No Knight Is Ordinary

26 Jul
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Sarah’s driveway in rural GA

It is a night like any other.

If you are in Georgia, this means it is hot, humid and there might be a breeze blowing. If you are lucky, of course. Pollen isn’t as thick as it was in Spring, though it still has a firm grip on the air. The leaves are full and the forests are thick. But, it was on a night like any other that most remarkable things happen. Maybe not in Georgia. Okay, mostly not in the sweet ol’ southern state of Georgia. Remarkable things do happen though. Things like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars happen. People like C. S. Lewis, Donita K. Paul, and Wayne Thomas Batson are born.It also happens that a very small, insignificant thing called E. E. B. happened on a night like any other. No, the world doesn’t know about it. (not yet anyway. I’m working on nefarious plots… don’t tell Brooke!) In fact, almost no one knows about it… except for you. And one or two people on Figment.

Which probably means you want an explanation.

Well, you see, my life began…

I’m kidding! We’re not going back that far. Actually, the idea of “Elizabeth E. Brookes” formed when an 8 and 9 year-old decided they wanted to write books. For a living. At 8 and 9. Granted, you don’t need to make a living when you’re 8 or 9 (Thank you parents. Now. As in — right now. You’d be more than mostly dead without them.), but said 8 and 9 year-old were determined.

They sat outside in the little ol’ school house and wrote their first story The Kids at Crystal Cove together. In a few days. It was a magical book with only a paragraph to a page and size 18 font… the not-so-eight-and-nine-year-olds might possibly be ashamed of said work. Now. Then, it was a masterpiece.

We only stole ideas from about 20 books… among them Little House on the Prairie (FYI — I can never spell “prairie” right…)  and The Chronicles of Narnia. We don’t talk about that book much anymore save in hushed whispers so that no one else can hear. (You mustn’t tell anyone else I told you about it, okay? Brooke might strangle me.)

But that wasn’t the end.

Silly parents, writing isn’t a phase.

So, about a thousand 3 hour phone conversations, 20 outlines and 11+ manuscripts later… well, I’d say Elizabeth E. Brookes was pretty unified.

What is EEB?

Well, it’s me (the insane, mentally-unstable kid of the group). And Brooke. (Brooke’s the genius of the operations, by the way.) Brenna. And Christ.

Yeah, you read this whole post just to find out we’re Christian. Strongly Christian, actually. No! Don’t run away! Not until I’ve finished!

Yes, EEB is a “group” of three teenage (now high school aged) girls who love God more than anything else. Who are determined to become published. And who became what the little 8 and 9 year-old wanted them to be — authors. Although we have massively busy schedules and a number of insane endeavors, we have all continued to write.

A lot.

As in, psychological issues will develop when we don’t write. Exciting stuff, really.

It’s an interesting, not-so-average, adventure. With our characters talking our ears off, you can expect that sanity is not among our collective traits. But we do know that this is a passion. And as we continue to write, read, and love our Savior, Jesus Christ, we hope that you’ll learn to love it as well.

It’s a long road ahead of us. But it’s the King’s Road. And He does not lead His servants astray.

 

You are welcome to explore our blog and the King’s Road!

 

If you’re not sure where to go next, here are some great places to start!

  • Check out our About Page to find out more about who and what EEB is and stands for!
  • Each of us have what Sarah decided to call a “desk” where we keep you informed on what we’re doing. Desks are a place where you can ask us as individuals any questions you may have, and also a place where you can preview some of our latest work!
  • The Archives are a place where you can find all of our posts sorted into neat categories that have to do with the subject matter discusses. The archives also serve as a place where you can see the most recent posts and scan through them quickly.

 

We’re so glad you’re here and can’t wait to start getting to know you!

