Sunday, November 1, 2015

Why Do We Care About Roger?

Roger Pierce is odd. For one thing, he has learned to adapt to a new school every year. Part of his adaptation is knowing that next year, he will be in a different school, so he only has to endure a single year in any one school.

For another, he has an attitude. It comes from knowing more than his new schoolmates in each new location, and a little from often knowing more about some things than his teachers. He was reading high-school novels in third grade, and now that he's going to be a freshman in high school, he isn't sure he can take another year of throttling back his joy of reading to match the speed of his classmates.

In the opening paragraphs of the story, we get hints about Roger. What about the name of the high-school mascots in his new town, the Jaguars, raises his fear of "another" catastrophe? Why his scorn at the shops in downtown Meteor (especially the bookstore)? What makes him so sure he will be relegated to the attic and why his delight at a ground-floor bedroom?

Even the smallest details can assist this invitation to share Roger's anxious advent into the tiny desert town of Meteor. 

I want to feed enough of the "stranger child" vibe into the opening chapter that I won't need a prologue to hook the reader. Whether we care about Roger because he's so weird, or we care because we have each been that new kid in school, will depend on how I write him.