Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Newsie Tuesdie and a Tip

Alright, great news!  This last week, I got the chance to meet with my graphic designer, and she gave me a sneak peak of my cover!!!!!!!!!!  It is AMAZING! A million times better than anything I could've imagined!  Seriously!  She's a genius.  Check back next Tuesday, and I'll give you all a little taste of what's brewing.

Another great bit of news; I'll be posting my first chapter on my website in the not too distant future, and then you can all sample my book for yourselves!  This is truly a very exciting step in the whole publishing process, because, once this happens, it will mean that my manuscript is finally in the hands of the publisher, and that we're just that much closer to my release date.  EEEEEK! I'm so excited!

Now, for a tip--well, actually this is more an insight.  I've been reading this book, Story by Robert McKee, and so far it's fantastic.  Today I came across this passage that I wanted to share with you all. In this particular chapter, McKee was addressing the various reasons why the quality of story has eroded over the years.

The final cause for the decline of story runs very deep.  Values, the positive/negative charges of life, are at the soul of our art.  The writer shapes story around a perception of what's worth living for, what's worth dying for, what's foolish to pursue, the meaning of justice, truth--the essential values.  In decades past, writer and society more or less agreed on these questions, but more and more ours has become an age of moral and ethical cynicism, relativism, and subjectivism--a great confusion of values.  As the family disintegrates and sexual antagonisms rise, who, for example, feels he understands the nature of love?  And how, if you do have a conviction, do you express it to an ever-more skeptical audience? This erosion of values has brought with it a corresponding erosion of story. 

I thought this point was particularly potent--that society's decline in values is affecting our story quality.  I've always felt that if you're going to spend all the time--and it is a whole heck of a lot of time--writing a novel, you should make sure that it's going to 1) offer some profound insight into a universal truth, and 2) that it's going to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, as McKee says in his first chapter, there is a lot of mindless, dumbed down nonsense flooding the literary world, a reflection of societies muddy lines between right and wrong. 

But when you look at the books that really resonate with the world, particularly in YA lit, you find a common thread: the evil in these works is truly and universally evil, and the good is truly and universally good.  No matter how far values decline, I think there is something in all of us that will always be able to recognize good and evil--if it is purely good vs. evil.

Here are some of the greatest YA books that, I feel, illustrate these polars the best:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (Series)
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (Series)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (Series)
Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Series)
Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Series)

I was recently talking to a writer friend about this; she was worried that her book was too political, or pushing some kind of an agenda, and I pointed out to her that her book didn't address political issues, it addressed ethical issues--issues that for the most part, humanity still considers to be evil. 

I agree with McKee, but I also think this is a call to action for writers.  We need to dig deep in ourselves and weigh what we write against our deepest convictions.  If we don't weave our stories from the fabric of our souls, then the falsehood of what we're writing will bleed through to our story. We will end up being just one more rootless author doing absolutely nada to remedy the erosion of our craft.

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