08 June 2010

Getting in Touch with My Inner 13-year-old Feminine Side

As NEVЯLAND began to form in style and structure, I immediately decided to write from the viewpoint of a junior high school girl.

I really didn’t think much about it at the time because the Character came naturally as I thought about the story, but I’ve been asked by several why the protagonist is a 13-year-old girl.

I’ve written from the feminine viewpoint before but not for an entire novel let alone a series. My Universal Monster series has a strong 17-year-old female character and at least 1/3 of the series is told from her point-of-view, but she had to share the stage with two 14-year-old boys, so I didn’t spend the whole time with her.
 Originally, my lead character was 12-years-old and named Rianne Pfaltzgraff. Rianne was a 12-year-old student I knew when I taught middle school in Norman, Oklahoma, and I’ve always thought her name unique and have wanted to use it in a story for quite some time.
After I had outlined the first book, though, I realized that the lead character’s voice came from a 13-year-old named Laynie Price. Laynie is a student who just graduated from Altus High School, and one of my favorite all-time students and people.

As I outlined, I began to realize that the lead character was more like Laynie than like Rianne, and the name was changed.
I also realized the lead character had to be 13-years-old, a teenager, so she could take more of leadership role in the novel, have a stronger voice.

Viewpoint, voice, character—these are all writers’ jargon for WHO TELLS THE STORY.
Since beginning NEVЯLAND, I’ve thought about the possible reasons why the protagonist is female.

Remember, the following reasons are POST selection and didn’t consciously come to to the forefront of my mind until after I had outlined and written the tale.
Perhaps my subconscious selected the feminine voice – it’s deep and dark in there, and I don’t much like exploring my subconscious as I’m not too sure I’ll like what I’ll find once there.

So, here’s why I think the teller of NEVЯLAND is a 13-year-old girl.
  1. As a student and teacher of classical literature, culture, and mythology, I know and teach that Women have played a dynamic role in making the Human Race the dominate species on Earth.
  2. The earliest gods were Female—Women are Creators—Life comes from them. The oldest carving we have of a religious nature is a Female god.
  3. Men are, basically, destroyers. Although Men create, they create to confine, to produce, and to destroy: cities, machines, weapons. Men don’t necessarily create to produce life but to secure, sustain, and secure life.
  4. A female character is more apt not only to find a solution but to want to find the answer as to why all everyone over 18-years-old has disappeared.
  5. Sociologically, philosophically, and genetically, Women are nurturers and healers. Women have a natural disposition towards healing the body, mind, and soul—because Women see the body, mind, and soul as One whereas Men have a tendency to compartmentalize the three as separate but connected entities.
  6. One of the most over-looked and earliest strong female characters is Isis—who ventures throughout the world and even the Underworld to find and resurrect Osiris. If you haven’t read the story of Isis and Osiris, you must, especially if you’re a male writing from a female character’s point-of-view. All throughout the story, Isis only wants to save her beloved Osiris, and along the way, she saves the world and gives it the gifts of life and hope. She doesn’t even want to take revenge on Seth, who is the instigator in destroying Seth. She leaves Seth to wallow in his own misery.
  7. And then as the story progressed, a scene flashed in my mind like a migraine lightening strike:
    • You see, as of now, the series is five books.
    • The first book begins with Laynie at 13-years-old on the day everyone over 18 disappears and what happens during that first year.
    • Each book that follows concerns one year in Laynie’s life, what happens to the remaining children, and the explanation as to why everyone over 18-years-old has disappeared.
    • The last book takes place the day before Laynie turns 18-years-old.
    • Yes, everyone who turns 18 continues to disappear.
    • Laynie knows she will disappear the next day.
    • The remaining children call the disappearance “Rapture”—but no religious connotation is necessarily implied or explains the story.
    • Laynie has grown up in the past five years more so than a “normal” teen would in the “normal” world.
    • She now knows the WHY of the disappearance, understands it, and agrees with it.
    • She is making her final preparations for her Rapture the next day.
    • Here’s the lightening strike: She is writing her memoir for her daughter.
    • Suddenly, Laynie has a daughter—a seven-month-old daughter who will be left to the care of others when Laynie disappears.
Laynie giving birth was nowhere in the original planning of the story—her daughter just appeared as I was thinking about the last book and how to wrap up the story.

The relationship and bonding between a mother and her child is the glue that holds the universe together. A mother has a relationship with her child that a father cannot imagine nor imitate—no matter how much we evolve socially and men take on more of a rearing role of children.

A mother leaving behind her child begs for solution and resolution, and it pulls at the heart of any person.

Such a theme is not possible with a lead male character. A father leaving his child is sad but is does not have the devastating potential of a mother who leaves a child—of a child who is left without a mother.

I don’t know if my subconscious had all this in mind as my conscious mind began working out the plot lines for NEVЯLAND.

I’m sure my training, studies, and teachings of classical literature, culture, and mythology are swirling around in my subconscious like some sort of primordial soup just waiting for a catalyst to let it spew forth a story.

I learned a long time ago not to dwell too much on the whys, wherefores, and what’s-its of putting a novel together as I’m writing, to wait until after the novel is written.

I don’t really like thinking about why and how Story comes through me as I’m writing—I don’t have time—I’m too busy writing.

I’m not writing to be a teacher of writing but to be a teller of tales.

But, now that NEVЯLAND is well underway and is beginning to tell itself, I am beginning to reflect on the whys, wherefores, and what’s-its, and I am amazed at what I’m discovering.

See you on the bookshelves.

Larry Mike

PS: I know what you're thinking: If everyone continues to disappear, how can Humanity go on, survive?

Well, not "everyone" disappears when turning 18-years-old: Some are "saved" to begin again, and that's part of the secret and solution for NEVЯLAND, and you'll just have to wait to find who are left behind to start the world over again.

It's a sad happiness that Laynie is not one of the Chosen and will disappear on her 18th birthday and leave her daughter behind.

But, she understands and agrees. She is, however, essential to ensuring the Chosen are well prepared for the New Earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment