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What’s Write about Punk?

Social media keeps me connected with the authors of the books I fall in love with. They continue to inspire, influence, and remind me why I need to keep on my writing journey. The annual Hay Festival had its 30th birthday recently. A Facebook page for the event posted a video of Neil Gaiman and he then reposted it. Gaiman attended the festival and was asked what influenced him most. He said: “It was 1976/1977, I was 15 going on 16. And it was punk. And the idea that in order to do something—you just did it. There was a chart in some fanzine. I remember that it said here’s a chord, here’s another, here’s another—now write a song. And that simplicity…the idea that you didn’t need big complicated things. If you wanted to do something—you did it. You can learn on the job. As an idea has built my life, changed my life, and shaped my life. And I’ve done so many things that I am manifestly unqualified for that I would never have dared to do, if punk hadn’t entered my life back in 1976/1977.” I was born about 7 years after this, but I knew what he was saying. Punk influenced...
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Authentic Dialogue in Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

As mentioned in previous posts, the WWAT crew just finished Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. In our group post, I spoke about how impressed I was with Ms. Ruby’s use of dialogue. There are quite a few great articles out there about writing authentic dialogue and formatting it appropriately, so for the sake of this post, I’ll just summarize some things. As writers we have several tricks when it comes to how characters speak to one another. Dialogue tags: This is of course when you denote the speaker by saying: he said/she said. ie. “Dialogue tags do the job,” he said. Action or Descriptive tags: This method makes use of a character’s actions before or after what is said. This method can be very powerful, giving the reader the added benefit of expression and movement. ie. He scratched his chin and glared. “So you like action tags, huh?” Again, I won’t get into when to use each one. The important thing is this–as a reader, our primary interest is knowing who is doing the talking. I want to highlight how Ms. Ruby does this–and let you judge the result. In the beginning of the novel, we have a scene between Finn, the main character and the aptly named Rude boys–a...
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When Nice Guys Finish First

Recently, my critique group read Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Not only did I sit there thinking that Ruby has a special talent for writing things in such a gorgeous way, (and in a truly creative and visceral sense), but I also fell in love with her characters. In particular, I was really taken by Finn. He’s a good kid. A nice kid. And here’s a YA genre spoiler alert: There are not a lot of nice guys out there. Sure, there are sexy romantic types. But most of the heroes are tough or dangerous or tortured or stuck up or filled with sleazy thoughts. And since I myself met my significant other at the age of eighteen—a kind, nice (but still totally sexy) boy—a guy whom I would go on to marry two years later (and am now celebrating 15 years together!!!), I thought I’d like to give a shout out to some of my favorite “nice guys” in YA lit. The Fault in Our Stars – August is special. No doubt, he’s grown up quickly with his dire cancer battle, but the way he relates to Hazel has us all bawling our eyes out at the end of the novel. My Life...
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The Magic of Imagery

Our critique group read Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap. It is a young adult novel with magical realism. Ruby’s voice is fantastic. She adds touches of magic to her descriptions. This is what immersed me in the real and created believability. Often, I’d forget the world was imagined.   How did she do it?  She emphasized the charm in the setting, the plot, its characters. She used the comparative devices of personification and metaphors to enchant the mundane. Throughout Bone Gap, the corn whispered, yapped, and twitched its green fingers. The scarecrows weren’t intended to scare off the crows, but to intimidate the misbehaving corn. The river sucked at legs, lifted and pulled a person forward. The honeybees whirled and the queen bee’s movements were determined. The characters in love even acted like bees: “The twitch of her nerves was like the beating of a billion tiny wings, as if messages passed from his breath and his hands through her skin and back again, the way bees stroke one another’s antennae, feeding on another by touch.” She showed the character’s worries with a black horse, a night mare. She brought to life love with the horse as well. It carried the young lovers through the...
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What Hooked Me: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Megan: So, Lauren Ruby has written this incredibly complex, lovely, funny book that takes place far from more popular settings. (OMG, if one more YA novel is set in the Northeast, I’m going to blow a gasket…there are other locales, people! Not that I mind these novels–in fact, I have some favorites set in NYC and New England–but…). Anyway, I think what I loved about this book, even more than the beautifully constructed writing, was the weaving together of the farm town location, with the sprinkling in of the international. What do I mean by that? Well, I’ve been to Poland. Actually, I am Polish. And I think it was so incredibly clever to make the beautiful girl a foreigner in this story. The culture barrier was perfectly imperfect, and I wish more authors would be comfortable with a more global approach, because I think teens (and yes, us grownups) can really benefit from trying to look at our world through the eyes of those who grow up in a different cultural experience. So I loved the Polish aspect, as much as I loved the corn being a character. It just struck the right balance between what we think we know, and what we...
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Welcome to WWAT!
What's WWAT? What's Write About This is a blog dedicated to examining what works in kidlit. By tackling various themes and topics, we'll break down passages, examine sentences, and explore concepts that make-up the components of successful writing. We welcome you back each week with a new post. Thanks for stopping by!
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