Posted by: nancyisanders | August 29, 2016

Oldie But Goodie: More Middle Grade Musings

OK. I discovered I’d written even more posts on Middle Grade Novels…Here’s another one.

Everything I Need to Know about Middle Grade Novels I Learned from Jurassic Park
Part 4

Previously, I explained how fantastic characterization was used and developed in Jurassic Park. Each character had unique qualities, a distinctive voice, and over-the-top personality. However, Jurassic Park 2 (Lost World) and Jurassic Park 3 did NOT have the same use and development of characterization. As a result, the second and third move seemed flat and boring compared to the first.

In Jurassic Park 2, they gave each main character just one unique characterization, so they were essentially only as important as the minor characters in the first movie. None of them had three unique traits as did the main characters in the first movie, so none of them appeared 3-D. Plus, in Jurassic Park 2, even the one unique characterization of each actor was just kind of mentioned to introduce them but was NOT developed over the rest of the movie or used to influence the plot.

Main Characters:
The math guy (Malcolm): He still believed in chaos. However, unlike the first movie where every sentence of his was either a wisecrack or a reference to chaos, in the second movie, he just said mostly ordinary statements in his dialog. He did not change by the end of the movie.

The wealthy guy: He was just kind of not nice. There was nothing over-the-top about him, though. He was just kind of an ordinary wealthy guy who wasn’t very nice. Compared to the over-the-top computer geek bad guy in the first movie, this bad guy was bo-o-ring. Too ordinary.

Hunter guy: He was a very typical big game hunter. But again, that was it. One dimensional and flat. Also, his character wasn’t really developed through the movie. He was just the typical big game hunter. By the end of the movie, he changed to be sad about capturing the T. Rex. But this was a weak change because it hadn’t been developed well. He just changed and it didn’t even affect the plot.

Minor Characters:
Photographer girlfriend: She was supposed to be a safari expert in beginning but then this was forgotten because she made silly mistakes all the rest of the movie a safari expert would never make. The rest of the movie she just talked and acted like an ordinary person.

Daughter: She was a gymnist. This was mentioned once at beginning, then forgotten, and then her gymnist skills saved the day. Since this wasn’t developed through the middle, it seemed fake to bring it back in at the end.

Other minor characters didn’t even really have unique characterizations, so we didn’t even care what happened to them. They didn’t add tension to the plot or help move the plot forward. So not only were the characters one dimensional and flat in Jurassic Park 2, the plot was therefore also weak.

Seeing these weaknesses and analyzing them has really made a difference as I’m working to develop my characters for my middle grade historical novel. So far, I’ve only written two chapters of my novel. Before I proceed any further, I’m working on giving the main characters each 3 distinctive characterizations that I plan to develop in the beginning, middle, and end of the book. I plan to use these characterizations to also affect the plot by moving it forward or throwing obstacles in the way. Plus, I plan on giving my minor characters each one distinctive quality and a distinctive voice so that my readers care about each one. I am also working to figure out how each of my minor characters will use their one unique quality to save the day or ruin everything. This will increase the tension and add dimension to the plot. I’m doing all this BEFORE I write the book so that I make sure to add these qualities in as I’m writing the story.

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