Friday, March 29, 2013

Dystopian Story Decision

So I’ve finally reached a decision when it comes to my dystopian story.  I know, I know, I’ve been deliberating over this story a lot recently on this blog, but that’s because I’ve been agonizing over a big decision—whether to keep it middle-grade or change it to young adult because of some of the story’s subject matter.

And my decision is (drum roll)....................................I’m keeping it MG.  At least for the time being.

I’ve discussed it with a couple critique partners, and we’ve reached the conclusion that if I remove the sex aspect, the story should stand okay as middle-grade, since there isn’t anything else about the story that would mark it as more appropriate for YA.  What also helped us (or me) arrive at this decision is that I’m simply more comfortable writing MG.  It comes more naturally versus writing YA, and since I already have a draft of the story written in MG-style, why change it to YA if I don’t really have to?  There are other reasons for keeping it MG, but these are the biggest.  That being said, if an agent or editor told me it’d be better as YA, then I’d definitely consider it and would probably make the change.  But as for now, I’m sticking to my guns with MG.
This all brings me to the fact I have plenty of revisions to dig into for this story, so I can finally take a sigh of relief on this YA vs. MG business (ah, the fun lulls in writing…definitely something I’d rather do without) and get busy.  Among other things, I plan on first removing the sex aspect of the story, then I’ll beef up some character motivations, and then I’ll incorporate more of the overall world of the story (since the story currently focuses more on the trees than the forest, if you know what I mean) into the, well, story.  Hmmmm…maybe I’ll do a blog post on that last one at some point…

Friday, March 22, 2013

Brainstorming Issues for my Dystopian Story

So I know I recently blogged about considering changing my dystopian novel from middle-grade to young adult because of the sexual content in the story, but now I’m leaning toward keeping it MG.  That being said, I’m having IMMENSE difficulty trying to figure this whole dilemma out.

There are a couple perks in keeping this story MG.  For one, that’s the current form it’s in now.  Changing it to YA would probably be very difficult for me.  I mean, if I absolutely have to, I’ll do it, of course.  It’s not like I’m afraid of a challenge, and I have to do what’s ultimately right for the story, of course, but a part of me is thinking that I have a lot of good things already in place here, and—at the moment, at least—I’m definitely more comfortable writing from an MG perspective/voice versus YA.
But if I stick with MG, that definitely means removing the “forced sex” aspect of my dystopian, since that’s too strong for MG.  And that’s fine.  I’ve been playing around with the idea of incorporating In Vitro Fertilization into the plot instead, and I think it could work.  That being said, I’m wondering about one major potential issue.
1.      Even though the forced sex aspect is gone, the story still deals with mating and bearing children, which might be a more reasonable subject for YA, but is it enough to make changing this story to YA essential???

That’s really the one major question that’s been eating away at my brain for the past couple weeks.  It’s a toughie, all right.  Anything else in this story that needs to be softened for MG, I’m pretty sure I can do it—at least with minimal difficulty (and I’m not sure there really is anything that does need to be softened, anyway).  But I’m really not sure about this one question, and it’s quite crucial to this story to keep the whole mating aspect in there.  If anybody has any ideas or opinions on this, please let me know!!!

*Sigh* It’s amazing how annoying these little brainstorming conundrums can be.  More than anything I want to be able to MOVE FORWARD with this story, which I’m hesitant to do at the moment in light of this dilemma, so hopefully I’ll figure this one out soon.
Writing—and life in general—is so much easier when you know exactly which step you should take next.

Alas, life isn’t always that way, though…

Friday, March 15, 2013

World-building Tip: Plight of a Stuck-in Detail

I've been playing around with the world-building details in my dystopian story, and have made a less-than-exhilarating discovery: sometimes the details feel like they’re a bit of an infodump, or shoved in there purely for the reader’s benefit.  And it’s true that they at least help the reader picture this world I’ve built, help flesh it out in their mind.  Definitely a good thing.  But the problem is some of those details feel stuck in there in the sense that they appear unnatural and out of place.  Like my Uncle Renaldo in a Where’s Waldo? book (OK, I don’t really have an Uncle Renaldo).  So…how does one fix that?  Well, here’s at least one solution: Make the world-building detail feel like it’s part of the main character’s natural thoughts in that moment of the story.       

Here’s an example from the second page of an earlier version of my dystopian story: “I went into my faction, a big suburban house at the end of a cul-de-sac where ten boys, including me, lived.” 

Well, that’s not very good, is it?  I mean, even though the reader doesn’t know what a faction is, my main character does, since he lives in this society, so the fact he sticks in a flat-out mini-explanation of it (“a big suburban house at the end of a cul-de-sac where ten boys, including me, lived”) feels pretty damned contrived, doesn’t it?

I’ll answer that for you: Oh hell yes (note how I left out the comma after the “oh” in order to imply that this is a fast, automatic response; crafty, huh?). 

Now here’s that same sentence, revised: “My faction house loomed in front of me at the end of the cul-de-sac.  The big suburban residence with its chipped white paint always gave me a warm, homey feeling, even though I only had one real friend in there.” 

Well, it might not be perfect, but it’s certainly an improvement.  The reason is because it feels more natural.  And why is that, class?  Because it’s more in the narrator’s voice.  The details of what a faction house is have been relocated so they flow in his thoughts.  Plus, I’ve added in the way he feels about the faction, which makes those details seem even more natural and prevalent to this moment in the story. 

Thank you for your rapt attention, class (*bows*).

Friday, March 8, 2013

MG to YA

So after receiving some feedback from crit partners, I'm considering making my MG dystopian book, The Adult Plague, a YA novel. The main reason is because some of the content (sexual content) is more appropriate for a YA audience. The society in my story forces kids to procreate, and that can come across as kind of icky/inappropriate for an MG audience versus YA.

Of course, making this change will come with its own set of challenges. I will probably have to beef up the plot (which will also help make the book longer, since it's only around 50,000 words long, which would suffice for MG, but would probably be better upward around 70,000 for YA). I will also have to add more/deepen the emotional content. I will also have to tinker with the prose to make it more suitable for YA, which is something that will probably be particularly difficult for me. I read YA all the time, but writing one—that’s a whole other story. I'm more versed in MG now, since my thesis for my MFA program had been an MG novel, but I think YA will prove to be a bit difficult.

My other option is to stick to MG, but soften the procreation aspect. I think it's possible, but I'd have to think on that one for a bit, so we'll see. At the moment I'm leaning toward shifting the story to YA, but I'm definitely going to have to give this whole thing some serious thought. Wish me luck!