Moving a Story Up
In the fall of 2009, I sat down and wrote the first six or seven thousand words of a story I'll call SATG. I sent some of it to a Writer Friend and she liked it, said I should pursue it. I wrote more. I took it to a writing group I used to belong to. They liked it a lot. Wanted more conflict, but enjoyed the voice and thought it felt real and believable. I hadn't finished a story since 2006, and wouldn't again until 2012. And the stories I wrote last spring were not SATG. I haven't finished a story since June 2012. I am sitting on four manuscripts, all halted between 27,000 and 35,000 words.
Like I've said before, I've had a shitty February. SATG seems to be the story my brain goes to when I'm having a shitty month/week/day. I don't always do a lot. Sometimes I just delete a few words, write a hundred more, then save it and tuck it away again. If you search the title on my computer, I have more than thirty documents and versions of it. I'm not even sure which ones are the most relevant.
I like the story. I enjoy the characters. But it never quite felt right.
I'm not saying I figured out where I went wrong. But at least I have a new starting point.
I moved my characters up from 17 years old to the female MC being 21 and the male MC being 26 (but let's be honest, emotionally, he's still 18. Maybe 19.). I changed the setting to a city I understand (and love, dearly). I twisted it a bit, played up that age difference, made my female MC a little more sympathetic, my male MC a little more brazen.
I stole banter and sensations and memories from my own life. I'm sure that will be something I hit heavily in revisions, if I get to that point, but I pillaged my life, and I've found the story stronger for it.
In short, I'm 22,000 words into writing my first adult contemp fiction. If I finish it and query it, I think I'd market it as an New Adult book, but it is absolutely certainly not a YA book.
That's a strange thing to think about as I've always defined myself by YA fiction. But then, I haven't finished this story yet. I've set a goal for finishing it. If that date comes and goes and I haven't finished it, I promised myself to tuck it away again. I tend to write my books in big spurts of inspiration. I've never been able to claw one out of my brain and it mostly ends with me in tears if I try. Besides, this spring, I'm pulling out all four books that I wrote last spring and heavily editing them. SOMETHING is getting queried this year if I have to beat these stories into submission.
So, other than reading (a lot), this is what I've been doing writing wise. I've moved a story up, and found a lot more inspiration, a lot more conflict, a lot tighter prose, and a lot more character growth.
Interestingly, for my YA friends, the sex scene from the YA Draft of this story got cut in the transition. Get older = no sexytimes for you! (Just kidding. It's coming, just later, and not like that, because they're no longer high schoolers with all of the barriers that come to having sex when MC was a a highschooler with an overbearing parent).