My participation in the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain has been sporadic at best. Generally speaking, I come up with excuses.
“I’m too busy this month.”
“I’m not really digging the prompt.”
“I’ll just sign up later.”
Y’know, you get the picture. But I’m doing it this month! Also, because I didn’t really think while scheduling my posts, a My Hero Monday post is coming the day after tomorrow. Whoops.
Anyway. This month’s prompt is…
“What works of fiction have taught you by example, and what did they teach you?”
This one was difficult and easy for me at the same time, but after lots and lots of digging through my Goodreads shelves, I think I’m ready.
First off is Malinda Lo’s Ash, a LGBT+ Cinderella retelling. Ash really had a huge influence on my writing. Why, you ask? Well, it was really one of the first books I ever read starring a canon LGBT+ character. It really helped drive in the point that diversity is important in novels. And then I went back to my WIP at the time, looked over the cast, and realized that all the main characters were straight white girls. My reaction was basically something along the lines of “Woah, that’s weird. Why didn’t I even notice it until now?” It’s been a rather slow change, admittedly, but I think that Ash has had an enormous impact on my writing- and an important one as well.
Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer was an interesting book, to say the least. It was sort of like a giant smashup of historical fiction, dystopian, apocalyptic, sci-fi, steampunk, and fantasy all wrapped into one. The effect was pretty awesome- a girl befriending a griffin-like creature in a steampunk version of feudal Japan. I’m not going to try and explain it in greater detail here, but it taught me that you don’t always have to stick rigidly to a single genre. I also learned a lot about worldbuilding, something that I tend to struggle with sometimes.
Brandon Sanderson is a new favorite author of mine- although I’ve admittedly only read two of his books, Mistborn and Steelheart. I’m going to avoid spoilers here, but jeez. He taught me how to write a killer plot twist.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Cinder by Marissa Meyer (both are amazing- they’re some of my favorite books, and highly recommended) taught me so much about worldbuilding. They’re each fantastic novels, rich with just the right kinds of details, and set in worlds completely different from our own. Seraphina is fantasy, while Cinder is science fiction (and a fairy tale retelling as well), but they both do such a good job of showing us what their respective worlds are like.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein taught me HOW TO SHATTER MY READERS’ HEARTS INTO A MILLION PIECES. I don’t cry easily when it comes to books. I can count the number of times I’ve cried while reading on one hand. So when I heard about Code Name Verity. I’d been told that it was absolutely heartbreaking. And I ignored the warnings. But in the end, I’m glad I read it. It was an amazing story, the friendships were so real, and I really did learn from it.
Starstruck (by Rachel Shukert) was another book I read not long before Code Name Verity when I was totally in love with historical fiction. It taught me a lot about writing unique characters- every one of the three protagonists is so real and deep and rich and wonderful, and they’re all so different from each other. I loved this novel, but I loved the characters even more.
What books have taught you by example? What do you think of the ones I’ve talked about here? Let me know in the comments!
December 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:
Prompt: “What works of fiction have taught you by example, and what did they teach you?”
10th – http://kirabudge.weebly.com/
16th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
25th – [off-day]
31st – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)