Bird Boy Project: Discussion Forum 2 (and another great giveaway!)

By chapters 8-13, we’re well into the development part of the novel, which (you may recall) I mentioned is the often the most difficult part to write.  Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, and when an author begins a novel, she usually has the beginning part clearly in mind.  The ending may be cloudier, but I never start a novel without some idea where it’s going to end up.  How to get there is the problem.  You need to allow time to for readers to know the characters better by seeing how they respond to difficulties.  You also want the reader to like your characters more as time goes on—to become invested in what happens to them.  At the same time you need to move the story along, yet not so fast that we lose sight of plot turns and motivations, and not so slow that we lose interest altogether . . . You see the difficulties.

So, in the second quarter of our saga, our hero is thrown on his own resources when his mentor suddenly departs for unexplained reasons.  Roy Ray has two choices: slide back into his earlier fecklessness, or try to make something of what he’s learned.  It’s his first great test of character, and he passes.  Part Two also introduces an important secondary character in Delphi McEnroe.  Every hero needs an adversary, but he also needs allies, and with Mr. G out of the picture Delphi comes along at just the right time.  The third big development is getting Roy Ray away from home and into possible danger.  The foreboding is more than realized at the end of Chapter 13.

With the action is moving faster, I had fewer specific questions.  But I’d love to hear from you:

What was the biggest surprise?

What questions are you waiting to have answered?

What are you disappointed about (if anything)?

You won’t want to miss a chance at our big giveaway this week: Dragon’s Seed, a unique resource that combines dramatic narrative with biblical reflection–and addresses some of the same themes as Bird Boy.

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.


  1. Sam on September 15, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Overall Questions.

    1. What was the biggest surprise? Either the mystery bird or the details of the kidnapping. Also, I’m enjoying this book more than I anticipated. My compliments!

    2. What questions are you waiting to have answered? What’s up with that radio and the fading figure in the picture?

    3. What are you disappointed about (if anything)? Delphi’s greekness, at this stage, seems to play in too heavily with the Icarus thread. Apollo drags the sun across the sky, etc. It feels like it might be a setup for something I would feel was too heavy handed, but I’m not actually disappointed — just nervous.

    Ch 8.

    This does seem to pivot. Mr. G. seems to be running from something. He has time to leave a feather, but not time to directly talk with Roy Ray.

    Ch 9.

    Sounds and the radio – The whooshing sounds make me think of SSB modulated shortwave signals. That they speak in “gusts” and it was like “wind with a voice” makes me think of Mr. G’s comment, “Everyone has wings.” Both of these moments seem to break reality to show something else is hiding behind it. I’m very excited now for chapter 10.
    Ch 10.

    The paint factory – I’m drawing blank on the scene. I looked it up. The bobbing light. Mr. G is already there? Interesting.
    The bad guys – Because I know the author is Christian, and we have “Bill the Lizard,” a part of me wonders if this might be a good-and-evil motif. Clipping the wings of an angel, they fall to be serpents? No one has offered Roy Ray that he would be like God, so I don’t think that fits. They know of Mr. G and his radio. The previous abduction attempt makes me think Mr. G was part of it and abandoned it (changed his ways?) or timing is very critical.

    Ch 11.

    No questions.

    Ch 12.

    Are you getting a bad feeling, too? The name, “Icarus Life Insurance” was enough. I almost thought it was a joke to catch the dad’s attention. I was expecting the offer to be blunt.
    There’s a little more about the voices Roy Ray is hearing over the radio—do you have any further ideas about where they’re coming from? I strongly think my radio background is blinding me to the fantasy. Other sci-fi setups would have Mr. G sucked into a prison or into the radio where he would have the time to constantly call out to Roy Ray. His voice makes me think he isn’t in deep hiding.

    Ch 13.

    but could you predict any details? Enough to make these developments seem “predictable”? The fact that the people involved in the rehearsal were called “cheap” in the previous chapter made it easier to play-off the warning signs as just my “reader’s suspicion.” The fact that the over cloat was reminiscent, but not the means to constrain Roy Ray’s wings was a nice touch. Lots of double-feints which I especially enjoy.

    • Sam on September 15, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      The formatting on this was lost. It was a originally a Google Doc. You can read it here, if that’s more helpful:

    • Janie on September 19, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Many thanks, Sam! It’s especially helpful to me to hear how readers respond to hints and clues, because an author’s perspective is naturally going to be a lot different. That’s one reason for this “project.” You can be sure I’ll print out your comments and ponder them carefully in the rewrite.

  2. Andrea on September 18, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    We are sucked in to the mystery!! Our biggest questions revolve around Mr. G’s past and disappearance.
    We are learning patience as we can’t continue with just-one-more chapter and have to wait for the next installment to answer (or raise more) questions.

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