“Welcome Home” Chapter Nine- Rehearsals

24 Aug

The first few weeks of Seussical were spent almost entirely in practice for the opening number “Oh the Thinks you can Think,” which included everyone in the play. Even though all of the directors oversaw this song, Matt and Casey were largely responsible from beginning to end. They warmed us up first thing with jumping jacks and stretches to the beat of some popular song, whether it was “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz or perhaps an edited version of “Starship” by Nicki Minaj. A lot of times we all knew the song, so we would sing along with Matt leading the lyrics. The choreography for “Oh the Thinks you can Think” was energetic along with the rest of Seussical. I loved dancing, even though I had never danced to speak of before this play. Because of my lack of experience, it took me a while to learn the dance moves correctly. I especially had a problem with the “train,” which is where you rock back and forth on one foot. However, I would get confused with which foot to place in front of me and I always fell behind the rhythm of the others. Matt placed me and one younger girl in what he called his “special class,” but even though I tried my hardest, I still did not get it. The other girl learned almost immediately, but Matt had to call Mrs. Jana to come over to help me so that he could teach something else. In just a couple of minutes, I had managed to confuse Mrs. Jana’s direction too, so we had to call Mrs. Hillary. I might have eventually learned the step, but then at the next practice I learned that Matt and Casey had dropped that part of the choreography because “some people” did not get it. Haha. Since I was the only one left in the class who was having a problem with that step, I knew that comment was being discreetly aimed at me. From then on, I decided I would try harder than ever to get those steps right. I really wanted to impress Matt and Casey. It was embarrassing to be one of the oldest girls in the play and be the worst dancer. I practiced harder and thought I was finally getting into the groove of one Irish move that was in the latter part of the song, when Matt gently corrected me. Again. I had been putting my foot in front of me instead of behind me when I jumped. He just laughed, though, and told me that it seemed completely counter-intuitive to dance the correct way, but that was the way the number would be acted.
On the acting channel, my friend Katie would be Mrs. Mayor in the blue cast, I would be Mrs. Mayor in the red cast, and Logan Wagner would be Mr. Mayor in both casts. That created quite a bit of a joke among the students. Katie and Logan went to school together and he tried to embarrass her in the halls, calling her names such as “wife-ie-poo.” Logan was a mischievous mess. His habit of talking during practice sometimes infuriated Matt to no end. I remember one time Matt caught him talking at the very beginning of the director’s notes and he just marched over there and was like, “Logan, if I catch you talking one more time, I swear, I will…I do not even know what I am going to do with you!”
Katie and I were always worn out by the time practice ended partially because of Logan’s antics, but we all thoroughly enjoyed being in the play with him anyway. He definitely made sure we were not bored, even when we were waiting while everyone else practiced “Biggest Blame Fool” for hours on end. That was another big number and everyone except for us and a couple of other people were cast in it. We could not be in it, though, because “Here on Who” was one of the next songs and there was no way we could make a costume change quickly enough.
A young girl named Emily was Jojo, Mr. Mayor and Mrs. Mayor’s “son.” It was so much fun practicing with Emily and Logan! Their acting was a lot more energetic than mine, a quality that they helped me with. I was too quiet; Matt would pace the back of the auditorium and would yell, “I can’t hear you!” I would then practice a little louder. Seussical soon became a very welcome place to be indeed; everyone shared their struggles and genuinely wished good fortune on their fellow thespians. They became like another family to me, especially the Jacksons.
I really got to hang around the Jackson family for a while after one practice. I did not have a cell phone to call my parents when practice was over, which almost created quite a dilemma. Practice let out a little early for whatever reason one day and my parents were still not there twenty minutes later. All of the students had left and even most of the directors had gone home. The Jacksons were the only people that were still at the Warehouse and they were about to go eat at Cracker Barrel. I remember sitting outside on that cool fall night talking to Oakley, waiting. Then I came inside A Thousand Hills Coffee, which was in the Warehouse building, and waited some more. Lakeland and Mr. Kevin were beginning to wonder if everything was alright, so Mrs. Jana let me borrow her cell phone. I got no answer, so I began to panic. Mr. Kevin immediately said that it was no big deal; they would go nowhere until my parents showed up. I did not want to ruin the Jacksons’ plans for dinner, but at the same time I was very relieved that I would not be left alone in a coffee shop full of strangers. Luckily, Daddy came before too much longer, but I was still grateful for everyone’s kindness.
I have a lot of short journal entries about these special Wednesday nights that I want to share. Here are some of them below:
Wednesday, August 29, 2012,
I did school and practiced all day. Gran and Granddaddy stopped by for a little while. Practice went well tonight. We practiced choreography for “Oh the Thinks you can Think” and acting for “How to Raise a Child.”
Wednesday, September 5, 2012,
I think we worked on choreography again. I got put in Matt’s “special class.” At least I know the dance steps now.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012,
Today was practice again. We [mostly] practiced “Here on Who” in another room while everyone else practiced “Biggest Blame Fool.”

