Friday, October 17, 2014

Questions and Answers

It's that most wonderful time of the year again. The weather's getting cooler (ugh), leaves are falling (noooo), but it's October and that means NaNoWriMo is coming! I'll be working on Potential over the coming month. It's been growing well in the planning stage. As I go, I'll be trying to update the blog more, so keep checking in an November goes!

The Maze Runner trilogy and prequel
I've been reading The Maze Runner series and keeping an eye on James Dashner's style as a YA writer in particular. One thing I've picked up most from him is the idea, "Always leave an open question." Don't end chapters with everything neatly tied up. As a reader, you keep reading a book to answer questions. Re: Maze Runner - What is the maze? What's the way out of it? How did Thomas get there? What's going on when people get stung by a Griever? It starts off with many questions right at the beginning, fueled by the main character's missing memories and new situation. From then on, Dashner starts answering those questions, but just before or as one closes and a chapter draws near an end, another one opens, drawing you from chapter to chapter all the way to the end, where most, but not all, are answered. The remaining ones draw you to the next book.

As a result, I've added something new to my outlining notes: Questions asked and questions answered per scene. Every scene should add a question, even if it's one as small as "How will Syn do at her prospecting" that'll be answered in the very next chapter. Not every scene needs to answer a question, but there should always be an open question, all the way to the very last page, to keep the reader moving forward. It's not always easy to find these questions, and if I'm really struggling, I know I need to do something more with the scene.

And if you were wondering how the Maze Runner series is, I give it two thumbs up. The main trilogy grabs you and drags you in, although, as with most trilogies it seems, the first book is the strongest and most definitely worth a read if you like YA dystopian. I'm not quite as gripped by the prequel novel as the others, though. I like the characters and it's great to see the world as it starts to fall apart versus long gone, as it is in the trilogy, but it just doesn't hold my attention as well. I'm not as attached to the characters, most likely because I can already predict their futures. That's always been a stumbling point of mine. If you tell me at the beginning that you're recounting the history of the survivors of disaster or something like that, I've lost all the tension of wondering if they'll survive. The biggest question is answered. I'll get through it eventually, but it's a few weeks between readings instead of one or two sittings, and I might pick something else up in the meantime. I've had my eye on the Divergent series for a while now. It's probably next in line, though whether it'll be before or after NaNo, I can't say. It's coming soon, though, that's for sure.