Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Too Big for My Britches

It was about when I hit chapter 14 when I realized this book was rapidly spinning itself into a Moby Dick. This is my personal term for when a story I thought would simply reach an end within a couple hundred pages was inflating itself up to be thick enough to clobber a burglar with, aka 1000 pages chasing a white whale. This has happened to me before with past attempts of writing a book where I’m a good hundred or so pages in and realize I have created a monster of a plot that will not end quietly. This is also why I have never been a successful short story writer.

I begin with one idea and weave it into a vast tapestry, create a whole world around it, populate with characters I want to keep writing about. I have tons and tons of ideas, but I also have a hard time completing pieces because I reach a sticking point. How long is too long, when is a natural cut off point for a first book in a series or trilogy. What if you have enough material for more than one book but not enough for three. Do you just squander paper with filler? What is considered filler? Has the text been exciting enough to keep the reader wanting more, or not enough action up this point? These are the sort of questions that send me screeching to a halt. Even now, I can feel there is enough material set up to do more than one book in the universe of the Blue Zone, now it’s a matter of finding a natural conclusion for this first book. There are goals to meet with this one: Leaving enough mystery to string the reader along but answering enough questions to keep them involved. Creating a solid ending, not just a cheap cliff hanger. Most important to me is transitioning my main character from one stage of growth to another. In this book she is essentially a child, she is ignorant of her role in this world, she is protected, sheltered, and mentally unprepared for what she is facing but the ground work is there for the strong woman she will become.

Coming of age is a relative term in YA fiction, it can either be a physical transition or a mental one. With the Blue Zone I am aiming for the latter, Mina will probably not age so much in the course of the story, but mentally she will begin the journey into adulthood.

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