Writing Buddies Are For Life

12 Aug

So this is pretty much co-authoring in a few pictures. In case you were wondering, along with writing, we also do weird, stupid things in public, but what were the librarians going to say?

The One About Co-Writing (Part Two)

7 Aug

And then they… no, they didn’t dance. They finished the one about co-writing.

 

6. Discuss the Book and All Future Plans for the Book Frequently. This may seem like a weird thing to do at first, but I promise it’s worthwhile. No one will be more supportive of you and your future (obviously awesome) fandom than your co-author. So talk about it. Where do you want this book to go? What are your dreams? If your dreams are as bad as Flynn Riders, then come up with some better ones. While it may seem like you’ll never get anywhere, laughing about who you think your readers will ship in the future and drooling over certain publishing companies will help not only to set your standards of achievement high, but it will also make you and your co-author closer. Along those same lines, you’ll establish similar aspirations for the book. This is very important. If you’re envisioning yourself as the next New York Times Best Seller and your buddy is really just wanting to write a story to share with the family, then he or she might not be so inclined to slave over the manuscript like you are. Talking about where you want to go with the book will also help you tackle the big discussions in chunks instead of all at once. Do you want to have more than one main character? How long of a book are we talking? Do we want to make this into a trilogy? A saga? A series? Multiple series? When should we draw the line and maybe move on to other things? Brooke and I went through this a lot with our “cycle” WilderQuest. A lot of times, we let all of our gushing ideas accumulate for months before we addressed them, and because of that, our ideas would often clash and clash hard. Again, communication is the key.

 

7. Keep the Book Consistent. What tense? What point of view? Formatting. It is a big deal. Let no one tell you otherwise. Ever. Because it is a big deal. Especially if one of the people involved is OCD. That was me, Sarah, if you were wondering. This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind while you are co-writing. A lot of times, you and whoever you choose to write with will have very different ideas of how things should look. In fact, your styles will likely be very different as well. And although it can become a really big road-block if you let it, there are a lot of ways to avoid locking up over inconsistencies. This may end up requiring you teach a few Microsoft Word short cuts to your authoring compatriot or sacrifice your own ideal title headings for ones that your buddy likes more. Again, be ready to compromise and work through the problem with God’s grace and serenity. Agree on and then set up a chapter template, make character description sheets up, and share what you think about each others’ writing. Brooke and I often talked through inconsistencies that arose, making notes of some character’s preference for certain things and also how to properly indent paragraphs. And more often than not, all that was needed was brief clarification. Here’s what happens when you don’t do this:

“Evangeline huffed in irritation, glaring at Liz with her cold, dark brown eyes.” – Chapter 2, written by Sarah

“Evangeline’s bright blue eyes flashed; fear was evident in her face despite the chaos of battle.” – Chapter 11, written by Brooke

See the dilemma? While these sentences didn’t actually come straight from WilderQuest, this very thing actually did happen. You’ll find that you and your friend will likely have characters that the both of you created almost entirely by yourself, or you’ll come up on a part in your book where one of you planned out the battle scene to the gory details. These aren’t bad things, but always keep in mind that the other person working with you is probably not telepathic. If you have things planned out to the very last dotted i on the page, be sure to share this and be willing to compromise if your better (writing) half has an idea. Plot bunnies multiply exponentially where inconsistencies are, and no one wants to have to chase all those fluffy mongrels off.

 

8. Make Achievable Goals. The word “achievable” here is very important. Goals will be the things that help propel you through the tough times of novel writing and also push you to the breaking point, and goals will also often be a test of your teamwork finesse levels. Whether it’s a goal to reach a certain word count, write a certain number of chapters in a week, or a setting and meeting a certain dead line, you will find that it is very important one, that these goals that you set can actually be achieved, and two– without butting too much into the next point, that you encourage your friend to meet the goals that you do set. Seriously, just knowing that someone else who you know is human (because who can be sure about these big time author people) tacking a crack at reaching that really hard goal will help you to do better, even if you don’t achieve that goal in the end. Granted that nothing is quite as satisfying as knowing that you and your writing compadre have reached a goal on time. So strive to meet those goals. Or make a point to laugh about them later. Both are pretty enjoyable, although one of them is decidedly more productive.

