There is something about a novel that has all its ducks in a row that makes it good… no matter the subject or the intent of the author.
I mean, not ALWAYS, but most of the time.
I know this is cliché to write about writing on a writing website, but I just finished the Warrior Witch duology by Greta Kelly and though it is not a genre that I typically read or enjoy… young adult fantasy… I found myself drawn into the novel almost despite myself.
That sounds snobby.
I don’t mean to be snobby. I just don’t usually find interest in the Sarah J. Maas genre — the easiest way of describing what I mean — mostly because I’m old (trust me) and I am most definitely not the targeted audience.
Inevitably, I find myself bored with the genre, if not downright irritated.
Greta Kelly’s novels, the first one especially, surprised me because I did find myself engaged and caring. I am one of those deep dive readers. Sure, I can read any novel and analyze it (hats off to all that post-grad education); but I rarely do that kind of reading anymore. Instead, I read and if I am pulled into the story, I tend to be really pulled in. I stay there. For days.
And so, I picked up this duology thinking I would try it (I always try) despite the fact that Greta Kelly’s novel about a 22-year-old witch attempting to save her country from an evil dictator, has all the buzz words of a story that I would shrug at.
I dove in and finished both books in about a day and a half.
And I grew curious as to why.
So, after emerging from the duology, I went back to my old ways and analyzed the “why.”
My discovery: it’s the plot.
Greta Kelly’s plot is as tight as any I’ve read in a while.
The first book especially is almost without any plot hole.
It is a tightly woven tale, which though dips into the cliché and two-dimensional character, does not stay there. It pulls the reader right along and I found myself ignoring the dips and moving right along as well. There were some surprises, little twists that kept it interesting, but mostly the plot stayed glued to the intent of the story.
No meandering for this young adult fantasy.
The second book is not quite as tightly woven. I have a feeling that the duology was originally written as a very large 900-page novel that then was separated upon acceptance, and there is some… exhaustion, in the second book that suggests a wandering.
(of course, I could be wrong and that would make sense too as sequels are notoriously hard to write)
Either way, adhering to that plot line helped elevate these books above their peers.
Of course, the plot wouldn’t have mattered if the MC was whiny or annoying or evil or… well, fill in the blank. I have found young adult fantasy, especially, is all about whether or not the reader can connect to the MC, which is probably why I have such a difficult time reading them because, as I said… old.
So I connected to the MC as well, or at least, was okay with her actions and thoughts.
Still though. The plot.
Anyway, my point in all of this meandering?
Well, we, as writers, sometimes forget that though the idea is important, and the characters are important, and even the “lesson” of the story is important, the actual plot is perhaps one of the most important.
How the story moves. The idea that snakes throughout and which must be adhered to closely.
Don’t wander, my writer friends.
Or well, I guess I should say… don’t wander too far?
Or, maybe I should just leave off on the advice, focusing on my observations.
What think you, readers, of what I have surmised?