This page has moved to a new address.

On Beginnings: WAKE by Lisa McMann

Cheryl's Musings: On Beginnings: WAKE by Lisa McMann

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


On Beginnings: WAKE by Lisa McMann

wakeYesterday, I blazed through Lisa McMann’s YA paranormal, WAKE (Simon Pulse, 2008). It’s a fun, fast-paced, gripping read about a girl who gets sucked into others’ dreams—which turns out to be problematic when students nap during classes.  

This book is worth checking out, though, because of the author’s unique (and successful) approach to the book’s beginning. Know how you’re “not supposed” to dump backstory in the opening chapters? McMann does exactly that—and makes the reader love every second of it.

The book opens with a scene in the present:

December 9, 2005, 12:55 p.m.

Janie Hannagan’s math book slips from her fingers. She grips the edge of the table in the school library. Everything goes black and silent. She sighs and rests her head on the table. Tries to pull herself out of it, but fails miserably. She’s too tired today. Too hungry. She really doesn’t have time for this.

And then. 

And then we’re pulled into the dream with Janie. The first chapter covers six minutes in just over two pages of text.

The next chapter is titled “Where It Begins” and it takes us through Janie’s dream experiences from age eight to the present. Backstory, presented in a series of scenes titled with dates and times. Twenty-four pages of it before we return to present-day Janie on the first day of school, August 30, 2004.

Why does it work? I think it’s because McMann adopts a style that reads almost like a series of incident reports: terse, but so packed with compelling information that it draws you ever onward. She writes in present tense, lending immediacy to every page. The third person narrator feels just distant enough to add to the incident-report feel of the book.

This style choice lets McMann pack key stories from Janie’s past into a relatively short amount of space. Sure, she presents a ton of backstory in the second chapter, but she does so by flashing the reader through one intense scene after another. The short scenes continue, resulting in a book that (for me) was surprisingly difficult to put down.

Check it out!

:) Cheryl

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home