Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On Learning New Stuff

I swear if anyone says, "How hard can it be to write a kid story?" I will not be responsible for the harm they incur. Writing Young Adult is an adventure! It's definitely different than what I've done before. And here's why:

My previous books ran about 125K words. This first book in the Demon Trappers Series (yet untitled) needs to be about 90K. So where's the problem, you ask? I didn't see any issues when I started writing the book. I've never had problems with coming up with enough words. I did know that I had to de-complex the story since I don't have enough real estate for complicated interlaced subplots and raft of secondary characters. But other than a short story and a non-fiction piece, I've never had to write to a specific word count before.

So my plan was: Stick to two or three main points of view. Riley (the teen heroine), Denver Beck (the twenty-two y/o Demon Trapper) and a third, yet to be revealed character. So this should be way easier, right?

Wrong. I'm now having to concentrate on the internal emotions, thoughts, etc. of my two/three main characters rather than a grand over arching plot. In other words, this story is more character driven than plot driven. I can write deep, internal thoughts/emotions, but not usually this much in one book. I know I'll meet that challenge, but it's stretching me in ways I'd not anticipated. Part of that is scary for an author, but it's also exhilarating. You can get too complacent. By shaking up the mix every now and then, you stretch yourself in new and fun ways.

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I've completed my first rough draft (74K) which you note is considerably shorter than the 90K I need. That's okay because I write tight and need to expand out scenes, put in new ones, etc. But with the book not having that arcane complexity, that's proving a bit harder than I planned.

So I've fallen back and regrouped as I start my second draft. The two main characters (Riley & Beck) are what the readers are going to care about (hopefully). How are Riley and Beck going to cope with her new life-changing situation? (avoiding spoilers here) How can I show more of this unique dystopian Atlanta I've created? And what about those demons? (grin).

As a wise friend of mine put it, "I have only three words for you, Grasshopper: subplot, subplot, subplot."

So the rock is slowly being pushed up the hill, one inch at a time. I really love the characters and the story is starting to cook. The rest will come. And at the same, I'm having an adventure!!!

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