The Randomly Special Ones

There’s a story motif that’s really popular in YA fiction, where certain individuals, usually ones who are underdogs in the beginning of the story. Their story kicks off the moment they find out they are somehow special, or chosen, have special powers. Harry Potter finds out he’s a wizard. Talia of the Valdemar books is chosen by the head companion magical white horse to be a Herald. They form a telepathic bond with a dragon, or some other animal, and become part of some order. A million other examples.

They discover they’re part of a special world and get taken away, and though there are bullies and selfish people just like everywhere else, they’re still special and get to do all these wonderful things. It’s a story structure that’s quite popular and successful, especially in YA fiction.

And I hate it.

It’s not that those books aren’t good, or even that I didn’t enjoy at least some of them. It’s just that, it seems a cop-out to make certain people randomly special, to pull them into the story. And I always think, what about the muggles? What about the one’s left behind? Do they get to do amazing things? What happened to the stories where a character wants to do something so badly, they will fight through anything? But if a Muggle wanted to do magic, they’d just kind of be screwed.

Anyway, I had this neat idea for a premise that I thought would be good for my next nanowrimo novel. It would be set in a world where people are bound to the earth in a magical way, so that if they go too far off the ground, they get sick. People wouldn’t live on second stories of buildings, or build towers. If a person was ill, the village doctor would prescribe a few nights sleeping on the bare grass. But every once is a while, there’s a person who isn’t earth-bound. In fact there’s an order of them, who fly aeroplanes. And of course, my main character wants nothing so badly as to fly, so of course it would turn out that she’s sky-bound. I had a fairly simple, standard YA novel plot to play with – nothing so complicated as usual, though, and I was looking over it for some twist to up the ante and make the plot got bang somewhere.

Then I realized what I’d done, and I hated it.

And I thought, well, what about the people who want just as badly to fly, but they’re earth-bound?

That was when I had my story.

I will be having some fun kicking around some tropes this November.


My Fascination With Flight: Part 1 – First Time Off The Ground

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of flight. From birds to dragons, to airplanes -things that can fly, to flying myself. And now it’s creeping into my fiction – in the novel I’m shopping around right now, there are multiple characters who are pilots and flying plays a huge part in the plot. It seems inevitable, looking back, that I would eventually start writing about flying – the only thing that stopped me before was not knowing anything about planes besides the basic theory of aerodynamics. I figured writing about them is the closest I’ll get to flying them myself.

So I’m going to do a series of posts about planes, and my experiences with flight.

My first experience was at Crow Duck Lake, on the Whiteshell. My Dad’s got a family friend who runs a fishing resort out there, and we used to go out there every year. Bill, my Dad’s friend, had a little yellow Twin Otter docked by the beach, and one day he took us up in it. After that, the first time I was on a commercial aircraft, it was nowhere near as exciting.

It’s not for everyone – people who are afraid of flying would handle that even worse than a commercial plane. I loved it, and I can’t even describe what it is that I love about it. I’ve been up in a small plane once since then – a Cub, flown my my mother’s second husband’s father (my step-grandfather at the time, and yeah, my mom’s on her third husband, so I can’t even just say my step-grandfather.)

Being in a small plane like that, it’s a completely different experience. You can see better, out the windows, and where you’re going, more like you can see out of a car. You can see the ground, and the lakes all around. You can feel being in the sky.