Friday, October 29, 2010

Same, Yet Different

I just heard back from Nancy Hinkel, the editor for my MASON DIXON series that will be coming out next year from Random House, with her comments on the manuscript for the third book in the series, Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters, following after Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters and Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters. The good news: she thinks the manuscript is "a delight to read" and generally "swell." The bad news: she thinks the story arc of this one is too much like the story arc of the first two books.

Of course, my first thought was: well, that's because it's the third book in a series! In a series there is going to be a certain, shall we say, similarity among the books! In all my Dinah books (Dynamite Dinah, Dinah for President, Dinah in Love, and Dinah Forever), Dinah is a likable narcissist who has her self-love a bit chastened; in all my Gus and Grandpa books, Gus experiences some kind of second-grade problem that Grandpa helps him to solve; and in all the Mason Dixon books, Mason first expresses reluctance to engage in some activity (getting a pet, joining the fourth grade chorus at school, trying a team sport) and then comes around to find himself more enthusiastic than he had expected.

But there does seem to be something especially predictable about this standard story arc for the Mason Dixon books, I'm starting to think. And I trust Nancy on this completely. So now my challenge is to find some way to make this third book different, while still making Mason be Mason (curmudgeonly, sarcastic, expecting the worst) and his best friend Brody be Brody (hyper-enthusiastic, sunny, expecting the best).

I know I can do it. Heck, it has to be possible or Nancy wouldn't expect me to do it, right? My question right this minute is HOW.

1 comment:

  1. Claudia, you will probably think of the answer
    at a time when you are totally NOT thinking about the question. It seems to work like that sometimes. -- Carol Linda