Friday, March 23, 2012
Devil in the Details
Today I find myself in a peculiar ...at least for me... situation in my writing.
Most of my earlier books have been Nature based and in a Non fiction format. They have been written for Young Readers or they are Picture Books that weave tales of the Natural World into bedtime reading. My 2 fiction tales for YRs definitely have protagonists, but the character development was limited for the story and age of the reader.
Now, creating 4 major characters in a MR/YA genre is proving to be quite a challenge. Kids today are sophisticated readers and expect no less in their reading material than I would myself. If a writer develops a novel then that novel had better BE developed!
OK. Let's start at the beginning. How many main characters? I'm doing 3...two girls and a boy. Why are they friends? What do they look like? Are they good students? Sports? Are they popular or outcasts. There are a million and one details to think of and keep track of.
Okay...next. I do believe they'll be just starting Middle School, so parents must be involved. Are they central to the story or just on the fringes? What about teachers? Is their a favorite or a pain in the butt type? How about the bad guys? They say every good story must have conflict that must come to some sort of resolution. Do we stick to the real problems that affect teens or do we walk down another type of path. ..the path to an alternate reality? No vampires or werewolves allowed! Perhaps some other type of entity. But what hasn't been done before? Besides the ubiquitous vamps and weres there are wizards, witches, elves, fairies, dwarves, orcs, dragons and all manner of ghouls and goblins. How does one do it up differently?
Now we come to location. City? Burbs? School? Each person and place must be fleshed out and God forbid there should be a conflicting detail! Oops! Lucy's father is a teacher. It's Tyler's father that runs the restaurant.
I start out with 3x5 cards for each major character but soon the cards are not big enough as each "person" develops...a person with loves and fears and must stay true to the character traits. the cards turn into pages with headings....I hope I can keep them all straight.
Well...as you can see...keeping track of all this is quite daunting and we haven't even touched on the most important detail of all... the story! Is it a romance? A mystery? An urban warfare situation? Does the writer write about what he or she likes to read or follow the latest trends of this years crop of popular themes?
Will this imaginary seed grow to be nutritious or beautiful or just another weed in the vast field of KidLit?
Hopefully I will take myself and the project seriously and perhaps turn out something worth reading.