February 27, 2015

Adventures in Genre-Hopping: Getting the Story Down

So, I had a premise. I had a character. I had an opening. Now it was just time to sit down and write the darn thing. Right?

My first time travel novel. It was supposed to be great. I was going to write the best dad-gum YA time travel book ever written. I'd done the research. I'd thought long and hard. I had everything. This was it.

I sat down to write. And I typed. The words came slowly at first, then faster. I build a few new settings, I had new characters walk onto the page. My character learned the ins and outs of being a time traveler working for The Agency. (Clever name, right? I was just trying to get the words down. "Names can be changed" was my mantra.)

And as Kass (my main character) learned how time travel worked in this world, I learned how time travel worked. I had to invent a lot of it as I wrote. I didn't want to slow down and figure out every little detail before writing the first chapter. People have died of old age doing it that way.

So I got 50,000 words of this story written. There were some unexpected developments. There was a nice, fat plot twist I hadn't seen coming. There was some witty banter.

But the book was destined for the recycle bin.

The plot was cliche. The plot was slow.

The character was flat. A puppet, doing what I needed her to do because I needed to figure things out.

I looked back at what I'd written. The majority of a mediocre (at best) story.

You know what would be better? If Kass broke that rule, without understanding it, and then had to suffer the consequences. That's much more interesting than getting lectured on every possible thing that could go wrong, and then being afraid of breaking said rule.

Also, I should probably try to figure out this character who keeps popping up. His motivations are confusing to me because all he does is taunt my main character. WHY is he doing this?!

And... the whole having-to-do-schoolwork thing? It's really cramping my style. If I made her six months older, she could go to college. Maybe I should treat her like an adult.

Can I do that? Wouldn't it not be YA anymore?

These thoughts, and more, are what brought me to the conclusion that I need to rethink this book. I've played around with the world and met a ton of characters. But now, it's time to get serious. I need to KNOW this world, its laws, and its characters. And I need a main character who makes mistakes.

Let's try this again.
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