Friday, June 2, 2017

Weaving in the Normal Abnormal

Summer nights. In Alaska, where I live and where my debut novel (releasing in August!) takes place, nights in the summer don’t look much different than summer days. I’m not above the Arctic Circle, so technically, we don’t have 24-hours of daylight, but the period from sunset to sunrise is twilight. May through July is my favorite time to adopt a puppy because the middle of the night visits outside give me the chance to see the midnight sun, like last night, when my not-really-a-puppy-anymore Yorkie needed to go out at 2 a.m. It could’ve been 2 p.m., except the city was quieter and I was tired.
For Alaskans and my characters in Betrayal of the Band, putting on sunglasses at 10 p.m. is normal, but how do you weave in something so normal to your characters that they wouldn’t think about it, yet it’s not normal to most of your readers?
  1. Action. As mentioned above, putting on sunglasses at 10 p.m. or squinting against the sun’s glare. Those are natural actions for the character which serve as a reminder to the reader that the setting is different from their normal. 
  2. Add a Character New to the Environment. Introducing a character, either as a POV character or a supporting character who is new provides the opportunity to talk about the unusual normals, because to them—like the reader—it isn’t normal. 

What ways have you seen authors make clear their characters’ normal when it’s abnormal for the readers?
Sarah Tipton decided she wanted to be sixteen forever, and she’s accomplishing that through writing contemporary YA fiction. In 2015, Sarah won ACFW’s Genesis Contest in YA, and her debut novel, Betrayal of the Band, releases August 2017. She finds plenty of creative inspiration in the heart of Alaska where she homeschools her five children. When she’s not sitting cross-eyed in front of the computer getting hand cramps, she enjoys running, reading, and getting crafty with yarn. 

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