Last week, author Kyle Lukoff spoke to middle school students via Zoom about his 2021 novel, “Too Bright to See.” Using the book as a reference point, Lukoff discussed some of the many important aspects of novel writing, such as world building.
“You have to make a lot of decisions about the world your characters live in and the kinds of rules … that your characters have to follow,” he said. As an exercise, he asked to students to think about the kinds of rules for a story that takes place underwater, such as how to move about the world and how to breathe.
“Too Bright to See,” which is a ghost story, also has rules that its ghost must follow. The main character and the reader, Lukoff explained, are left to interpret what the novel’s ghost is trying to communicate by interacting with objects, since it cannot speak. If the ghost was able to explain itself clearly, “the story would be one chapter long and I wouldn’t have won any of these cool awards.”
Lukoff also stressed the importance of research, referencing his own experience writing “Too Bright to See,” which takes place in rural Vermont, a place he had never lived. “I was very worried about getting details wrong,” he said. “So far that hasn’t happened.”
Toward the end of the talk, Lukoff briefly talked about his next novel, which he said will be another middle-grade work that is “a little bit more advanced.” Like “Too Bright to See,” the main character will again be a transgender boy, drawing on Lukoff’s own existence as a transgender man. He also plans to include his experience as a Jewish person, incorporating Jewish folklore and history.