Friday, October 9, 2009

Because Geometry Is Not a Country Near France: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Hi Allyson,

I agree. Focusing on seeing the world through my character’s eyes is one sure way to create individual, memorable characters. And in this chapter there’s a vivid example of seeing through the character’s eyes—Junior’s portrait of his sister. We LITERALLY see her through his eyes.

Here, the story unfolds at a slower pace than in the previous chapters. Less action happens, Instead of action, Alexie fills in some backstory and introduces two characters who will become important to the story—Junior’s sister, and Mr. P. It isn’t until the last page of the chapter that something dramatic happens, when Junior heaves his geometry book directly at Mr. P. THAT’S action! Charting the tension of the first 6 pages in this chapter on a graph with a vertical axis from “flat” to “thrilling” might yield a wavering line, barely rising until the end of the chapter. But that preparation means the action at the end packs a huge wallop. As Katherine Paterson once said in a speech at an International Reading Association Conference, “Make them laugh, make them cry, but most of all, make them wait.” Alexie made us wait—and then he made it worth the wait.

Story Sleuths Tip # 4: Backstory and slower pacing can lead up to and heighten important dramatic action.

Over to you, Allyson.