5/24/10

Conspiratorial Characters

BIG SHOUT-OUT AND HUGS TO ELANA JOHNSON!!!!!!!!!! She was the first person-who-didn't-know-who-on-earth-I-was to follow (and comment!) here on my blog, and thus she goes in my book of people who make my day. :) Anyway, this girl has a book deal and deserves HUGE applause!!!

*huge applause* Elana, you are much loved!!!!


Back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

I finished A Conspiracy of Kings.

Now onto waiting four more years for the next sighting another book by Megan Whalen Turner. I'm sure I'll revisit the series at least once within that time, maybe more than once. But in case you're thinking that this is another one of my "Megan-Whalen-Turner-is-so-amazing-and-incredible-and-I-wish-I-could-write-and-plot-like-her" gushings, I promise you that I am writing about writing today.

But for the record, Megan Whalen Turner is so amazing and incredible and I wish I could write and plot like her.

In the second draft of Ivolet, I navigated (treacherously) the plotline by having a virtuously omniscient character. (He's not the narrator, or even one of the main characters, but he somehow became very, very important.) He knew pretty much everything that went on in the story (even things that were supposedly kept secret from him): he knew when characters were lying, and he knew even when he was lying. He knew the characters well, and he knew how to put them in situations where they would have to react a certain way (that usually ended up to his advantage). Because he was so smart (Manipulative? Decietful? Some would say so. I'm not going there. Whatever the case, he was definitely smart and wise.), his involvement made things end up for the better all the way around.

He singlehandedly manipulated my plot, actually. And while I didn't plan for him to do it, I had a sneaking suspicion that he would. It's rather interesting, actually, what he did. He made the ending turn out just fine, tied up all the loose ends with the startling proclamation that he'd planned the whole thing.

While I was a little bit...perturbed at having my authorship so haughtily stolen, I was more ashamed than anything else. I had tried to write my own book, but I had been forced to resort to what I thought was a cop-out. It was all planned by the sultan. The end. I felt like any talent I had as a writer was dissolved in my apparent lack thereof as a plotter. It seemed that I couldn't tie up a plot nicely myself, so I had to invent a character who had (conveniently) manipulated the entire story into something satisfactory. And while I was proud that I had been able to finally end a novel with a semblance of sanity, I was embarrassed that I'd had to lean on an unbelievably cunning character to do it for me.

Today I realized that I am only guilty of something that my heroine, Megan Whalen Turner, does quite frequently. Events in The Thief were stealthily manipulated by its protagonist, and much of the conflict in The Queen of Attolia was set at rest by the cunning of one of its characters. The King of Attolia is guilty of this plot device, too, made all the more easy for Turner because the main character is not really the main character. But it was A Conspiracy of Kings that made me realize that it's okay to have smart, conniving characters. I won't give away the story, but suffice it to say that help comes as the result of...well, a conspiracy.

And I still consider Megan Whalen Turner brilliant. Honestly, the things I mentioned endeared her books more to me because they were unique. They were different. They made the story feel more real and believable, somehow. I can't really explain it, but I liked what she did. And the fact that I liked her plotting makes me feel better about my own, because I consider myself a fairly "typical" reader of YA fiction. If I can tolerate (nay, love!) her strange plot twists and devices, then I can only hope that my readers will do the same.

iTunes DJ
"Give Me Jesus," by Jeremy Camp
"Things I Prayed For," by Eli
"Take the Name of Jesus with You," by the Great Plains Chorale
"Chariot Race," from The Prince of Egypt
"There Is a Name I Love to Hear," by the Great Plains Chorale
"Adoration," by Brenton Brown

2 comments:

Jen said...

Elana is fantastic... as a matter of fact it's how I came about your blog!! I love the background, cute colors!

As for the author you speak of I'm ashamed to tell you that I've never read her book, and now I feel that I'll have to make a trip soon to Barnes and Noble and get a copy!!

Jane Harmony said...

Isn't she though!
Thank you very much. :) I wish I could take more credit than just extensive internet searching...

Megan Whalen Turner. Her books are Junior Fiction/Young Adult, though most of the characters are adult. They take place in what feels like ancient Greece, though she strays from history and it is technically fantasy. She is brilliant. Make sure you start with The Thief and read them in order like I should have done! :)