Thursday, April 28, 2011

X marks the spot

(I'm not going near my Google reader to see how many other bloggers use this title. I'm sure it will be many.)

I'm a sucker for a good treasure hunt.

Naturally, pirates come to mind when you think of treasures. But it doesn't have to be a locked chest with untold riches. The prize at the end can be something else. A book. A letter. A vaccine. A power to harm or a power to heal. One ring to rule them all. The possibilities are endless.

I imagine a good scavenger hunt complete with clues and riddles works well in MG books. Though a semi-known author by the name of Dan Brown catapulted mystique and treasure into a story surrounding religion and art and that was certainly NOT an MG book.

I think of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, Muppets Treasure Island, Indiana Jones (but not the new one), The Pirates of the Caribbean, and so far, The 39 Clues series that I'm reading. (Side note: are there really going to be 39 books? That seems a bit much.) In these stories, the good guys are feverishly working to solve the next clue before the bad guys, who are naturally right behind them, hot on the same trail.

Treasure stories are like an artichoke. You have to carefully peel away the outside layers to work further inside. And there's no shortcut to the inside. You have to start out and work your way in. Challenges and obstacles litter your path and you constantly wonder, "What if this isn't the right way?" You search for clues and meaning in everything you hear or see. What is important? Or worse, are any of those so-called clues really red herrings?

I love reading books with good riddles and mysteries so naturally, I thought it would be great fun to write one. Yikes. Have you ever tried to sit down and compose a riddle for your story? It was harder than I thought. I had to "age" my riddle so it used words that sounded older, which was another layer of complexity.

But the biggest payoff? No one in my crit group solved it until the preemptive reveal in my book. Awesome.

Have you read any adventure books with maps, clues, word problems, etc? Please share!


  1. *raises hand* Totally used that title, too, but for something completely different. If you're a sucker for treasure hunts, make sure you stop by the blog. ;)

    I can't remember a good mystery book I read recently, but I'm a sucked for riddles and treasure hunts, too. There's a reason I devoured all of Hercule Poirot's novels when I was younger. ^^

  2. oh man, i used to LOVE choose your own adventure books! Though i always cheated and folded my pages, so i didn't have to re-read from the beginning


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