Let’s talk about fiction that has characters that must learn and grow. I find myself reading stories that are similar. Some of my favorite books I read again and again. I’ve been trying to devise a method of categorizing these books. I want to find tags or benchmarks that can allow me to pick up a story and determine whether I am likely to enjoy it, or not.
The stories that push my buttons are ones where the characters start the story without the knowledge and/or skills needed to complete the quest, task, mission, or survival activity. Often a character gets dropped into a situation that requires growth, learning, and the willingness to explore new options. For example in Controlled Descent by K. M. Herkes, Alison and the other characters must learn and grow as they face deadly challenges in the future world they are navigating. I am nerdy, in my reading, and like new information and seeing how people learn new things.
In Tesla’s Signal by L. Woodswalker, the titular character must use the existing science of the steampunk era technology to develop new tools to confront the aliens. When characters start a story without the tools and skills they need, they are required to find or build the means they need to accomplish their goals. It helps if the characters are plucky and can rise to the occasion.
I’m interested in building a better world, so stories where the characters struggle to bring peaceful resolution to conflicts get extra marks during my reading. Sarah K.L. Wilson in The Ex-Pacifist tells of a character that has been raised to avoid all violence. Conditions change for the character, and she doesn’t remain the same, but her goals must still be attained. Stories excite me when people are forced to rise to meet staggering new challenges.
P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer thrusts Miri into circumstances that she can’t understand, and gives her talents she must learn to use. Stories work, for me, when new skills are thrown into the mix and new information is shared. Characters become who they must by attaining higher levels of skill, experience, and knowledge.
I am calling this category of stories Attainment Fiction. These stories usually have true information that can be used in the real world. The stories have characters who cannot fulfill their assignments with the information and skills they have at the beginning. We live on a planet filled wondrous, amazing and interesting things, everywhere around us. I want to witness some of this wonder in the fiction I indulge in. For example, my story Asante’s Gullah Journey tells about an alternate future where people must raise crops, run their society and keep the peace without the benefits of much of modern technology that we take for granted.
I am beginning a database of stories of Attainment Fiction at: http://bookae.org/attainfiction/
Check it out, and the stories mentioned above and see if maybe you like Attainment Fiction also.