 

9. Encourage One Another in Writing and in Life. This is definitely the biggest benefit of writing with another person. Although, undoubtedly, you will have your ups and downs, good days and days that main characters end up in dark pits being tortured to death, you will also have days that you finally pull out of your writer’s block and the first person to throw you a party and send you cake is your co-author. Days that you’ll disparagingly decide that your novel will never go anywhere and you might as well stop now and take up some profitable career now like your mom has been telling you to for the past sixteen years and the one to dispel all that is your wonderful, high-spirited writing buddy. In fact, you’ll find that the friends who write together, often stay together. Like, seriously, Brooke and I have been life-buddies since the tender age of two. There is something about spinning a tale with another uniquely amazing individual that is really pretty awesome in-and-of itself, and you will likely discover that the people who “get you” the best are the people that you write with. So, with this pretty awesome relationship in mind, don’t overlook the importance of daily making an effort to build each other up and encouraging one another to strive for each of your “bests” — whatever that best looks like. And if you’re pen pal is just having a rough go of it in general, be there for them– pray for them. Trust me, riding through the storms of life with someone is one sure way to ensure that when you write together– it’s just that: together.

 

10. Co-Writing Can Be Lots of Fun. So Enjoy It. One of the best feelings you’ll have while co-writing is the moment when you and your friend finish a book, and you read back through it and realize that you’ve shared a very unique part of yourself with another person who feels the same way. I have learned so much from co-writing and continue to learn about not only my own style and abilities, but also about other people and how to best interact with others. Truly, nothing will improve your writing as quickly as working together with other talented individuals because you will find yourself wanting to put forth your best so that they will do the same. Instead of standing on the precipice of a new novel alone, you will be standing with a friend and fellow warrior. Some of the best memories I have are from late-night role-playing sessions, really, freakishly long book planning discussions, and the intermittent moments of shared insider jokes and character impersonations. So have fun with it. Co-writing is probably one of the most fun things you’ll do. And while it does take a lot of work on the outset, the rewards that you reap in the long run will far exceed the little troubles that you go through at the start.

 

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Well, there’s our take on co-writing. Did you think of something that we missed now that we’ve reached the end? Think that you could explain one of the points better? Have a story to tell that fits one of our ten points? Tell us about it in the comments below!

New Contact Form

7 Aug

Hi, guys!

We just want to let you know that we have a new feature of EEB! You can now find our contact form in a drop-down menu from the “About” page at the top of the webpage. We are super excited about this, because, although we had a contact form before, we really would like to encourage y’all to submit questions about writing, faith, and life in general! You now can have a significant impact on what kind of posts we put up there.

You're going to have to sharpen your pencil for this one, guys.

You’re going to have to sharpen your pencil for this one, guys.

Now, we are, of course, going to continue with our usual posts and writing updates (and probably come up with some fun, random posts too — *spoilers* Sarah’s been thinking about starting a serial on idioms in the English language), but we are also super excited about building a community of writers who are for the kingdom of God! This is why your input is super important. You are all what makes this blog so much fun to write, and as a team we want to keep building up our relationships with you guys!

So don’t be afraid to drop us a line– even if it’s just to say hi. You guys are awesome, and we are excited about this new opportunity for us to all grow closer together.

 

-the EEB Writing Team

 

The One About Co-Writing (Part One)

4 Aug

A couple weeks ago, we received a request from Victoria W. :

“I have a question. I’ve been considering finding co-writing with someone on this story idea I had. There’s just one problem: I’ve never co-written anything and I don’t know how! I was wondering if you lovely ladies had any tips and/or guides that can show me how to get this up and off the ground. :)

And because we are the prosaic writers we are who can, of course, never do anything with brevity, we have elected to endow you with the knowledge which has come from many years of struggle and strife via a two-part blog post. Kidding. Co-writing is the best.

That being said, there are a great many things that one should be prepared to do in order to reap the most benefits from your collaborative project.

