three gophers - one dressed as a surfer, one with a blond ponytail holding cash, and one dressed as a witch

Battle of the Protagonists

Let’s just assume it is normal for a writer to have her characters talking inside her head. I’m not saying this happens to me…okay, fine, it does. But it’s usually limited to conversations between the characters within a single book. Awhile ago I got to wondering what would happen if my various main characters met each other and compared notes on how I’m treating them.

This probably won’t be funny to anyone except me. And that’s okay. If I can’t entertain myself, what’s the point of doing this anymore?

July 2012

INT. A TRAVELING PET SPA

Amalia, a privileged witch, smiles smugly at Ari, a teen entrepreneur from a working-class background.

AMALIA

I suppose you’ll have to wait a little while longer for your story to be revised.

ARI

What? But…but she promised.

AMALIA

Well, my story’s further along. It takes priority.

ARI

You sanctimonious little b–

August 2012

EXT. FLOODED WAR ZONE OUTSIDE STONE CITY WALLS

Amalia skips past, wielding a flaming ball of magicky something-or-other.

AMALIA

Never mind. My book’s done now!

ARI

FINALLY. It’s my turn!

January 2013

EXT. SMALL-TOWN CITY HALL

Ari’s shaking her fist at the miniature dog fountain when Annie shows up with a surfboard. Annie leans her surfboard against the dog fountain, which promptly tips over.

ANNIE

Hi!

ARI

Who are you?

ANNIE

I’m Annie. I’m in the next project.

ARI

What is it with the A names?

ANNIE

I don’t know about you, but my name totally fits me and my time period. I’m historical.

ARI

Actually you’re a little too present, cutting in to my time. I should be completely revised at this point.

ANNIE

It’s not my fault your story’s unmarketable and weird.

ARI

Unmarketable? Unmarketable? Oh, I guess you’d know all about that, Miss Historical-Novel-In-Verse.

ANNIE

At least I’m not completely wackadoodle. And I don’t hit people.

ARI

I don’t hit people. Much. Besides, you hit someone!

ANNIE

Yes, but my reasoning was dark and dramatic. Yours is because you feel like it.

ARI

I kinda feel like it now. Come a little closer.

October 2013

EXT. BALMY HAWAIIAN BEACH, MONSTER WAVES IN BACKGROUND

ANNIE

I’m nearly in draft 3 and she’s still going strong!

ARI

(sobs) I’m in Draft 480 and she still isn’t done with me!

END

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

The set-up: After Rose failed to kill her ex-lover, Dimitri, who turned Strigoi (evil vampire) in a previous book, Dimitri sends her creepy-stalker death threat messages. Meanwhile, Rose graduates from the Vampire Academy and goes to the Moroi (nice friendly vampire) Court. From there, everything falls apart. Not the plot, really, although the thread of it winds around, but Rose’s life and handle on the world.

 

Main character’s goals: Rose wants to change Dimitri back from his evil vampire state (think Buffy wanting to save Angel), but failing that, she is determined to kill him (think Buffy wanting to stake Angel).

My reaction: BIG SPOILER HERE, BUT IT ISN’T REALLY A SPOILER BECAUSE THE BOOK DOESN’T EVEN HAVE AN ENDING….Please please please can we just have a beginning, middle, and end in a YA fantasy anymore? Please? I thought this was the last book. Imagine my surprise when instead of a happy ending we are left with Rose about to go to trial for murdering an important Moroi vampire. Imagine the swear words that poured from my mouth in a very un-mommy-like stream. Mmmkay, spoiler over.

Of interest to writers: You CAN write a sequel-begetting ending without cliffhangers. I have seen it done before and done well. Try Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, for one of my favorite examples, or The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, which I have reviewed here and here, respectively.

Bottom Line: I love Rose Hathaway. She’s tough and gutsy and not afraid to call the Moroi queen a “sanctimonious bitch.” Bella Swan would pee her pants even thinking about doing that.

Second Bottom Line: I have had it with YA fantasies not ending. I am now all about the contemporary fiction. Well, after I read the last in the Vampire Academy series.

Ruined by Paula Morris (again)

This post is dedicated to the lazy students writing book reports.

ETA, PLEASE NOTE: I am not able to give any help on this book. I’m closing comments for that very reason.

 

Setting: New Orleans, Louisiana, shortly after Hurricane Katrina blasted through and ruined (ahem) many lives and livelihoods. It’s definitely gloomy and spooky in places. [You don’t know how tempting it is for me to tell you cheaters this book takes place in Iceland. So tempting. Actually, there might be a scene in Iceland, towards the end. If I remember correctly (and I might not), Rebecca takes her beloved library books and whaps Helena over the head with them.]

Characters:

Rebecca Brown, the main character. She likes libraries [and this is extremely important to the story].

Anton Grey, the hottie inexplicably drawn to Rebecca.

Helena Bowman, Rebecca’s snooty arch-nemesis.

Lisette, the ghost who helps Rebecca piece together the secrets of Rebecca’s life and the secrets of Lisette’s death.

Theme: I don’t know; months have passed since I read this book. If you’re writing a book report, you can always make something up. I frequently did (but before you think I’m getting all chummy or approving of you cheating by looking up these details on a website that maybe you can trust, maybe not, I will also say that I actually read the books I reported on. Except Moby Dick. But that is much longer than a 307-page contemporary fantasy and while some people actually enjoy reading Moby Dick (or say they do), that book was not for me). ETA Dec. 2015: I finally read Moby Dick! YAY!

As long as you can support whatever you say about the theme with evidence from the book, you should be golden. A good starting point for a theme is “friendship versus secrets.”

Symbols: Go for fire, gravestones, angels. Oh, and libraries. Again, what they symbolize is up to you, but you’ll impress your teacher if you cite evidence from the story or even – gasp! – supply quotations placed within quotation marks, followed by page numbers. If you are usually a slacker, and your teacher has a heart condition, please just skip this step. Pretend you don’t know what a symbol is. I don’t want to be responsible for any teacher deaths. Teachers work hard and deserve long happy lives.

That’s it. I didn’t rein in my tendency for parenthetical journeys into the Land of Totally Irrelevant. And it was oh, so fun.

12/6/2015. EDITED TO ADD: I am closing comments because I can’t offer help anymore. I read this book a loooong time ago and don’t remember enough to give specifics. I wish you students all the very best with your papers!