After talking non-stop with co-workers about the intrigue and heart-wrenching beauty that are dystopian novels, one young woman stated that she no longer liked dystopian novels as much as she once did. I decided to break down the differences found in the original dystopian novels (she was a fan of The Giver and was most recently finishing 1984) and the biggest books today when the greatest one jumped out at me: modern dystopian novels focus heavily on gore and physical suffering. Before, reading about corrupt politicians and overbearing governments and officials worked well enough to warn readers of what was to come, but what now? Most individuals couldn't care less about their government and how corrupt they are.
The “originals” fight has existed for thousands of years. The first book is always better than the rest of the series, the film sequels have no solid story line, and the first 151 Pokemon are, like, ten times better than what’s popular now. Life seems to be the only exception to this rule of thumb, because otherwise our phases of life would resemble novels with our toddler years being the best years of our life.
Up until now, I haven’t read a novel that was better than its predecessor. I like Allegiant and Julie’s Wolf Pack because of the ending events in Allegiant and the complete change in point of view in JWP, not necessarily because all aspects of the novel were changed, improved, or radical. Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium is the second novel in a trilogy and exceeds the expectations prepared by the first, titled Delirium, because of the way Oliver changed her storytelling method and developed more of the characters and plot.
Okay, so we’re closer to Week 2 at this point, but I do want to focus on what happened in the first third of the competition.
Firstly, 18,000 words by Day 9 may be above average, but that means it’ll be harder to motivate myself later when I need to keep putting effort out there. Also, despite feeling relaxed that the writing is flowing, I’m getting worried because fifty thousand words will not be enough. That’s the point of NaNoWriMo, isn’t it? To finish a novel in a month has always been the goal, but most young adult novels are around 100-150,000 words. Even if I reach the word goal that doesn’t mean the novel will be completed or not have a bunch of sub plots added to it during the revision.
Nevertheless, too many words is a good thing. It’s always better to have too much to work with then be scrambling for those last 2,000 words when the novel ended fifteen pages ago. What I’ve learned in the last week and a half is that I may win NaNoWriMo 2014, but I may not have a completed novel.
I choose to write young adult novels and started my writing journey with middle grade stories. The coming-of-age character is the one I connect with, but the authors who inspired me to read were the children’s authors I discovered in elementary school. While I read hundreds of phenomenal authors, the two writers who always pop into my head are Jean Craighead George and Cynthia DeFelice. George's Julie of the Wolves Trilogy and DeFelice’s The Ghost of Fossil Glen center on young women, aged thirteen and eleven respectively, who struggle to live like children, think like adults, protect and interact with the environment and its creatures, and represent the kinds of children that are needed in modern society.
Live Like a Child, Think Like an Adult
George’s character Julie, or Miyax, is raised in the Alaskan tundra with her widowed father until the age of thirteen, when she marries a boy her age and moves away. When her boy-husband tries to force himself on her (without graphic detail), Julie runs away and gets lost on the tundra. She is discovered by a small wolf pack who take her in as one of their pups and it is because of them that she finds shelter, food, and protection.
Married at thirteen is difficult enough without having to survive a season in the Alaskan tundra. George’s character is strong because of her determination to better her life, even if the process is dangerous and uncertain. Julie relies on her survival instincts, taught by her father, and the trust of the wolves. The alpha male is often portrayed as regal and trustworthy, the alpha female is caring and stern, and Julie’s favorite pup is precocious and brotherly. Attributing characteristics normally given to people gives these animals a humanistic persona, and the young reader will feel safer with the wolves in nature as Julie does rather than in a warm house with a misguided young man. This idea, that sometimes what is found in nature is safer than what we create in our society, is what children need to learn and understand in case they fear the situation they are in or are terrified of learning what is the unknown.