Saturday, May 11, 2013

About Work Four

Or, you could say, the reincarnation of Work Two, which I mentioned here . I recently read a very moving memoir-type novel, in which the author had managed to blend in a near-supernatural fantasy element (think: psychic child) and she managed to do so without awkwardly forcing a huge suspension of disbelief. It was also written in first-person, renewing my hope that I could also successfully make a story work in first person.

I started planning Work Four last week (now tentatively titled Pass Girl), and this recent memoir-type book prompted a few ideas. I also happened to look at the Young Adults section this week (and it's depressing). More than 90% of them are supernatural novels, most of which are vampires, followed by zombies, shape-shifters and werewolf-type creatures. It saddens me a great deal, for even though it's wonderful to see teenagers reading at all, and it's fine that they lose themselves in fantasy, it feels as if authors just aren't trying all that hard. Take a formula, plug in the character names, churn out a book. The massive swamping of the market since Twilight is Just.Not.Funny!

Even The Hunger Games is fantasy, to a certain extent, but they did it by NOT touching the central character herself. Instead, the fantasy is in the setting, and in the surroundings. She is an ordinary, contemporary, imperfect teenager, unsure in her interactions with boys, and she finds herself a pawn in someone else's game.

In a roundabout way that is where Pass Girl happens to be going. I only realised the Hunger Games connection later. Since Pass Girl involves a virus, I pondered a future setting myself, but I'm not sure I want that level of unfamiliarity in the work - it creates other problems, like having to invent tons of future stuffs, which I personally find distracting in a book. Think of Back To The Future, where the sight of Hoverboards means we are continually reminded that this thing ain't real - not necessarily awful, but I prefer my readers just to lose themselves without having to be conscious of the utter unreality of it all. It should be believable. And so instead of the future, it will be a parallel universe, an everyday YourTown, but the consequences of the virus mean laws which render teenagers powerless and at the mercy of adults. It is the protagonist's rejection of this arrangement which I want to portray, a stake of claim on her own life and future. It is probably, unintentionally, influenced by Stephen King's The Stand, although I will not be detailing any kind of medical, horror or barfworthy things anywhere.

I began to outline the book, and after a while, I realised what I had. I had a purpose for Work Two (with some re-writing). Work Two is right now nothing but a journey, and although I had used "downtrodden abused girl escaping" as the reason for her journey, I can remove that and replace it with "rebellion escape", which works better and is less clichéd, I think. And it gives me scope for an actual ending - kinda important ;)

I didn't set out to write YA fiction - I was in the YA section because I had no interest in reading what's on offer in the Adult section. But I think YA sits well with me. I'm not opposed to Adult Fiction per se, but when I thought over the elements that would be in my story, I don't actually want to limit the audience by detailing, erm, certain sexay details because they simply don't add to the story. Let's just call it Fiction in general, because I hope it has broad appeal despite the main character being 16.