Monday, January 14, 2013

The Writing Roller Coaster

I have often compared writing and my imagination to a roller coaster. There's up and downs; slow spots and fast ones; loops and corkscrews that make it extra exciting. However, recently, I feel like the roller coaster is broken down, and I'm at a complete stop. I mean, I've started plenty of interesting stories recently but none of them have  been clicking for me. They all have things I love about them. They all present interesting, not impossible, challenges. But they all have something wrong or missing and I can't quite figure it out. I've tried to just chug along but I just haven't felt good about it. To be honest, in the last month or so I've even considered just walking away from writing. Of just unbuckling the safety belts and jumping off the proverbial ride.

But, of course, my crazy imagination got the better of me a few nights ago. A new idea. An insane idea. An idea that is now hurling me down the track, upside down and backwards. A story that currently involves THREE things I never thought I would do in my writing:

1. Young Adult

I guess it really depends on your definition of YA. Some people lump YA and Teen Fiction into the same group. But to me, YA is for readers between 8 and 13-14-ish. Also, I think boys tend to stay in the genre longer than girls. I'm not saying they're in some way more immature. I just think girls are more ready to 'grow-up' and move into Teen Fiction which, I think, tends to be a little bit more contemporary and often has a romantic element to it.

But, honestly, I don't really know the differences or even if there is one. Because I sort of skipped over these genres. I pretty much went from reading Junnie B. Jones and The Magic Treehouse to historical, nine volumed, fiction in seventh grade. And then moved into contemporary--often romance or suspense--fiction generally written for older audiences.

That's why I never really thought I would write YA. Because I never really read it. I mean, here and there, I have. Like The Pendragon series by DJ MacHale or The Emerald Atlas by John Stephans. But I'm no expert in that field.

2. Fantasy

I'm definitely not talking like Tolkien or Brandon Sanderson styled epic fantasy here. I can't even read that stuff let alone write it. (Not because its bad, or anything. I just don't have the attention span for it.) I'm talking, well, YA Fantasy. Which is silly because I think I may have read one, three book series, that would be truly considered this. Plus The Emerald Atlas. And, well, other than Harry Potter. For some reason I don't really think of that as fantasy. I guess I'm still hoping for that Hogwarts letter.

Don't get me wrong, I love fantasy. I just tend to enjoy it more on a screen than on pages. (Probably because I have no attention span.) Like Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings or the BBC TV show Merlin. Which are probably the two biggest reasons I now want to try my hand at fantasy.

I also never thought I'd write fantasy for the same reason I've struggled with my few attempts at science fiction. The whole creating your own world, thing. I mean, in theory fantasy--and, to some extent, sci-fi--has no rules. You can do whatever you want. Only, most people have this idea about fantasy and when you stray too far it can ruin the experience for the reader. So there are boundaries. But at the same time, you want to stretch the boundaries because you want to be a little different; create your own twist on the fantasy world. Its just hard to know what can and can't be done. And, maybe I'm wrong here too. I mean, I'm not a huge fantasy guru.


3. Love Triangle

Okay, so maybe 'love' triangle is too strong of a word for this story. I mean, it is YA. But I have sworn for years now that I would never do it. I hate them. I especially hate them when one guy is obviously better than the somewhat tool-ish guy. But the girl is still conflicted! (*cough*Hallmark*cough*) They also seem to be running rampant in teen fiction right now. Plus, at least in my opinion, the most well known and controversial love triangle right now is the Edward-Bella-Jacob thing. And I can't stand the thought of being compared to that. Ick.

Some of my friends may point out that I have done a love triangle already. But to them I say: "Emily never liked Snake in that way! So shut up!"

Its funny, though. Because that story, the one with the not-love-triangle, was the last novel I finished completely. And it was a story I never imagined getting more than 10,000 words into. Because its about teenagers--maybe even classified as Teen Fiction. Which I never thought I'd write. It surprised me at the time when I started it. Up until that point--at least since my first novel--I was writing about adults. Since finishing it, I've gone back to mostly writing about adults. But I've never finished one.

So, it makes me wonder. Maybe I've been writing about the wrong type of characters. Or maybe now that I am an adult, and I skipped over all that awesome YA and Teen Fiction stuff, I'm now more interested in it. Maybe its an identity crisis. I don't know. What I do know is, I'm super excited about this story. So excited that I want to print up the three pages I've written (not even the complete first chapter) and run around town, forcing people to read it! And then praise my amazing-ness

I think it also helped that I cornered my little brother, Eric, to bounce ideas off of. He's read a lot more YA fantasy than I have. Plus, he's a nerd and helped me with some magic stuff I'm sure he's learned mostly from video games. I liked that he was interested in it. Or at least acted like it--he never even pretended to be interested in my romance novels. And, when I started stressing about the whole fantasy-no-rules-but-boundaries thing, he gave me the best writing advice I think I've ever gotten:

Just have fun with it!

And I think, with this story, I really can.