Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Category Archives: YA

Early Plot Questions: Does My Hero Have To Save The World?

I’m two and a half weeks into the Write-A-Thon and a week into Camp Nano. My goal for both was the same: 50,000 words on this new YA novel I’ve been thinking about called “Shifter High,” which title I like because it’s resonant but also I don’t quite like because it sounds like a mediocre Disney Channel show from the late 90s. But ANYWAY, it is under way, 14,000 words as of yesterday. That’d be a good pace except that here I am at Comic-Con where Wednesday through Monday will be pretty solid either setup, teardown, socializing, or driving home. I did get 1,000 words in yesterday AND had a great conversation with my husband about the world and the scope of the story in general. I like to write more close, personal stories, but I’d been trying to add a bigger, world-spanning arc to this one (it’s going to be a series of novels). We discussed whether I have to (no), whether I should (maybe?), and whether that would come at the expense of the personal story (undecided, but I am leaning no). I am thinking of something like “Grasshopper Jungle” or even the Harry Potter series, where the protagonist’s rich internal journey is set against a backdrop of the world slowly falling apart (or quickly falling apart, in the case of “Grasshopper Jungle”). He was thinking about “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” where the world is already pretty much f-ed up and the heroine’s internal journey is present but is secondary to the world-saving plot.

In the end, you know, all I can do is write the story I want to write, but I’m still at the stage where I have the freedom to decide what that is. If there’s an internal journey AND a world-saving journey, then I need to figure out why THIS hero? What makes him* the one who can do this? Is it just right-place, right-time (that is totally valid; a story of a hero who is just the guy in the right spot who steps up)? Or is there something about his situation (e.g. Harry Potter learned from his upbringing never to take family for granted)? I am less a fan of the “Chosen One” scenario, but even that can be done right (hero wrestles with the implications of being chosen and what makes him worthy etc.).

* My protagonist is (for the moment) male, so even though there’s a fair amount of gender fluidity in this story, I’m using the male pronoun for the hero I’m talking about.

I do think that for a series, there should be a larger, world-wide plot, if only because you should keep upping the stakes in each book, and it’s hard to do an internal journey that lasts three or four books. So I am leaning toward that–bonus is that I only really have to seed it in the first book, and I can decide more about it later.

You can see excerpts from my draft at my Clarion Write-A-Thon page, where you can also drop a few bucks to help support the Clarion Workshop. Clarion really changed my writing life and I’m anxious to pay that forward as best I can.

Updating will be slow this week, but look for more next week! And if you’re at Comic-Con, stop by booth #1236 and say hi and see what Sofawolf Press has been up to.