I’m finally — after two major life events, a grandchild and my daughter’s wedding — ready to start a new novel. I’ve found two mentor texts that I’m hoping will show me something about how to proceed.
Novels to Imitate and Learn From
Educators often use mentor texts when teaching writing to kids. The idea is to choose texts that in some way model the type of writing you want as a result. This means you need a good vision for the end result, or the mentor texts you choose won’t help.
For my new novel, I know that I”ll have quite a few characters and that the POV will probably change often; each section might be quite short; that I might be playing with 3rd person and omniscient POVs. I’ve been looking around and found two that are interesting in this respect.
The first is the 1979 Newbery book, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It features over a dozen characters; it moves in and out of omniscient and 3rd; it has very short sections. Interestingly, Kathi Appelt’s Newbery Honor book, The Underneath, also features multiple characters and she uses short chapters, changing POV often.
Permission and Hope. From these texts, first, I have permission to break the rule of only one main character, one main POV. That’s important. It can be done and done well. Which also gives me hope!
Direction to Start. I’m looking to these two texts as a direction for my first efforts. That does NOT mean I intend to write with a Raskin/Appelt voice. I expect to produce something quite different. Still, this is a place to start.
Reference and Teaching. I hope to learn how to move from POV to POV and keep the pacing fast, interest high, and reader involvement at the maximum. I think it will be helpful to refer to these mentor texts as I write the first draft; but I think it will be even more helpful as I work on revision later.
So, this week, I’m hoping to make a start, write a couple exploratory pieces, outline, work on character sketches. It’s a start.
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