From Goodreads: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate...until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
I have a long list of writing lessons learned from this fabulous book, but I'll list my favorites:
- Give readers time to know the MC before "the change"--Too often I think we have to jump directly to the time where things change for our main characters. MATCHED begins with action, since we meet Cassia on the way to her Match banquet. We're given a chance to know her, and how she views her world. We get to know her best friend, Xander, and how he fits into her life. I was entertained from the start, and began liking each character right away. By the time of the inciting incident, I cared.
- Give characters a job that matters to the story--Cassia is an expert at sorting data and finding patterns. Her dad sorts through material at an old library. Her mom works at the Arboretum. I had a feeling that each of these vocations would play a part in the story, and the author didn't disappoint.
- Make the MC uncomfortable--Cassia is forced to not only sort data, but eventually sort people. This made Cassia, and me, the reader, totally uncomfortable. She knew her sort would impact the lives of real people, and the stakes were high. My stomach tightened during this entire scene...a sign that it was well-written and well-paced.
- If a rule-follower will later rebel, show early signs that it's possible--Cassia learned that she's not the first rule-follower in her family to show signs of rebellion. Her grandfather slipped her a forbidden poem. Her father broke the rules for people he loved. This showed us that Cassia had it in her, so when she took her turn breaking the rules, it made sense.
- Give the main characters a shared secret--Cassia and Ky, the boy who is not her Match, share secrets that connect them. Ky knows about Cassia's forbidden poem, and she catches him writing in script, which is also forbidden. They conspire to keep these secrets between them, and this small seed shows they have it in them to break the rules.
- Create sympathy for an antagonist--During one scene, Cassia's artifact, her most prized possession, is collected by an Official. The Official is the antagonist in this scene, but Cassia noticed the Official had a band of white skin where her ring had been. This Official had also lost something valuable, which made it difficult to hate her. We learn that Cassia's father is also an Official, and she knows her father is only doing his job when he enforces the rules. Quite a predicament.
- Use a poem or other written work to enforce a theme--Cassia's grandfather gave her a gift in the form of the Dylan Thomas poem, "Do not go gentle into that good night." Such a cool link to the past for a futuristic story. The words "do not go gentle" became part of the bigger theme of the story, and perfectly described Cassia's character arc from rule-follower to someone who did not go gentle.
Have you read MATCHED? Have you seen these writing tips in books you've read, or have you used them yourself? Any great tips you can share from your favorite book?