Monday, January 16, 2012

Question for you: Are you sticking it to the man?

I had the kind of weekend where I felt like I was merely surviving. Just keeping my head above water, doing what absolutely had to get done before I fell into bed at night. For those of you who have entered the Go Teen Writers 100-word contest, this means I'm way behind on confirmation emails. Hopefully I'll be catching up throughout the day. Thank you for your patience on that.

Today I have a question for you - is "the man" in your manuscript?

It occurred to me that these four very popular YA titles have and a common element of battling "the man." (Is stick it to the man an American phrase? Just in case it is, "the man" refers to the head honcho. Usually it applies to the government, but it can also apply to powers on a corporate level. Like your boss would be considered "the man.")




In the Twilight saga, Bella must battle the Volturi - the monarchy within the vampire community.


In Matched, Cassia is resisting the overbearing government as it interferes with her grandfather's life, her mother's job, and even her love life.


In The River of Time Trilogy by Lisa T. Bergren, "the man" element is slightly different since Marcello, the hero of the novel, could technically be considered the man. But Gabi and Marcello consistently fight the opposing government.


And "the man" element is most prominent in The Hunger Games trilogy where Katniss is practically sent to her death in the beginning of the first book for the entertainment of the capital city. (I saw the movie trailer last time I was at the theater and I got all teary. Very excited for March!)

These are books that have made a splash, made an impression with readers. All have love triangles (though they're more prominently featured in the first two listed) and they all have an authority figure who the main character must battle. Readers like rooting for a character who can see beyond his/her problems and fight for something bigger. In your novel, is your main character fighting for something bigger than his or herself?

20 comments:

  1. You know, I've never stopped to consider "the man," as such, but it's in fact a theme I really love. In LFY Annapolis my characters end up having to fight the founding fathers they respect above all. In my next release, she's a spy, so . . . yeah, some "man" involved there, LOL. And in my WIP, my hero starts out fighting FOR the man, then is left feeling betrayed and so has to reevaluate his loyalties--and is going to get a lot of flack for his decisions.

    Fun post!!

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  2. My WIP is a three-book series in which "the man" being the governmeny is the main bad guy. I never even heard of that phrase until now, though. Yes, the MCs in my WIP *definitely* fight for something bigger than themselves.

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  3. In my WIP the man is personified in my MC"s mother, who is the "leader" in the community (I haven't decided on a title yet...empress, queen, governor.....) She is actually changing the traditional "man" to a new kind of worldview and government, and my MC wants to go back to the traditional ways.

    Jordan

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    1. Oh my gosh, that sounds like an amazing concept. The fight of the MC to return traditional gender roles. Does the Mama see her fault in the end?

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  4. LOL I love that phrase. It always reminds me of School of Rock- Stickittothemaneosis- a rare blood disease that helps trick people into letting them audition for battle of the bands.

    Anyways. In one of my books the characters are spies and they are against "the man" or their agency. However, in my current WIP... the character doesn't really seem to be against the man...maybe a few men but not THE MAN.

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  5. The "man" in my WIP is the leader of an outlaw band and also happens to be doing a little bit of blackmailing and maffia type manipulation. He has a hold on my MC and is using him for dirty jobs.
    I thought long and hard about my "man" because all of my favorite novels have two, a really BAD guy and then another bad guy or bad element. Like Lorna Doone or Black arrow or Ivanhoe.

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  6. I love thinking of the antagonist this way--it personifies the thing your MC is fighting against. What a great thing to keep in mind while writing!

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  7. One or two of my ideas have that sort of theme, but not my current WIP. Usually my protagonists aren't openly defying or trying dismantle an oppressive establishment (that wonderful phrase was borrowed from Spongbob) but are going against it out of necessity. Like in one, the protagonist tries to save individual lives while going against government laws, yet she has to admit that it the laws were repealed, things would end up worse than ever. It's hard to decide whether "the man" is good or bad....

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  8. Hahaha . . . I love that phrase, 'sticking it to the man.' Actually, I think I can say I do 'stick it to the man.' Only in my novel(s), the 'man' is actually the 'men.' Also, a tactic that I've always found useful is to put in a LOT of family dynamics. For instance, in one of my novels, my MC is running from his biological family while on the run with his step-sibling. Oh, and an almost complete stranger. When you throw family dynamics into a very stressful situation, your characters really become real, and your readers will be able to really identify with at least one of them.

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  9. ah...no I'd never even thought about that!! but I am now...

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  10. Never thought about that before. Definately something I'll consider now.
    Thanks!

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  11. OMG I love Matched, although I forgot all about it until now. Anyway my WIP the girl is in the army and the guy below the "head hancho" keeps threatining her and she finds out that he's just looking to keep her quiet that way she doesn't tattle on him to the King.

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  12. in my novel, my main character isn't really fighting against "the man" shes more fighting against herself. is the problem? i never really notice this in books, so maybe its not a big problem?
    Shelby

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  13. Shelby, no it's not a problem. There are tons of books, tons of bestsellers, that don't have a "sticking it to the man" element to them.

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  14. Yes, absolutely. :) In fact, I think this is the main reason I love reading historicals, so much. Seems to be more drama, more "this is bigger than me." In the WIP I recently finished, "the man" was someone who not only wanted to destroy my FMC, but my MMC's kingdom as well. And in a sense, a lot of other "minor villians" were working against her. It was a fascinating write as I didn't half the time know what was going on! :)

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  15. My 'man', is Society, as in fashionable society (it has to be capitalised it's so important). My MC is fighting against Society which is trying to change her into something she doesn't want to be.

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  16. Yes, in my story I would say my character is fighting totally for elements bigger than himself. He's a speck on the map though, but that's what makes him visible on the map haha. This post sparked a lot of thoughts...thank you!

    http://wilsonftw.blogspot.com/

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  17. Love that movie Random Thinker. And that part is pretty hilarious. :D *laughs* It made me think of that, too.

    Hmm. I guess I'm being slow, but I don't really get what man we're talking about here...

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  18. I'm writing an epic fantasy that has three main storylines (one central plot and two major subplots). One of the major subplots is of the conflict between the main character and the state, who think the MC is a murderer. So, in this way, the MC is trying to achieve his main goal (to recover his lost memories - central plot), while always being confronted by both a group of dangerous people who want something he has (subplot) and the state who want him dead (subplot).

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