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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Advice For Writers From a Seventh-Grader: No Boring Parts

Guest blogger: Grace Brown 

I love The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It’s one of my favorite books, right up there with The Hunger Games. But I almost didn’t keep reading it, because the first part was boring.

I liked the VERY beginning because it didn’t start off with the main character, Thomas, in his normal everyday life.  It started right in the dystopian world, a maze.  Right after the very beginning, though, it slowed down while the author set up a lot of details, which I didn’t like as much. From the time Thomas came out of the box (p. 3) until the girl shows up (p. 58), it felt slow. I’m not even sure why it felt slow; maybe because even though some things were happening, and I was learning things about the maze and the other kids, Thomas wasn’t really DOING anything.

So why did I keep reading? I was in a competition with a friend for who would finish first. I’m glad I kept reading, because it’s one of my favorite books, but I’m not sure I would have otherwise.  I probably would have, because it’s on a list of books that people might like if they liked The Hunger Games.

I’m not sure that I’ll change my habits and continue reading something even if it feels slow. Maybe, maybe not. I’m not crazy about reading the boring parts.      

So don’t write boring parts.  

Note by Grace's mother, Cynthia: I just about fell off my chair when Grace said the reason she kept reading The Maze Runner. For my part, I didn't find the beginning of The Maze Runner  boring at all. But compared to the latter two-thirds of the book, it is somewhat "slower." It is a wake-up call to me that 7th-graders have a different perspective from adults, and I need to continually be reminded of that. Certainly, many kids like things slowed down a bit, but many want things to move very quickly. 

Grace and I were talking about types of books (she prefers dystopias and fantasy), and I mentioned realistic fiction. I love this quote by her:

"Ugh. Realistic fiction. That's like those books they shove on you at school."

No doubt, a 12-year-old will tell it like they see it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Grace Brown--Thank you for your timely post! You have just confirmed something I worried about in one section of the book I'm revising now. Several important things happen, events that matter very much to my Main Character, but the Main Character CAN'T do anything to be part of those events, or to change them. So I began to think, "Here's where a reader will shut the book." And now I'm trying to figure out ways to keep readers turning those particular pages.

    And when I give the finished manuscript to friends to read, I will be sure to say "Tell me where you are tempted to stop reading! Tell me if I've written any boring parts!"