Setting (and reaching) goals. I had one New Year’s resolution for 2011: to read more. Plain and simple. And I’m happy to say that I reached that goal. I was shooting for a modest one book a month and wound up reading 16:
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (fiction)
- Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua (nonfiction)
- 1984 by George Orwell (classic fiction)
- Supreme Justice by Philip Margolin (fiction)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (YA fiction)
- I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (fiction)
- Half a Life by Darin Strauss (nonfiction)
- The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory (fiction)
- Sweet Valley High: Double Love by Francine Pascal (YA fiction)
- Sweet Valley High: Secrets (YA fiction)
- Sweet Valley High: Playing with Fire (YA fiction)
- Sweet Valley Confidential: 10 Years Later (fiction)
- The Submission by Amy Waldman (literary fiction)
- The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (fiction)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (classic fiction)
- Fallen by Karin Slaughter (crime fiction)
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (YA fiction)
And right now I’m in the middle of The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.
For 2012, the plan is the same, to continue reading, but I’ve added two bold writing resolutions:
- To finish the final draft of In the Red (the first draft is nearly completed);
- To finish the first draft of Baby Carter (the sequel to Baby Grand).
I think it’s important to set goals for yourself. They can help guide you along your path — as long as they’re realistically attainable. Will I reach my writing goals for 2012? Who knows. I hope so. And I intend to make it so, and that’s good enough for me!
What are your New Year’s resolutions?
Make sure your narrator and his/her narrative voice jibe. Although I’m currently reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, this week I picked up another YA book my 14-year-old son had discarded on the dining room table. I read the first three short chapters to pass the time while some photos I had taken were uploading, and when I was done, I took a peek at the back cover and discovered that the narrator of the story, whom I had surmised to be a 12- or 13-year-old girl, was actually intended by the author to be a 17-year-old young woman.
This took me by surprise. Being the mother of a 12-year-old girl, I felt that the narrator was familiar to me and had a personality similar to that of my daughter — the wide-eyed innocence of a girl on the brink of adolescence. To me, a 17-year-old young woman, who was supposed to be from New York City, would have acted a bit more maturely. The story had an old-fashioned sensibility, which was fine, but discovering the narrator was actually a 17-year-old made her came across as inauthentic. Even my son dismissed the book after only reading a handful of chapters, calling it “cheesy.”
I wondered why the author decided to make her narrator 17 when I thought the story, as is, would work much better with a younger girl. To be fair, perhaps I’d have a different impression if I had continued reading, but it was a reminder of the importance of having an authentic narrative voice. If you decide to write your book from the perspective of, say, an eight-year-old boy, be sure you know the way an eight-year-old boy not only speaks and acts, but thinks. And consider the time period. Had this book been a work of historical fiction, I think the author may have gotten away with having such a naive 17 year old. But since the setting is modern-day, this narrator is competing with the Katniss Everdeens and Bella Swans of the world for the attention of today’s savvy young adult readers, who know a phony when they see one.
So I spend 13 weeks watching AMC’s The Killing, totally engrossed, trying to figure out who killed Rosie Larsen, thinking I was so smart one episode, and then thinking I was totally clueless the next. And last night, during the season finale, just when I thought I would finally find out who did it and (more importantly) if I was right… wham! There is no answer. Only a cliffhanger. Gotta tune in to Season 2 to find out.
I’m not a big fan of when books and movies and television series do these things. Readers and viewers have invested their time into these projects and deserve some kind of resolution, no? I remember fuming when coming to the end of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, a monster of a book that had absolutely no ending at all, leaving readers with an advertisement for its sequel, Lasher. Even the ending to Suzanne Collins‘ The Hunger Games, which I really loved, left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Should I really have to read Catching Fire to find out who Katniss chooses, Gale or Peeta? Will I even find out in the sequel? (Don’t tell me. It’s on my reading list.)
Just on principle, I have a good mind to boycott Season 2 of The Killing and show these producer-people how they can’t do these things to us, how we readers/viewers are not to be toyed with, how we deserve more than a wild-goose-chase ending or having a carrot dangled in front of us indefinitely.
But I know myself. I’ll get over it. And I’ll be sitting on the couch, enthralled, during the opening credits of Episode 1, Season 2.