Monday, October 12, 2009

Hope Against Hope: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Hi Meg –

I never thought of it that way before – how preceding a peak in action with a flatter section of story serves to heighten the peak. I like that.

Now we move into a very powerful chapter, charged with emotion. Junior learns about his sister’s passion for writing. He learns for the first time ever that there may actually be an option other than life on the reservation. He learns that there may be hope. And here is what I noticed as a writer—Alexie is heightening my interest in the story by asking new questions. First, through the mouth of the protagonist when Junior says on page 40, “But I still want to know exactly why my sister gave up on her dream of writing romance novels.” As a reader I pause here and find that I want to know the same thing. Then, when Mr. P. says at the end of the chapter, “Son, you’re going to find more and more hope the farther and farther you walk away from this sad, sad, sad reservation,” it is not Junior, but me, the reader who is forced to ask the question—is he going to do it? Is he going to leave?

Story Sleuths Tip # 5: Questions build suspense, whether they are posed by a character, or the situation begs that your reader ask them.

-- Allyson