like an usurpt towne, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,"

On the second level, Mend must complete a series of tasks to try and make peace with the terrible Three Person'd God, including conquering the next town and converting them. His weapons include whips, pitchforks, and a catapult. A FLAMING catapult!

"Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely I love you, and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:"

On the third level, we learn that Mend's true love, Mee, has been captured by enemies! Overcome with guilt for running out of the village and leaving her behind, he must retrieve her before her betrothal ends in a marriage to the rival village leader. He calls upon his allies, Reason and Viceroy, to help. Reason is the wind personified, and Viceroy is a clever talking cow (also providing comic relief with numerous carbon monoxide emissions jokes).

"Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee,"

On level four, Mee has been successfully retrieved--but too late! Now Mend must not only dodge the fiery darts and crushing stones of the angry Three Person'd God, but find a magistrate who hasn't run yet so he can divorce Mee from Mend's enemie! And, in the meantime, also find the only safe place to hide Mee, the local prison. But with the entire town covered in ice, that's easier said than done!

"For I, Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor chast, except you ravish mee."

On level five, rather than deal with the graphic literal interpretation of the final lines (and get an M for Mature rating, which we'll avoid to try and draw the family crowd), we change them to, "Nor chased, except you radish mee." It's revealed through Viceroy the Clever Talking Cow that the only way to appease the Three Person'd God is by pelting the fairest maiden of the land--Mee--with radishes! Now it's race to see who can collect the most radishes and pelt poor (but remarkably swift) Mee with them before the Three Person'd God destroys the town once and for all.

So! What do you think? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I've got a future in the video game industry. Next up for adaptation? John Keats' La Belle Dame sans Merci--But with a Machine Gun!

(Kiersten White: Making her English Degree proud since 2004!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just Who's Driving This Thing, Anyway?

(I always hesitate to give writing advice because everyone writes differently—and they should. My method is not and should not be your method. Besides which, none of you have read my books yet, and you could very well want to gouge your eyes out when you do. But only if you hate really amazingly earth-shatteringly mind-bendingly good things.)

(You know I’m kidding, right? Right.)

Onto our topic of characterizations, and why some work when others don’t. I’ve seen many sheets and forms for character details. Those can be helpful, but details don’t make a character, just like assigning one “strong” personality trait won’t keep your MC from being bland. I think there is a simple test you can do to determine whether or not your narrator/main character is a real, fleshed-out person and not just something you use to tell your story.

Think about your character. Now, strip away the plot. All of it. Take away the love interest. Take away the paranormal aspects. Take away the political intrigue and impending war. Take away the engagement to a tempestuous Duke. Take away the evil leprechaun overlord trying to steal her rainbow.

Is there anything left?

If you take away the plot and you still have a character that is compelling and interesting—one you’d want to spend time with over the course of a day, or in a different story—I think you’ve succeeded.

Honestly, I can’t tell you my characters’ birthdays, or what their second grade teacher’s name was, or what their favorite flavor of ice cream is, but I can tell you this: I know them. I like them. If I had to take Evie out of IPCA, take away The Boy, take away the story, I’d still want to spend time with her. I hope you would, too.

Let’s apply this to Lisa McMann’s WAKE. If the MC didn’t fall into dreams, I think she’d still be an intriguing character, don’t you? And Elizabeth Bennett (which, yes, I know it is SACRILEGE to even think of taking away Mr Darcy, but work with me here) would be interesting outside of her plot. Think about your favorite books and apply this test—I’m very confident that your favorite characters can withstand the removal of their plots. This isn't to say that plot-driven books are bad. Quite the contrary. But even if your novel is plot-driven, it needs to be driven by real, three-dimensional, interesting characters or it won't work. Somebody's got to steer the dang thing, after all.

To summarize: Characters shouldn’t be vehicles for stories. Stories should be vehicles for characters.