 

1. Everyone Has a “Chapter 10.” This is probably the most negative thing that we have to share, but it is a necessary thing. Your co-writing relationship will be tested. And tested a lot. One of the ways that this relationship will be tested is when you have a disagreement about plot. Or grammar. Or feels. Or characters. Or you find out that your plot has been breeding cute, little fluffy bunnies for months. It just happens and cannot be avoided. So when that time comes, ride through it with as much grace and serenity as God is willing to provide and hope the both of you are alive to tell the tale later on. Kidding. It’s only almost that bad. Brenna and I had a “Chapter 10,” Brooke and I had a “Chapter 10.” And look, we’re not too much worse for the wear. When you do hit your “Chapter 10,” get outside advice and make sure to set aside time to clearly articulate your feelings and opinions. Not in rant form. Because rants get no one anywhere ever. (Passive aggression is also not advised.) Be sure you are ready to compromise or even allow the other person to have what they want. With this attitude, you will conquer many a novel-esque conflicts with the maturity of a professional.

 

2. Establish a System. What is your POA (or Plan of Action for you non-military acronym learned people)? How are you going to write the book?  How are you going to edit the book once its done? These are important questions which you should assuredly have at least tentative answers to going in. Brooke and I, for all of eternity (we’re not that old; I’m kidding), have been using an outline method with alternating POVs (points of view). Meaning that, when we started a new book or series, we sat down at our laptops and talked on the phone for six hours writing an albeit, tentative, semi-comprehensive outline that featured an alternating pattern between two main characters. Now, as we have matured, we have brought in more main characters and story-telling devices, but the basis remains the same. Find something that works for both you and your co-writing compadre and stick to it. We would not suggest flying by the seat of your pants (by the way, if you want a history of this phrase, which Brooke and I discovered while writing this post, click here.) By assigning chapters and working through the plot at the beginning, you will be better prepared to edit and change the ideas you have because of the basis already established. Whatever it is that you choose, be sure that it is consistent and that everyone is on the same page to ensure that the beginning of your partnership is as smooth and well-organized as possible. This will prevent a lot of hick-ups in the long run, while also serving as a point of reference for the rest of writing project.

 

3. Communication Is the Key That Opens the Door to Success. While this is, in fact, an FFA metaphor from Success Conference, it is also true of most endeavors which require the cooperation of more than one individual. We are people. We have different ideas. Different imaginations. Different schedules. Different stress levels. Seriously, we’re different, yeah, we’re different. And admit you just sang that in your head. So communicate about all the things. Even if its just the fact that you’ve gotten a new hair cut (Skype is a great way to show that off, by the way). Keeping your writing buddy aware of the goings on in you life while also letting them inform you about theirs will ensure that you aren’t surprised when they drop off the face of the planet for a week or two because school started, they went on vacation, etc. This will also ensure that when problems arise, your first reaction is to talk it out and make the situation clear. Because you are a writer, you will assume the worst, and things bound out of proportions in your brain all the time. So be swift and poignant when you communicate. Have fun with it. If you characters are making snide comments, share the snide comments. If you had an idea for a plot twist, by all means share the plot twist (and don’t hide it from your co-author either, because that makes for bad ju-ju). Have an idea for feels? Share! You’re in the adventure together, so share stories like you’re around a campfire and plan out the next steps of your quest carefully. When things pop up or a brilliant idea hits you, talk about it. Also, don’t be afraid to laugh about your mistakes, remind your co-author of past insiders, and do some good ol’ fashioned catching up every once and again. You will likely get tired of the plot at some point during the writing process, and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t deviate so far from the book that you’ll never feel motivated to write about it again, but take breaks to just talk. Communication is very important. Do not forget this. Ever.

Ever.

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4. Assign Separate Duties. So you’ve got a plan. Great. What now? Perhaps one of the hardest things to do when collaborating with someone else is assigning duties early on. At this point, you’re probably still trying to preserve whatever delicate sliver of sanity you have left because writing, and actually calling things as they are and giving tasks is a lot like acknowledging the crazy. This is perfectly normal. However, forgoing assignments is a lot like forgoing studying before a big test. There’s a chance you might still pass through the valley unscathed, but you’ll be much more prepared to take on the world and ace that thing if you study. Similarly, you’re a lot more likely to succeed with your novel-writing endeavors if you take the time and say, “Okay, I’ll do [x, y, and z]. How about you do [a, b, and c]?” Brooke and I did this and still do this (on the aforementioned six-hour long phone calls). After brainstorming and building up a plan, we would then assign chapters. Sometimes we alternated. You take even, I’ll take odd. Sometimes we bartered. And sometimes, I was a stupid-head and took all of the battle chapters and left Brooke with all the infamous “journey” chapters in which pretty much nothing ever happened ever. But, the duties go beyond just who is going to write which part of what chapter. Duties can also include who is going to keep up with all of the documents, combine the book as we go, process ideas and jot them down, keep a character journal, buy snacks or appropriate instrumental writing music. Anything that is a high priority for you and your writing friend should be listed out and assigned. This cultivates security and eliminates some of the awkwardness of first starting a project. Something else to note here is that everyone is not meant to be the quarterback of the team. Meaning that you and your writing buddy need to figure out what your combined strengths and weaknesses are before you assign responsibilities. For example, I might not give Brooke the task of keeping up with all the documents because her computer has been known to get viruses and crash. Likewise, Brooke would not give me the more romantic chapters of the book because she knows I don’t write romance very well. By making sure that everyone has a manageable task to conquer at all times, you will ensure that there is always something that each of you can be working on independently from one another without piggy-backing on one or the other author too much.

