One of the essential parts of being a good writer is reading - a lot. Consider it research. At a writing conference last year, one of the presenters said that we can see everything a writer does to be successful right there on the page. It's not a mystery. It's clear as day and right in front of our faces. We just have to slow down and really see the words, the sentences, and every page.
This will be the start of a new series. When I find authors who do it right, I'll feature them and analyze some of their techniques, creative ideas, and how they broke traditional rules to make something incredible.
So, introducing "Atlantia" by Ally Condie.
I've been waiting for a book that pulled me in and left me wanting more. Finally, I discovered "Atlantia" by Ally Condie. From the first page, I was hooked, and I loved the direction she took this book. Here's what she did right:
1. Chose an Non-Traditional Mythical Creature as Her Main Character
There are a ton of books about fairies, witches, and dragons. Instead of using any of these mythical creatures, or any others just like them, she chose something completely different - a siren.
I, personally, have never read a book from a siren's point of view, and it was refreshing. What a fantastic idea! Traditionally, sirens are seen as mischievous, dangerous, and murderous. You're never shown the humanity of such creatures. Condie changes all that. She made sirens multi-dimensional, relatable, and - believe it or not - likable.
Now I feel inspired to do some research on notoriously "evil" mythical creatures, and then use one of them as my main character. It will be a challenge, but if it turns out similar to "Atlantia" in any way, it would be well worth it.
2. She's an Expert at Creating a Dystopian Society
This isn't the first book I've read by Condie. A few years ago, I read the "Matched" series, and I loved those, too. Those books were also based in a dystopian society, as is "Atlantia". The cultures and societies she builds are solid, stable (as much as they can be for a dystopia), and they're intriguing, the latter being the most important part.
In "Atlantia", there are two societies, one above the water and one below. They've worked together for years to help each other survive, but there are too many secrets and lies for it to last any longer. It's all about control, confusion, and manipulation - all three essentials to a dystopian novel.
3. Meaningful Character Names
Sometimes a good story is all about the details, no matter how trivial they may seem. Condie didn't just pull her character names out of a hat. She had to put some thought into it. For example, some of the character names of those who live under the water in Atlantia include: Rio, Bay, Oceana, and Maire (which is pronounced the same as " la mer" in French, which means "the sea").
All these names just helped to solidify this story and the society she created.
If you haven't given this book a try, or any others written by Condie, put it on your list. You won't be disappointed. If you want to give her "Matched" series a try, you can find them here:
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.