Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seeing Your Story In Published Books and Beyond

                 image from creativenonfiction.org

This has a longish title but trust me, it could be longer. The basic premise of this post is to discuss the situation of reading/listening to a book or even watching a movie/show that reminds you of the very book you're writing or an idea you're developing. And to clarify: I don't mean the feeling like copying or being influenced by someone else's writing. I am talking about just a spark that brings back a memory or changes your thought process from just listening/reading/watching to thinking about your own creative works. I don't know if everyone feels this but it is something that I have come across recently while listening to the podcasted version of Brave Men Run by Matthew Wayne Selznick.
http://www.mattselznick.com/writing/fiction/novels/brave-men-run/ 

So far, the book has been an interesting one to listen to. I won't go into too many details but it centers around a male main character (who, despite the title is in high school) that is different than his peers. He has abilities that make him different as well as a few certain physical features. Does this sound familiar to anything you've heard of?  For me, it is like my mutant stories. Even though I haven't heard a question of genetics in the book, it does have some similarites and so I find myself thinking about my own novels when I listen to this book. Are my novels very similar to this published one? No, not really. But since you've read this far I'm sure you won't mind listening to me talk about my novels anyways.

The one I'm doing my first rewrite on happens to be about a young teenager, sort of like Nate (from Brave Men Run). I'm not sure on Nate's age but do know he's in high school. My main character, Ephram started out 12 but I'm not able to keep my language for him and such at a 12 year old level and have come to realize the series will work just as well if I made the character a little older in the first book. So, he's closer to 15 now. He is a loner in his school, but keeps his exact difference hidden by making sure no one can see the identification item he is forced to wear. So, I see some similarities in my main character and how he has to face others in the school as well as his parents. Though, he doesn't get a love interest yet, unlike Nate.

One other major thing caught my attention when listening to this book and it was a small one. Just one comment made in a single chapter so far. There was a discussion after the name was given for those with differences about what it'd be like to have an army of people with those abilities. The reaction wasn't a positive one and it brought me right into my other mutant novel (the one I'm writing this year even though it was not planned at all for 2010). In the hero novel, the main character is against the military, he refuses to be a part of it or even show how much he is really capable of because he fears that he will be a weapon.

When I listen to this book I can't help but think about my own works in progress. I think about them and get excited about their ideas all over again. Maybe this will help me get further on the rewrite since I'm still on chapter 1. At least I'll be getting closer to finishing Hero as well since I've chosen to write 35,000 words on it for the month of March.

Is this something you've experienced?

2 comments:

Matthew Wayne Selznick said...

Hi Dawn -- I'm (naturally) pleased to see you're listening to the podcast edition of my first book, "Brave Men Run - A Novel of the Sovereign Era!" I'm also happy to know that the similarities between my work and your works has inspired you in some way.

I can relate your experience -- indeed, when "Heroes" first appeared on television, people asked me if I was irritated that the series seemed to share so many ideas with my own book and its Sovereign Era setting. But if I was going to be bothered by that, I would have to expect all the authors of comic books and other "super-hero" fiction from the last forty years to be troubled by "Brave Men Run!"

Similar ideas, or different approaches to themes and concepts you're working on, can be seen as a kind of validation, I think. I think that as long as we all focus on telling the best stories we can, there's plenty of room for us all.

Best of luck with your work, and thanks again for mentioning "Brave Men Run - A Novel of the Sovereign Era!"

Best,

Matthew Wayne Selznick
http://www.mattselznick.com

Harley D. Palmer said...

Hey Dawn! I really like your blog here and you have some great entries going!

I am at a loss at what to post often times so I created a little game! It's a way to get to know me too if you want to check it out!

Blog Questions Game

I LOVE the book shelf you got over there. That is awesome!