 

5. Balance Out Those Assignments. You remember the thing I said about the battle chapters? Yeah, so you’re going to want to write all of the really exciting chapters. But so does your co-writing compadre. What? What do we do now? Balance. If one of you gets a journey chapter, the other gets a journey chapter. If one of you is keeping a character journal, the other should be keeping a plot journal. Be just and fair in your dealings. Believe me, you friend will know if you’ve given him or her the short end of the deal and now they’re having to write about the seven-hundred mile trek all by themselves while you’re off frolicking with your climax chapters and battle scenes. You will also both then establish skills in multiple areas. A lot of times, the reason we don’t want to write a certain type of chapter is because we are unfamiliar with it and aren’t sure how to handle it. Here is a benefit of having a partner in crime. Sometimes, you’ll find that what you are good at writing, the other person is not. And what you struggle with, they do not. Use each others’ skills to cultivate new and improved abilities that will stick with you through the rest of your writing career. While it may seem like a lot of prep work before you get started, you will find that the more you do it, the easier the balancing becomes and the more fun you’ll have writing with a friend. Besides, no one wants to be writing buddies with a  battle chapter grubber. They’re just no fun at all.

 

Hope these little tid-bits of the trade helped answer your question– or at least get you started in the right direction, Victoria! We’ll be posting part two of this article very soon, so keep an eye out. And if you have a question, comment, or something to add to what we’ve said above, put it in the down-below! We’d love to hear about your own experiences in co-writing and maybe some pointers that you have picked up along the way.

