I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Monday, February 17, 2014

5 Things I Learned About Writing a Novel from Reading the "Divergent" series

Take this post with a grain of salt...which is what you should normally do anyways, right? These writing lessons I've learned from the Divergent series are tips I am planning to put in my back pocket for the future. (I'm not currently writing a novel or anything like that.)

I'll try not to put in any spoilers.

1. Writing from first person (usually) makes the reader more emotionally involved in the story.
What would The Hunger Games be if not told through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen? The same is true of Divergent - Tris, the trilogy's main character, has a lot of thoughts and emotions swirling around inside of her, and, unless she's the one to tell the reader what she's feeling, we would not have much of a clue. (The third one gets really interesting when the perspective gets traded between Tris and another character - it's good to see the story from both sides and to be left hanging for the next part with one character while it jumps to the other character.) Though, I would argue that it's not essential for a story to be told from first person, it does get the reader up close and personal to the action. I mean, if not for Tris's eyes, would we have the same feelings for Four? Debatable.

2. Focus on a rebellion...with lots of moral choices.
Rebellion. Something all teenagers are dealing with in some degree at some point during adolescence. Blowing it up to large scale proportions (involving a whole population/country) and forcing moral choices about the value of life or having to choose the lesser of two evils really makes for a worthwhile read.

3. Remember that nothing can be gained/won (nor plot line solved) without sacrifice
I won't say much about this one because it would give away part of the third book, but, as you can see throughout human history, sacrifice has the potential to be the ultimate sign of love. (Think Jesus Christ.) Many people sacrifice themselves, beliefs, etc. throughout the series. (If you've read the series, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, what are you waiting for?) A good novel cannot forgo sacrifice(s). Period. 

4. Pack in the action.
A good fight scene. Things blowing up. People being rescued. Lives being threatened. Fears being faced. Oh, yes, please. Bring it on. (Just not in real life.)

5. All you need is love...and hate...and forgiveness/redemption.
Complex/multidimensional characters have real-world problems. And everyone deals with love, hate, and (hopefully) forgiveness. Tris has a complicated and evolving love story with Four. She loves her parents and her friends... But, as it is a time of unrest and rebellion throughout the series, there are, unfortunately, so many people Tris finds herself beginning to lose...or hate (and, thus, need to forgive). That's why we, as the readers, can connect so well to Tris. She is human. We feel her joy and pain. We face her struggles with her, both in her fear landscape and in the real (book) world. The series is ultimately a story of sacrifice and redemption - that's what has helped this series garner so many fans and so much support...but if I say any more, I fear I would spoil something.

Don't worry...the ending is safe with me...

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