Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice = Fried Brain

Okay, we have had approximately 70 hours of summertime-like weather here and I'm already on a slow burn into listlessness. I feel like all I want to do is sit in the sun, read, and pretend to get really brown and not just freckly.

I spent most of one day this week reading Goose Girl. I couldn't put it down and actually really liked it. As I finished though, I felt a bit, well, manipulated. Almost as if Shannon Hale had made a list of Ten Elements Contained, Whole Or In Part, in a Commercially Successful Young Adult Novel and then set out to ensure that her novel contained all ten elements.

1--Teenage protagonist
2--Said protagonist (usually female) starts out a bit bookish/shy/clumsy/awkward/misfit/etc.
3--Protagonist is not necessarily beautiful, but there is SOMETHING about her and at the other end of puberty (which always ends at like age 17 with these girls, what is UP with that?) the something becomes beauty which draws all to her.
4--Princesses and Princes.
5--Falls in love unwittingly with the man she is already betrothed to
6--Magical powers
7--A journey
8--Physical hardship that stretches the protagonist beyond their normal comfort zone
9--Facing impossible odds to do some terribly brave task
10--Happily ever after with said Prince/love interest

Anyway, that aside, I believe the story had a lot of heart and although it was a little formulaic and predictable, there are other cool things. I love the talking to the wind bit. I always wanted the wind to swirl around me and take my hair like that. But to be able to control it! Goddess-like. Some of her descriptions are also quite beautiful and she has a very clever way of turning a phrase. I am sure I'll read her other books too.
Confession time. I've been working on my own fantasy novel since I was about 13, or earlier. Maybe, at least in my head, ever since I heard the story of the girl-warrior, Joan of Arc. Robin McKinley and Madeline L'Engle fanned the flames of my love for the fantasy story. My novel has really taken a life of its own in many ways: I feel these characters as close to me as family members. That probably sounds strange to some of you. Anyway, I began the draft in its current form 8 years ago. The problem is that lately my most complete portion of the book feels more like a middle part to a trilogy. (That should probably go on the list above as #11.) But after I read Hale's book, I can't help but think that my novel may have a chance after all. It is the kind of thing I would have devoured when I was a young teenager.

I've done some writing lately--blogging, letters, bits and pieces of stories--but to REALLY write, I need the kind of time I don't have. When I'm really novel-ing I need stretches of two hours or more at a time. My first half hour is just a warm-up to get me back in the mode of that particular story's tone and rhythm. I used to stay up late to do it, but my a.m. papers have taken that off the table.

Maybe I just need to suspend all housework for the next year.


FoxyJ said...

I totally loved Goose Girl, but I also just recently started reading fantasy a few years ago. Still don't like a lot of it. I've also been to see Shannon Hale speak at a few events and I like her a lot. But, I actually like the second book in the trilogy (Enna Burning) the best out of all three.

Z. Marie said...

My mom has been bugging me for years to write a novel, which sounds kind of odd, I know. Perhaps I'll get around to in someday. At least you have the "I've got three kids!" excuse.
But of course I'm all for not doing housework for a year. Of course, I have a part-time housekeeper at the moment, but I wouldn't be doing much more cleaning even if I didn't.

Amy said...

What a coincidence! I just finished both Goose Girl and Princess Academy last week. I too thought Goose Girl was a bit formulaic, and the ending seemed to be wrapped a little too perfectly. I actually liked Princess Academy better. Much of the same themes, but it seemed more believable to me. Check it out if you haven't read it already. I'd love to read something your novel! If it's anything like some of your fantastic posts, I'm sure it would be an instant success!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I think I will read Princess Academy for sure. I wasn't sure about finishing the Goose Girl trilogy, but Enna Burning sounds interesting. I thought she'd be the fire girl from a comment she makes to Ani in Goose Girl. Sounds like good times for summer.

Christie said...

I love your term, "noveling." It's one of my favorite pastimes too. To recreate summer -- scatter some sandbox sand on your kitchen floor, set up a lawn chair. Turn on furnace and set temp. to 80. Apply sunless tanner. (Yes, it will look fake and you'll regret it. But each time I lie out I turn pink and regret it. Which is worse?) Shine a bright light in your face, and give your boys small squirt guns. Voila -- summer! (And insanity.)

Girly Momma said...

i really really liked the goose girl. i read all three in the trilogy, but goose girl is the best by far. enna burning is okay, and the last one is a bit less than okay. but read them if you like. i would love to read a book by you. i bet it would be good.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

I suspect most teen fantasy heroines are shy and bookish because: 1) The authors probably were like that as kids, 2) The authors are probably still like that, but wouldn't mind having stunning beauty, magical powers, and a prince, 3) Most of the readers are like that, but also wouldn't mind having stunning beauty, magical powers, and a prince, 4) None of the above really want to read/write about a gorgeous, popular prima donna winning yet another round in life, and 5) Shy bookish girls rock.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

P.S. Good luck with your novel. I'm looking forward to reading it in my own copious spare time. :)

Caitlin said...

1. I liked "The Goose Girl" because it was a light read and sometimes that's just what I need. I thought the author's descriptions were great, especially her descriptions of color.

2. I thought that your Father's Day post was beautifully written. It brought tears to my eyes. You have a real talent, and I hope that you keep writing.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I was never shy, but I have to agree that


And I wouldn't turn down any magical powers that chose to come my way either.


My oldest daughter Lauren reads an entire book every other day day. Seriously. She's working her way through Shakespeare and Bronte right now. It has nothing to do with her curriculum either she just decided that she wanted to read them all.

She ADORES fantasy novels with a feminine slant to it. She'd probably be your target audience for your book.


We all read Princess Academy for Book Club last year. I only made it through half the book because I thought it was incredibly boring. Stef read it.....grudgingly. Lauren is really the only one around here that has read all of Shannon Hale's books and loved them.

Everything in life is so subjective. Just because Shannon Hale sells a million plus copies of her award winning books doesn't mean she can reach everyone. I liked the Twilight series but I honestly don't think Stephenie Meyers is all that spectacular of a writer.

Yeah, I dared to say it!!!!!!