'The last statue: Identifying trends in young adult fiction in order to support the writing of a young adult novel featuring a fictional language'
thesisposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Denise BecktonDenise Beckton
This thesis includes two interrelated components: a creative work and exegesis. The creative component has involved the writing of a historically informed fiction entitled ‘The last statue’ and, more specifically, the construction and inclusion of a fictional language as a component of the novella’s narrative. This fictional narrative explores the enigmatic history of Easter Island and its inhabitants during a particularly turbulent and complicated time of the island’s history (c. 1200–1800 AD), and focuses on themes of love, loss and war. Authors have few models on which to base a creation of fictional language should they wish to include one as a narrative component. Through the investigation of existing artefacts containing examples of the defunct pictorial language of Easter Island (called Rongorongo), and applying a fictional meaning to the glyph-based language encrypted within them, this thesis demonstrates how practice-led research techniques helped to facilitate the construction of an invented language to support the novella’s narrative. A significant finding in this area is that the use of a fictional language/s can enhance aspects of a narrative, such as voice, setting, character development and plot. It is hoped that information gleaned from this research will offer guidance to authors wishing to develop and implement a fictional language (in this case, a pictorial/symbolic language) as a component of a fictional narrative. Written to accompany ‘The last statue’, the exegetical dissertation investigates the process and challenges associated with writing a contemporary Young Adult fiction novel when genres, sub-genres and target readerships are rapidly evolving. In identifying the distinguishing influences, and influencers, of change affecting contemporary bestselling Young Adult fiction (since 2005), this exegesis records the practice-led research methodology and resulting outcomes that inform and underpin the themes, narrative construction and literary devices chosen to develop and produce the accompanying novella. By extending scholarship relating to contemporary international bestselling Young Adult fiction, in particular, this exegesis provides research on a topic that, in scholarly terms, has eluded significant inquiry in recent times. This will be useful for creators and consumers of, and commentators on, contemporary Young Adult fiction as it contextualises and addresses current issues facing writers in this genre. While this research supports recent findings that consider changes in Young Adult fiction to be positive developments, it also offers new scholarly knowledge that exposes the strategies and behaviours that predominantly adult groups and institutions are practising within the Young Adult fiction arena. These strategies are increasingly used to facilitate, hasten and heighten these changes. Additionally, this research asserts that market segmentation and franchise strategies that promote bestselling international fiction may be limiting the very potential that their popularity claims to offer.