And that is all I have to say about that. You are free to go about your day, confident in the assurance that I will not force any advice whatsoever on you for at least a fortnight. And now I’ve got to go look up what a fortnight is and figure out when next I can vomit my ideas all over the internet.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My, What Nice, Rounded Characters You Have, Grandma!

I’ve been reading. A lot. I tend to go in spurts and not read much for a while, then gorge myself while I’m between projects. And I’ve got a confession.

I’m a vicious reader.

No, really. That’s why I almost never give my opinion on books on this blog. I just don’t like many of them. And it’s not that I hate them—there are very few books that I really hate—I simply don’t love them, and so see no reason to talk about it. So it’s a bit of a contradiction, because while I love, love, LOVE reading, there aren’t many books that I love.

There’s a troubling trend I’ve been seeing in many of the books I’ve been reading lately. Even though they’re written with a first person narrator, I never feel like I really know the MC. Too many of them seem like carbon copies of each other, bland vehicles through which the story is told. Things happen to them and around them, but the heroine never becomes a person. She’s just the story.

A lot of writers try to get around this by giving their heroine something to “set her apart.” So, let’s say my hero, Mary Sue, is moderately pretty, hasn’t ever dated much, and is hot hot hot for her Yeti next-door-neighbor, even though their love is fated never to work and he’ll probably kill her and even if he doesn’t it’s probably going to trigger a yeti apocalypse but oh-my-goodness those hairy, hairy kisses fill her with the fire of a thousand raging hot-dog roasts.

I don’t want Mary Sue to read like every other first-person-paranormal-YA-star-crossed/species-crossed-lovers novel out there. I know! Let’s make her narcoleptic. Yes! That’s perfect! Only instead of showing the reader what it means to be narcoleptic, and having her actually deal with her narcolepsy, I’ll just have other characters mention it at strategic points throughout the novel.

“Oh, that Mary Sue! If only she weren’t narcoleptic.”

“You think you’re so special, just because you’re narcoleptic!”

“Mary Sue, honestly! You and that crazy narcolepsy…”

Because if other characters say it, that makes it true, and I don’t have to worry about character development. And if she never actually does anything even remotely connected to being a narcoleptic in the novel, well, it doesn’t matter, because if other characters say it, then it’s true. And Mary Sue is DIFFERENT!

Rock on. Now she can function solely to be the recipient of sweet, sweet Yeti love.

Of course, that example is silly and slightly off, because narcolepsy is a condition and not a personality trait like, say, having an explosive temper, or being incredibly stubborn, or having an irrational affection for cupcakes. (But really, is there such a thing as an irrational affection for those sweet, sugary confections? I think not.)

In the end, none of these heroines are terrible, and the books aren’t bad (many of them are quite fun), but I never feel like I know who the narrator is. She never becomes real to me.

In stark contrast to that is a book I read this weekend: WAKE by Lisa McMann. Even though it’s written in third-person, I felt like I understood Janie, the main character, better than many of the first-person main character narrators I’ve read recently. While not all of Janie’s character traits were desirable, they all rang true. There was never anything in the novel that gave me pause, nothing that contradicted the person that McMann created. This wasn’t to say she didn’t grow and change over the course of the narrative, but everything fit. Janie was a complete character, and we didn’t need inserts of dialogue for other characters to explain to us what made her unique. She already was.

In the end I don’t know why some characters speak to me and others don’t. But I do know that your characters need to be people, and not just vehicles through which the story is told. Now if you’ll excuse me, Mary Sue is about to find out that the International Confederation of Really Irate Yetis has put a price on her head. And they’re talking about how she’s narcoleptic.

Tomorrow: I'll attempt to give some advice on this topic. And may very well fail miserably! Oh, the suspense.

***NOTE: If you want to discuss this in the comments, yay!, but please only use authors/books by name if you are giving them as an example of exemplary awesomeness. My Mary Sue is probably another person’s favorite character, and I have a strict policy against author-bashing. Writing is hard. Tastes vary. That’s all there is to it.***