Friday, March 9, 2012

Move it, pal!

Hi everyone.

I know I've been MIA for a long, long time, but things have been hectic lately. With everything. I think my life will slow down a bit only in November this year, because until then, I have many things to do. You already know that, so I won't be getting into it again. All you need to know is, I'm blogging today because I have a day off ;)

You're probably confused about the title. Don't worry, I'm not addressing you directly. I'll take the long winded way to explain what's going on.

Recently (if you can call Christmas recent), I've acquired a kindle, which means I've automatically tripled the number of books I read a year. I've read over 14 books in 3 months, and I usually read that many per year. I also love that I got to read books by many of my friends. Which was awesome.

Now, while reading my way through many books (including something by the now infamous Amanda Hocking), I came to the following conclusion: action has taken the place of good old fashioned character development in many books.

What's character development?

What, you call yourself a writer and dare to ask that? No, I'm just kidding here - character development is the change that goes on in your character after he/she goes through all the mayhem you put him/her through in your book. So character goes from point A to point B and is better for the experience. (as in grows by the end of this stuff).

After reading some YA lately (including more of the Fallen series and the first 2 Hush Hush books - I know, my choice in literature isn't exactly the best), I've realized that characters DON'T GROW anymore. And I finally realized why The Hunger Games left me with a bitter taste in my mouth - because Katniss didn't grow - she started out as a paranoiac loner and ended just the same. Yes, she has other, redeeming traits, but she starts with them and ends with them. No growth what-so-ever. The same with most YA heroes and heroines these days.

And that's just wrong! I mean YA should be the genre that should preach evolution and development the most - teach the kids that they have to fight for what's right and grow with the experience. Even if there's nothing else to learn from that book.

I'm not saying I'm doing it, but at least I'm trying.
In my YA series, Sam's a rich, pretty clumsy city kid who has to learn to trek through a jungle and shoot and fight because he'll be dead by the end of the book if he doesn't. He also has to fight his insecurities and believe in the decisions he makes because they could get everyone he cares about killed. At some point, he has to even overcome his fear of heights. He struggles and almost fails, but he grows with it.

In Hunters, Rachel actually has to tone down her badd-ass-ness and learn that positive feelings are just as driving as anger. She also evolves and learns how to use what she has without doubting herself. I admit she doesn't grow much - maybe just softens and finds her inner balance - but something about her does change.

Grace, my newest character to torture, grows A LOT. People reading the book know how annoying she was at the beginning and how she started growing a spine and building confidence.

I want to see that in books. People overcoming their condition - struggling to succeed. And here's where the title gets explained (told you it would be a lng and winding road). Move it and evolve, you damn character!

Plot is important, I couldn't agree more. But if you send a cardboard piece (or a stone block in case the character is 3D) down an interesting road, its not going to make me love the book. Enjoy it, sure. Find the plot amazing - maybe. Be happy with the experience - nope, not me. The proof is that I've spent months since I've read The Hunger Games with a bitter feeling that something was wrong with that series. And when I found the flaw, I was very relieved and ready to put it behind me. And, no, I won't be reading those books again.

Honestly, it's going to take a very long time for something as good as Harry Potter to come out for the YA audience. My thoughts.

So yes, three dimensional characters can still be bad. That is my conclusion for the day.

In other news, I've started editing Hunters again - one chapter at a time. I'm gonna need to work on the last chapters because I've changed them pretty much and I need to see if the idea works or not.

Hope to get back here some time this month.


  1. But sometimes people don't change. In the book Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, she says that something has to change in the story, but not necessarily the characters. Either the situation changes, the reader changes, or the character changes.

    You're right about Katniss not changing by the end of The Hunger Games. But she does change by the end of the entire series.

    I wish you good luck with your editing!

  2. Good rant, Steph! I hope I've managed to make my MC grown, but this is something I struggle with.


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