Throwaways: A Young Adult Novel
Dixon, Lauren C.
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In this creative dissertation I present my novel Throwaways and an essay regarding the writing of Throwaways. In the essay I discuss my process in writing fiction, the techniques I relied on to create the novel, the inspiration I found in reading other writers, and the strategies and categorical contexts I studied in preparation of writing a young adult, fantasy novel. In the essay I discuss the difficulty in writing fiction as it requires the writer to inhabit multiple worlds and to understand the logical aspects regarding the operation of an imaginary world. I review how reading fantasy, horror, slip-stream, and young adult literature taught me strategies in building rounded characters and in using experimental techniques to signify shifts in character point-of-view. From a number of authors, I studied how to use object as character, twist endings, instability of the world, changing realities, disruption of traditional plot structures, as well as voice, tone, and sentence structure. To explain how I learned to reach younger readers than myself, I review the background and origin of the young adult category, the general requirements to reach those young readers, and survey four contemporary novels to understand how other authors successfully reach their young adult audiences. Because Throwaways is fantasy narrative in addition to a young adult novel, I explore several definitions of the fantasy category to explain how the novel works as a work of fantasy, particularly as a time fantasy and an intrusion fantasy, in which magic disturbs reality and the characters never become fully accustomed to the magic. I also explain why Throwaways needed to be a work of fantasy rather than a realistic tale, and I examine fantastic elements in four novels from which I drew inspiration. I discuss T.S. Eliot's notion of the "objective correlative" to give objects significance that becomes emotionally resonant, and I examine elements in Throwaways that utilize the objective correlative, including the protagonist's father's Medal of Honor, and the natural setting of the novel, including trees and fungi. I review scientific studies on trees, fungus, and lichen to explain how I crafted the thematic element of symbiosis in this novel. As a novel, Throwaways illustrates my execution of the techniques and strategies I examine in the essay. True to a young adult novel, Throwaways features a teenaged protagonist who must overcome the grief of her mother's death and learn to face the consequences of tumultuous, tragic events as well as her own actions. As a fantasy, the novel uses a time flux and elements that intrude on the protagonist's life in order to link human suffering to ecological suffering; through this linkage, the protagonist learns that by helping others endure and overcome their own struggles, she can overcome her own.