Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In which I think out loud

"I gotta tell my story. It's the only way I can make things right." ~Jed, a character in my new WIP

Jed said these words to me yesterday--along with many others. He's the first character I've met in quite some time who's been very willing to divulge his story with little prompting from me. If I let him go on this way--telling me bits and pieces of his life--I can see the story forming. It's only when I start to second-guess him that the direction of the story becomes unclear.

I second-guessed Jed today.

Jed appears to me as an octogenarian with a need to tell about the things that have happened to him throughout his life, showing how the challenges he faced led him to his current situation. The story he tells encompasses not only his early life but also his later years with his own family--his wife and children--and highlights his regrets and the wisdom he hopes to impart to his grandchildren, in the hope that they won't make his mistakes.

Today, however, I started to wonder if the story would best be told with a focus only on Jed's youth, written as a young adult novel about how he coped with his mother's illness and how that illness affected him and shaped his character. I can see two possible challenges if I choose this scenario: first, I've never written young adult novels, and second, I've never written a male main character. Neither of these challenges is insurmountable, of course--there's a first time for everything, after all--but I admit that I'm a little nervous about this second scenario due mainly to my lack of knowledge of the young adult market. Reading current YA books would help, of course, and to this end, on Twitter today I asked for recommendations of good, well-written young adult novels with strong male main characters. I would appreciate your suggestions, too--just in case I choose to take this path.

I think in the end, I'm probably going to have to try writing both stories to see which one fits Jed best. No matter which focus I choose, this book will be a challenge for me both in its subject matter and in its form--but it's a challenge that I'm looking forward to.


  1. I feel remiss in typing this, but I'm drawing a blank on strong male main characters. It surely can't be because I haven't read them? If you're OK with horror, The Monstrumologist has an interesting if not stereotypically strong young man for its protagonist. And . . . and . . . I am really drawing a blank after that. Gah!

    YA really covers a huge spectrum of tone, subject, etc. I've seldom read a book that's similar to another, so--FWIW, I wouldn't advise sweating that point!

  2. It really sounds like you have a decision to make, but it must be terrific that he's talking to you :D Best of success with it! I'm sure you'll make it wonderful.

  3. Deb: Thanks for the recommendation and advice. :-)

    Carolyn: I appreciate the good wishes and encouragement! This will be a fun ride!