San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
The third of three special Reading As Writers meetings this summer!
Not Your Typical Book Club
Reading informs our writing. Reading with intent can push us to the next level of our craft. Our goal in this special series is to examine how three award-winning authors have brought their stories to life, and in doing so, learn how we may hone those same techniques.
Please read each book before its assigned meeting, then roll up your sleeves for a lively discussion of the craft techniques used by the author.
This month: 2013 Printz Award-winner In Darkness, by Nick Lake.
How does the author use Shorty’s senses to bring the setting of his story to life for readers?
How does the author introduce Shorty’s desires? His conflicts/obstacles?
How does the author share Shorty’s backstory with the reader? Would you do it differently?
Does Shorty’s character change over the course of the story? If so, how?
Why do you think the author juxtaposed Shorty’s story with Toussaint L’Ouverture’s story? Would Shorty’s story have made a satisfying book by itself?
Voice / Dialogue
How does Shorty’s vocabulary help create his voice? Does it reflect his being male? A teen? Trapped?
How would you describe the plot of In Darkness: its shape, its divisions, its important moments?
Author Nick Lake has said that he heard an earthquake survivor report that, when trapped under rubble for a long time, he eventually couldn’t tell whether he was talking aloud or in his head. Lake used this idea for Shorty (p. 2). How did Lake continue to make this concept happen for readers?
Shorty tells his own story. How might third-person narration have affected his chapters?
Lake uses third person for Toussaint’s chapters. How might first-person narration have affected them?
Why do you think the author chose different narrative perspectives for Shorty’s and Toussaint’s chapters?
What themes stood out to you? How early did the author introduce them? How did he carry them throughout?