Suzanne Collins- the Writer’s Mockingjay

30 Jul

After two years of reading, ranting, raging, and tears, I finally finished the Hunger Games series a couple of weeks ago. Though I hated every character in turn by the time I got to Catching Fire, I find that I truly did like the series when I stop and reflect. Even though most of America probably knows what the Hunger Games is, I will summarize each book first and then add some comments.
The Hunger Games was good, though it was probably my least favorite in the trilogy. It was characterized by the title and by a young girl named Rue, who Katniss holds dear to her heart for the rest of the series. The love triangle among Katniss, Peeta, and Gale also begins around this time, though Katniss’s love for Peeta is staged at first.
In Catching Fire, Katniss returns from the arena to find a very different world. Rebellion is brewing in the districts while she is on the Victory Tour with Peeta, and President Snow is determined that she should try to squelch the flames. However, every one of her appearances seems to stir the rebels to action even more. Home is not what it used to be, either. With the preparations of her marriage to Peeta for the Capitol’s sake, Katniss is distressed, confused, and eventually finds consolation in her mentor, Haymitch. Haymitch, with his sarcastic “sweetheart” comments and drunken stagger, was probably my favorite character only next to Katniss’s costume designer, Cinna. Cinna was from the Capitol, but he showed more compassion and was more down to earth than the other stylists. He did not ruin himself with crazy hair, either. Every twenty-five years there is a quarter quell which is even worse than the regular games. This time, the game makers decide to send the past victors back into the arena. Old and young alike flood back to the Capitol to participate, including Katniss and Peeta. A terrible game ensues, but once again Katniss and her team outsmart the game makers.
After an unexpected abduction from the Capitol, Katniss finds herself forced to work for the rebels in District 13, a place that was thought to be destroyed decades ago. Times are hard, though, and Katniss ends up in the hospital almost every week. Peeta also was not taken with them and is possibly being tortured in the Capitol in the hands of President Snow. Mockingjay is when all of the troubles come to the surface and Mrs. Collins does not forget a single character. She manages to add more plot, more characters, and then rip you apart with them while still being consistent with her old ideas.
That is one of the points I want to make: Mrs. Collins does let her characters wander all across Panem, but she never loses them. It’s like she injected tracking devices into their arms! I do not know how she did it, but I believe every character was accounted for at least by the last chapter of Mockingjay. When Sarah and I wrote Wilderquest, we noticed a problem as we read back through it. We had so many characters that the plot was not reflecting prophecies or little sub-plots we had added along the way. In addition, there were several of our people who did not even have names to begin with. Such as King and Queen. Or quite literally, Guard #1 and Guard #2. That did not include the people we did have in one book that disappeared in the second. Ryan, Justin’s best friend, was an expert in this act. Seriously? Did he just abandon the mission and run away to a far off island while everyone else was on quests? I still have not figured that one out. Perhaps Suzanne Collins used the trick that my Uncle Dustin told me. I was on the phone one day ranting about our forgotten characters, when he came up with a brilliant suggestion: why didn’t I keep a character journal? Even if it was to only write down what they looked like and what influence they had in the story? It was a great idea and when Sarah and I finally penned it, we discovered that we had over 65 characters! Well, at least we learned something for next time.
A major thing that I noticed about the Hunger Games was from a writer’s point of view. It was ironically the point of view itself that stood out the most for me. Whereas most books use something like “Atrielle went to the store, but she only had two cents,” Mrs. Collins would say something like, “I am going to the store, but I only have two cents.” Not only is the book told in first person, but every action is live. No one “Knew,” they “Know.” Here is an example from page 35-36 of Mockingjay:
“…Gale sets his tray beside me and I try not to stare at his turnips too pathetically, because I really want more, and he’s already too quick to slip me his food. Even though I turn my attention to neatly folding my napkin, a spoonful of turnips slops into my bowl.
‘You’ve got to stop that,’ I say. But since I’m already scooping up the stuff, it’s not too convincing. ‘Really. It’s probably illegal or something.’ They have very strict rules about food. For instance, if you don’t finish something and want to save it for later, you can’t take it from the dining hall. Apparently, in the early days, there was some incident of food hoarding. For a couple of people like Gale and me, who’ve been in charge of our families’ food supply for years, it doesn’t sit well. We know how to be hungry, but not how to be told how to handle what provisions we have. In some ways, District 13 is even more controlling than the Capitol…”
Another thing I noticed is that Mrs. Collins dives into deep subjects in Mockingjay, such as the morality of war when it appears that the Districts are turning out to be just as cruel as the Capitol. All along the way, though, we never get bogged down in old English language or runaway descriptions. The prose is quick, snappy, and keeps up with the pace. It will make you read a hundred pages in one sitting. And I soon learned that it is hard to use the beginning of one of her chapters as a stopping point before bedtime. Just when you think the action is starting to slow down, something unexpected will happen. I eventually had to stop reading the book before bedtime. My mom would be like, “Calm down and read something for a few minutes,” and that was my cue to grin devilishly and declare that I was currently in the middle of Mockingjay. Yeah, well, that book does not shut up after you close the cover. The reading to “calm down” plan backfired and I learned to read it only on these blessed summer mornings, far away from the danger of repeating Katniss Everdeen’s nightmares or analyzing the last chapter.
Here is an example of Suzanne Collin’s writing style. She would use this especially in dramatic moments when Katniss is thinking, such as here:
“Underground. Which I hate. Like mines and tunnels and 13. Underground, where I dread dying, which is stupid because even if I die above ground, the next thing they’ll do is bury me underground anyway.” from page 296 of Mockingjay.
I wrote this review of sorts because I believe Mrs. Collin’s writing style is revolutionary. Instead of killing tributes or planning to assassinate the president, this writing fights some stuffy editors who would staunchly cling to grammar rules, which are in fact evolving all the time. And the marvelous thing about the Hunger Games is that Mrs. Collins never does break a spelling rule or change tense unexpectedly. All she does it make her phrases more dramatic by treating them as sentences. Like this. And I think that’s pretty cool.

On a Sort of Related Side-Note

27 Jul

Writing comfort foods include Strawberry Now-and-Laters, chocolate chips, and tea. That is all.

 

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