2 Writing Skills You Can Learn From “The Hunger Games”
Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Originally Published February 29, 2012
About a month or so ago, I finally read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I know. I’m a little slow on getting to this best seller. But when I initially heard what it was about, I thought it was too gruesome. I didn’t want to validate the topic by reading about it. But the fervor over the book, and the ravings of my trusted friend finally got to me. So I bought it for my new Kindle. It started off a little out of my
realm of interest…but soon I discovered the main character felt as I did about the topic of violence, and I couldn’t put it down. I put it on the kindle app on my phone…and then I was reading it every spare moment I could find, including while cycling at the gym.
And once I finished book one, of course I wanted book two. But I waited, because I was trying to edit one of MY books too. In a moment of pause, with fingers still on my keyboard, I found myself thinking about the wide variety of things that could happen in the sequel to The Hunger Games. Then I realized I had quite a lot for my imagination to play with. How did the author do that? How did the Suzanne Collins feed me so many possibilities and give me such a rich playground for my imagination to roam around in between reading books one and two?
I thought back through book one. (I’ll try not to give too much away in the following lines if you haven’t read it already.) I realized Collins had Katniss (the main character) think about the future and what was to come. Katniss thinks about a number of places where it turns out she could be in the future. She thinks about a number of issues that could end up in her lap. But many of them are told as mere information, not something she might specifically have to deal with. As the book ends, it becomes clearer how they could apply to her. The ground is very well laid. By the end of book one, it is clear there are a number of issues that could arise in three areas: relationships, the government, and her community. And this leaves me with questions. Lots of them. I know the issues not only because of situations the character lived through, but the thoughts she had about each of them, the things she wondered about and taught me about her world.
Collins very successfully planted part of Katniss’s future-related wonderings and thoughts into my own mind. And what fun my imagination had trying to figure out what might happen! I hope I’ve learned something from The Hunger Games…besides how helpful it might be to learn to hunt.
Two takeaways for aspiring writers:
Make your characters think, talk and/or wonder about things related to the future story line. Include hints and possible scenarios or problems they could encounter and try not to be obvious about it.
Create a context for the future. Then leave your reader hanging with LOTS of unanswered questions about how that context will be filled with the journey of the character.
Ahhh! Writing is so much fun!