Three days in a row of being home sick, gives one a lot of time to think, and not necessarily in a productive way. Last week I rewrote a story for my fiction writing class, and even though it’s not the best it could be yet, I’m even started to wonder if this could be a start of a larger work. The characters and situations from this 14 page story perhaps I could make it as long as a novel, or a those trilogies that are so popular. The story involves skateboarding, something I always come back to, and a topic that is ripe for someone to write something great. A lot of young adult books with skateboarding in it are written by professional writers trying to cash in, and come off as fake, so the goal is to write something true and genuine.
For fun in this blog entry I’m going to put in bullet point format the necessities in themes and plot for the Great American Skateboard Novel, that hasn’t been written yet.
— Coming of age story
Yes, people (like me) in their thirties and older skateboard. But they all have busy lives with careers, families, and other interests. Unless they are ageing pros they do not fantasize about sponsorship, and in a way skating is no different for them then the guy that plays golf or tennis every weekend. One could write a novel with a character that is an older skateboarder, but the major theme would have to be something else, perhaps a midlife crises. Also all of these older skaters remember fondly their childhood of skating.
Most skaters remember a time when most of what they cared about was skating. Everyday after school, and all day in those summers they would practice, and get better. At a certain point one gets decent or good. For me I was awkward until about age 15, but then those two years from age 15 to 17 were super fun, and I felt invincible in some ways. I think that youthful abandon where it is a little out of control but the skating is progressing at the same time is where they Great American Skate story should focus on.
This time is different for skaters than say people in other sports. Skaters in a city or even towns will go to where the skating is, and will meet people from different schools, or out of school, and people older than them. Their network is simply not the school they go to, but the larger skating community in their area. So they get a variety of situations and experiences simply by roaming place to place to skate. Every teenage skater has been kicked out of a spots, and had other altercations of some kind. With progressing at skating or being good at it can create overconfidence in skaters that can lead to interesting scenes.
–Gritty perhaps unlikable characters will need redeeming values.
If you ever go to a skate park anywhere in the world, even to the year 2012, you will hear the two most used derogatory words repeated over and over. Sometimes kids will spit for the sake of spitting. As an adult in my thirties I don’t say derogatory words or even use much profanity. In my opinion it is grating at first to listen to these kids talk tough. I always try to tell myself they are imitating rap or movie lyrics and not sprouting hate. Most of the time I just ignore it, but you’ll hear a kid talk vile, and then two minutes later cheer for someone that landed a trick that he worked on all day. The trick wasn’t even that good but they still clapped and encouraged him. When I was a teenager Nas and Wu-Tang were huge so I’m sure my friends talked the same way. I guess I justify it that they are imitating rap and popular culture, and they are not in school or at a job. If you go to the same park for a little bit you will see good qualities in the kids with the gutter mouths. I guess why I’m saying all of this is that the characters in a coming of age skateboard novel won’t talk pretty. Probably in Hollywood one successful portrayal of skaters was ‘Kids’ in 1995, I don’t think it’s necessary to have them beat up someone with their boards or were they all get AIDS like in that movie, but any skate story can’t be PG.
— Hero must make life decisions and choices.
Skater subculture has been so engrained with stoner culture for such a long time, that any story would need to include the hero’s decisions on vice. In the past five years I’ve noticed a trend of people brown bagging beers while skating at parks. They is a bad boy or a rebellion to skating, that is stamped enough that in any serious portrayal in a novel would need to include it. This coincides well with coming of age themes. Like maybe the first time he has a beer he flirts with a girl on the same day. There are a lot of variations that an author could do with this.
Even though skateboarding is an acceptable as any thing else kids can do now the conflict has to be society or some force in the character’s life pointing out that he is different. Perhaps a family member tells him he is wasting his life or time, and should move onto other things. The novel should have at least one scene of getting kicked out of a spot, getting in a fight with some random person, and other things to display his angst against the world.
–Girlfriends or relationships
Unnecessary to the skateboard story but a love interest probably would help the cause to getting the thing published.
Lastly, watch Lords of Dog Town at least four times before starting to write.
4 thoughts on “Themes that must be included in the great american skateboard novel”
“Gleaming the Cube” would be the perfect title haha. Too bad it’s already taken. A title with some reference to skateboarding terminology or slang (the more obscure the better) with some kind of symbolic resonance with the non-skateboarding themes would do.
Thanks Ryan, I look forward to checking out your blog soon.
Sounds as if you’ve got an outline in your head already. Don’t make the mistake I did (not telling enough about why your character does what she/he does) and then having to backtrack and insert chapters before getting to the “good stuff” in order for it to make sense! Love the coming-of-age thing and making your characters “gritty.” Everyone loves a protagonist with lots of flaws. Think the mid-life crisis thing will work great as well. Good luck and look forward to reading more as you begin your novel journey. :).
I think I’ll do some planning out first, and maybe some research as well. I’d like to work on some of my short stories from the Gotham classes to send out to, before I write much else. And spring and summer is coming on so I’ll want to skatemore. Shoot, I guess this novel attempt will be a winter project for me. Decisions!!