Lessons in Writing, #1
There are two ways we can become better writers, and they go hand-in-hand.
The first way is obvious. You have to write. A lot.
The second way is sometimes ignored. You have to read. I know, I know. There are people out there who say, “I like writing, but I don’t read.” How is that possible?
We can learn a lot from the books we read. Maybe we like how the writer describes characters. Maybe we hate the way they portray vampires. But we can take something from any book we read. That’s why I’m writing this post, and why I plan on writing more like it. I think it’s important to document your likes and your dislikes, especially if you’re a writer. Remember those scenes you loved, and remember the ones you didn’t. Or you know, write a blog post about them. Whatever floats your boat.
I recently read City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I know, I know. I jumped on that bandwagon a little late. But whatever, at least I’m reading it now.
So if you haven’t read The Mortal Instrument series and you don’t want me to spoil it for you, stop reading now. Seriously. I’m on the fourth book. So…stop.
Lesson 1: Don’t take things too far.
I struggled through the second book. Really struggled. And if you’ve read the series, you can probably guess why. You know, when Clary and Jace still had the hots for each other when they thought they were brother and sister. More importantly, that Jace still wanted to pursue Clary. I almost stopped reading the series even though it was obvious they weren’t really related. It felt like an attempt to make their romance forbidden…were we supposed to still root for them? I’m assuming so, but I just couldn’t. To me, this was pushing a little too far. Fine, they’re related. But can we stop with the incest? This isn’t Game of Thrones.
Lesson 2: Can we be realistic about teen love?
It also had the insta-love thing to it. Yes, teenagers seem to feel love more intensely. When you fall in love with someone for the first time, it is intense. But it’s also not forever. And I’m definitely getting the feeling that Jace and Clary are endgame. Why can’t we be more realistic with these depictions of teen love?
I’m not saying that we have to kill the romance. I’m just saying that if you’re writing a series, it’s likely that your characters (especially if they are teenagers) will fall in and out of love. And it’s likely that one of them will become interested in someone else. Or maybe I’m just jaded, I don’t know.
Lesson 3: Adult presence makes for realism.
Adults don’t listen to teens. We don’t view teens as our leaders. We don’t think they know more than us. So why is it that in some books, teens have all this power? It isn’t realistic.
Luckily, The Mortal Instruments seems to have a pretty realistic grasp on that. The adults in the novel aren’t listening to the kids when they’re making important decision because Clary and the others are children. Yes, sometimes they’re right. But does that mean the adults in their lives think they are? Nope.
But more importantly, there is a clear adult presence in the novels (so far). The kids aren’t just running into some crazy adventure by themselves all the time. Someone else is there. Like Luke, for instance. And they have rules. For example, Clary can’t live at the Institute with her boyfriend. Pretty solid rule if you ask me.
Lesson 4: Look at how other authors write action.
In terms of writing, I like the paranormal action scenes in this book (like when Clary and Isabelle fight that demon). I like that it’s written in third-person limited. I feel like this is hard to find in YA novels, especially now.
Lesson 5: A new dialogue peeve…
But I also discovered I hate the word “whoa.” I swear. I’m keeping a tally of how many times I encounter it in this book. I mean seriously. How many times have you ever said, “Whoa, you’re a werewolf?” It’s cheesy.
So there you have it. Let me know if you agree, disagree, or have anything to add in the comments below.
-Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.
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