Friday, January 4, 2008

An Introduction and Devices

Before I get to the topic of my post—devices—, I’m figuring I should introduce myself. My name is Megan, or shall I say my blog name, Meggy. I’m fifteen, write young adult novels, and recently snagged an awesome agent. My taste in books, as well as my writing style, lean toward lighthearted and humorous YA romances.

Now that I’ve finished talking about me and you all know that I’m not some random person spewing out opinions on things she knows nothing about (sheesh, I am a random person spewing out opinions on things she knows a little bit about), I guess I can continue.

Yesterday I finished reading The Boy Book by E. Lockhart, the sequel to The Boyfriend List. I highly recommend both, by the way. Each of them uses, what for the purpose of this blog, I’m labeling as devices. The two books use footnotes. The Boyfriend List uses, obviously, a list. It contains of all the guys the main character, Ruby, has been involved with, and the story unfolds coinciding with the list; each chapter has a different guy. The Boy Book uses excerpts of a book Ruby and her friends (well, some ex-friends, just read the book peoples!) wrote about the fascinating subject of boys to open up a chapter. In my humble opinion, these devices, on top of the main character’s hilarious voice, made the book unique.

Books with these type of devices have seem to become more and more common. E-mails, IMs, notes, blog entries, and lists are being incorporated into texts. Heck, some books are being entirely told through what would normally be devices strewn throughout a novel.

My work-in-progress is one such book. It’s told through not only email exchanges between a boy and a girl (who may or may not be a romantic item), but by a book the main male character writes about his real life romantic experience and sends to the girl. This device-filled glory is interrupted on occasion by a third person point of view from the girl as she remembers her own side of the story and bristles when the guy’s use of similes gets out of hand; he compares her butt to jello, for goodness sake!

This is a project that I’m rewriting. It was told before in first person from the girl’s point of view, no devices, no emails, just straightforward storytelling, but it lacked something. Then I came up with the idea above, and now I feel like the story—though there’s still that tremendous need for polishing still, oh, and finishing, oh, and adding the second point of view, you get the picture—actually has some spark.

So yay for devices! Yay for all the books that they give spark too!

Do you guys read any books that incorporate, or are told entirely in, such devices, and did you like the way they were used? Tell me in the comments section!


Andrew Carmichael said...

Great post Meggy! I, personally, love using devices in my writing.

Another YA author who made use of devices was Jaclyn Moriarty in her book The Year of Secret Assignments. It's a hilarious book that I highly recommend.

Haphazard said...

I remember The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I believe was supposed to be a journal. The only way you could tell such things are all the puzzles that them MC saw fit to draw in the book.

More in the YA vein, I remember the Pendragon series, which used the device of the MC's travel logs. Interesting, but considering the character's age, I thought it was sort of implausible that he would remember that much detail about everything if he only had a chance to write, maybe, once a week, and I don't think they would be that polished, but you know, it's suspension of disbelief for the sake of storytelling.

That's the thing about these sorts of storytelling devices -- you've really got to balance the realism of using such a device or gimmick with smooth storytelling. If you can do it, more power to you.

Good luck!

bethany said...

Okay, this subject has put a Prince song in my head, Darling Nikki if anyone is wondering....

Sometimes I like devices and sometimes they feel like filler. I'll try to think of some examples.

Meggy said...

Ha, I had a whole paragraph of examples, but was like, AHH, THIS IS TOO LONG!

And Haphazard, the good thing about my WIP is that the MC is an aspiring writer, so he set out to polish his writing.

In the beginning, he does tell the girl that he might have remembered inaccurately and that he possibly made up some of the dialogue, and of course, they will have some conflicting memories of things down the line.

bethany said...

First person who identifies the Prince line gets.... I dunno.... 5 rep points?

Post your list, Meggy. I'm curious.

Sophie W. said...

I love love love devices. The Inkheart series uses quotes about books, words and stories from other novels very effectively. The Gemma Doyle series uses poetry to frame each novel. It works very well, too.

Meggy said...

Ooh, I deleted it from my word document, but I mentioned The Year of Secret Assignments , TTYL books, and Confessions of a Boyfriend Stealer as told in all devices.

But I kind of cheated since I haven't read those.

A good book that I have read, though, that ocassionally incorporated blog entries was Diva by Alex Flinn. I've also just remembered another E. Lockhart (LOVE HER!) book, Dramarama, which used the device of audio tapes, which the very different Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher also used to create an amazing book.

bethany said...

An Abundance of Catherines has foot notes doesn't it. And there's a whole nother topic. Quirks. Protags with quirks. We'll save that for next week sometime....

I like lists, like Meg Cabot's All American Girl has lists, if i'm thinking of the right one.

I love top 10 lists like in HIgh Fidelity (though I haven't read the actual book).

Oh and the band name thing in King Dork, that was freaking hilariously awesome.

Kristina Springer said...

Hi Meggy!
Great first post! I like devices too and e-mails sound like a lot of fun! My first book, The Pass Book, is told through notes passed between four friends. It was a lot of fun to write but also hard trying to incorporate certain elements while sticking to the format.

p.s.- I'm actually reading the Boyfriend List right now.

Kristina :-)

Madeleine said...

Fun post, Megan!

I, too, love devices in novels. In fact, four of my favorite books-- The Year of Secret Assignments, An Abundance of Katherines, TTYL, and, of course, The Boyfriend List-- use them very effectively.

And... now I see that everyone has already mentioned these books in previous comments. But for anyone out there who is yapping about them without having read them, they really are quite magnificent, and you should head to the bookstore posthaste.

Go on, scram!

Trish Doller said...

I like Jessica Darling's diary entries in the whole Sloppy Firsts series.

Trish Doller said...

P.S. I love The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book. I love Ruby, hate Kim, and want Ruby to end up with awesome Noel.

Trish Doller said...

And to hog up the comments even further... I use several lists in Unbecoming. Jacey likes lists.

Meggy said...

I hate Kim, too. It's like, if you and Jackson Clare are so "meant to be," why don't you wait a little bit before you date him seeing as he just crushed your poor best friend's heart? Just saying.

hannah said...

Noel is without a doubt the best part of those books. I named my Noel after him...haha.

I'm a HUGE fan of Year of Secret Assignments and Abundance of Katherines. Other books I love that use devices--Perks of Being a Wallflower in letter format, Under the Wolf, Under the Dog half in journal, half in real time. Can't think of any more right now, but I'm sure they're tons.

Sublime turns out to be a big long letter...

Meggy said...

I spelled Clarke wrong. Wow.