Write It Out

The Books

cover art for The Poet X

The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Genre: YA; novel in verse

Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: March 6, 2018

Number of Pages: 368

This novel in verse is narrated by Xiomara Batista, a teenage girl growing up in Harlem and trying to find her own identity. Between her parent’s beliefs, her twin brother’s secrets, and her own life, Xiomara has a lot going on. She pours all her thoughts and feelings in the form of poetry onto the pages of a leather notebook her brother gave her. When she’s invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara realizes there may be a space outside of her notebook where she can be heard.

cover art for a The Lady and the Highwayman

The Lady and the Highwayman (Dread Penny Society #1)

Author: Sarah M. Eden

Genre: Historical Fiction; Books About Books; Adventure; Secret Society; Proper Romance; Victorian Era

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Published: September 3, 2019

Number of Pages: 352

Fletcher Walker is a self-proclaimed overgrown street urchin. He makes his living as the king of the Penny Dreadful authors. Lately though, there seems to be a new king in town, Mr. King to be precise. No one, not even his publisher, knows the identity of the mysterious writer taking the Penny Dreadful market by storm. No one except, perhaps, Elizabeth Black. Miss Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school, a well-respected author of silver-fork novels, and apparently very good at keeping secrets. In an effort to discover King’s identity, Fletcher decides to make her acquaintance. The more Fletcher learns about Elizabeth, the more intrigued (and enamored) he becomes.

The Ties That Bind

In both books, at least one of the main characters takes his or her experiences, internalizes them, then translates those experiences into written works.

In The Poet X, Xiomara is constantly bombarded with the opinions of other people: her parents, her priest, her teachers, her neighbors, her best friend, sometimes even her twin brother. In contrast, she feels like she has no way to communicate her own thoughts and ideas to them. Instead, Xiomara pours all her frustrations and passion into a leather notebook, often in the form of poetry.

In The Lady and the Highwayman, both Fletcher and Elizabeth are published writers and serialized stories written by each of them are woven into the main novel. Many aspects of Fletcher’s and Elizabeth’s lives find their way onto the page including vocabulary, people, and social interactions. At one point, Elizabeth has an unsatisfactory conversation and immediately decides she’s going to write it into her current story.

A common piece of advice is to write what you know. Both these books endeavor to show this real-life process in a fictional setting without allowing the process itself to dominate the story.

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