Saturday, April 26, 2014

April Showers: Implicit Characterization

Hi folks, I've been sharing this month what waters my soul as a writer. I'm at the SCBWI Houston Conference this weekend. I had the pleasure of reading FREAKY FAST FRANKIE JOE by Lutricia Clifton from Holiday House as a homework assignment from Mr. Gary D. Schmidt (an author I've wanted to take a class from for a long time).  I will be honest the title was not exactly wowing me, but I thought I will give it a shot. Dang, I didn't get to bed until one a.m. and I'm getting too old for this. I could not put this book down. This is my favorite one in a long time.

Here's the nutshell synopsis from Amazon: "When twelve-year-old Frankie Joe's mother is sent to jail, he is uprooted from his home in Texas to live with the father he has never met, his father's wife, and his father's four "legitimate" sons in Illinois. Frankie Joe is miserable. Trying to adjust to his blended family proves too much to bear, so Frankie Joe hatches a plot to escape on his bike back home to Texas. For that he needs money, and so Frankie Joe's Freaky Fast Delivery Service is born. His deliveries win new friends, a place in the rural Illinois community, and a sense of achievement. But his planned escape is destroyed by a heartbreaking betrayal, and Frankie Joe needs all of his incredible resilience and the loving support of his new family to survive the devastating loss"

This book is a master class in implicit characterization. I knew every single person (haha, they were that real to me, not characters) after I read it. It's written in first person and I was totally immersed in main character Frankie Joe's POV.  He's a great kid who has been dealt an incredibly awful  hand in life.  Interactions, reactions, and inference stitch this book together.

Clifton doesn't bog down the story with narrative. I love the tension created through her implicit characterization (much showing, little telling). Like when Frankie Joe's dad says he's only had one legal wife, and Frankie Joe gets it internally -- he's not legitimate. I love that Frankie Joe is surviving because of his plan to return home, this is his interior reality, and then that is put up against this loving family and town of stability that is wrapping around him. All  kinds of tension are created from that. I love how much he loves his mother regardless of her faults and his heart shatters when she betrays him. There is such truth in the unraveling of Frankie Joe's perception.

If you want to write in first person, have a large cast characters that are real people, and write cut above middle grade fiction, consider reading this FREAKY FAST FRANKY JOE. BTW, I don't Ms. Clifton at all. I just loved her book.

So that's April Showers. Next month I will be offering some the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, release June 2014) for my PLUMB CRAZY May series.

This week we have a guest doodle from my artist son Jesse. He calls this: "British".

Here is the quote for your pocket:

I've never bought into any sort of hard and fast, this-box/that-box characterization. People are individuals. Yes, they may be expected to be a particular way. But that doesn't mean they're going to be that way. Margaret Atwood


Vijaya said...

It's great when you discover a new set of story people, no? Have a wonderful time at the conference Molly. Someday I will come to TX!!!

MollyMom103 said...

Thanks, Vijaya. I did have a good time. Oh I will be so glad to see you again. I might come to you sometime too! M.