Reading for Technique

Warning: This post may contain spoilers for the Lunar Chronicles.

Unsurprisingly, after I finished writing my blog post “Sucked In,” I continued to binge read. I finished Marissa Meyer’s Fairest and am currently about 3/4 of the way through Winter. When a series pulls you in, it really pulls you in! I’m a big fan of that.

While reading, I have been taking notes for technique and goals in writing. If any of you readers out there are also building your world [read: personal empire between pages], then you can appreciate a few weaknesses I am pinpointing in my own furtive novel construction.

Notes from the Would-Be Writer: An except from the writing journal.

  1. Structure
  2. Villain
  3. Personality
  4. Plot Twist
  5. Army?

Staircases.jpg

Structure

One thing I appreciate about the Lunar Chronicles that I also came to expect from the Harry Potter series growing up was a predictable pattern of structure. In HP, each novel orbited around a new year of schooling at Hogwarts. In the LC, it was a new fairy tale princess all dolled up in sci-fi that cued the next act.

How do I create a pattern of structure that can be anticipated and easily recognized by readers?

Literary Villains.jpg

Villain

Queen Levana and Lord Voldemort both have a story that shows how they became so twisted. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually find Levana’s warp from an innocent child into a delusional, vicious villain more convincing than Volde’s! Not to say that HP doesn’t overshadow every other series in every other way… (No no, not biased at all.)

How do I make my villain tragic, almost-relatable, and irredeemable? 

Lunar Chronicles Characters.jpg

Personality

I can imagine Iko’s squeal over new lace perfectly in my mind. That is because Iko loves fashion, Prince Kai, sarcasm, and being the most human-like android out there. I know this character; she is saturated with flavor, just like each of Meyer’s big-ticket characters. Her characters also have tics and inside jokes like “wire cutters,” “The Captain is my King,” Thorne’s charade of self-obsession, like Cress’s stature, or her habit of wrapping hair around her wrists, like Cinder’s deadpan sarcasm, like Iko’s blue braids, or like Winter’s beauty and entrancing teardrop scars.

How do I make my characters easily identifiable yet complex and dynamic?

Plot Twist Sign

Plot Twist

Plot filled with surprises is irresistible. When you get near the end of a series that had aces up its sleeves the whole way through, you realize now you are reading because you need to know what happens to the characters you unwittingly became obsessed with. (In my original journal entry, I listed some plot twists from LC, but I will save those and instead highly recommend you read the series and find out.)

How do I fill my novels with enough small and large cliff-hangers that my readers can’t-stop-won’t-stop reading?

Army

I had not realized how much an army was slacking in my own work. I have an unfuriating character named Hensley Mackgack, a villain possibly named Gwendolyn Godiva, and a few dubious names that I won’t drop here, but there needs to be something more. It could be a cult. A regime. Some entry point for other twisted beings to rally behind my twisted villainess. Why would they rally from behind? All the better to backstab.

How do I equip my villain with an undeniable force that steeps her in power?

These are my thoughts as I read. What do you read that you want to do too?

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