1/5/11

A Surprising Direction

I finally got my butt back into gear over the last few days of the holidays and worked on the alternate chapter one of Ghost Fishing. On a recent post, I ruminated over the style and voice of my Middle Grade WIP. This is the curse of voraciously reading the genre. I set out to write it one way because I was enchanted by the fairy-tale-ish style and voice of Frank Beddor's, Looking Glass Wars. So I wrote.

And then I set my WIP aside to pay some heed to Urban Mythos, which needed some revising based on agent feedback. While I was away from my MG-that-could, I read a few Rick Riordan books whose attitude made me smile and laugh. This gave me pause, and I wondered if my new story would be better served in a slightly more active/snarky/1st person-ish style. I'd had some success with this style before.

Therefore, I crafted a new opening, told in 1st person and with a very different style from the original. Now, I'd also spent some time outlining the plot and character throughlines before I set to work. As a result, the opening chapter had a very different opening scene than the original. Regardless of my style choice, I planned on keeping this new scene. I had a hunch - not so much a preference - just a very strong feeling that if I put the two chapter ones in front of my eleven-year-old daughter, she'd go for the newer version.

It was time to put them to the test. I sat her in front of the computer, with both versions open, and awaited her reaction.

Boy (or should I say girl?) was I surprised. Hands down - the original won. My daughter, Rachel, is not partial to this style of book. In fact, she's as comfortable with Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games, as she is with the Sisters' Grimm and the Mysterious Benedict Society.  Like I said, it's not that I felt strongly about one style versus the other, I just had a feeling. I was wrong.

As a result, I took that new first scene and rewrote it into the original version's style. In the process of doing so, I think I've arrived at a third style - which is mostly the fairy-tale feel, with a bit more attitude. This style lent itself extremely well to the scene I wrote last night. So far, I agree with Rachel's opinion. That little girl (okay - she's pretty much 5' 5" or 5' 6" so not so little, but she's still 11 yrs old) knows her stuff!

And now, fueled on some Starbucks, I'm off to write some more!

4 comments:

M.A.Leslie said...

Welcome back to the grind and I am happy to hear that you are finding the voice you want to use.

To be completely honest, I am finding myself in similar shoes between third and first person for a middle grade WIP. I had half of the story done and realized, in third person, that I really wasn't thrilled with it.

To make a long story short, I like the 1st person now and I'm sticking with it, for now. Best of luck Jay and happy New Year.

Jay said...

Thanks, M.A. I loved writing Urban Mythos in 1st person - brought me so much deeper into my character's head. It's a challenge to maintain that connection in 3rd person, but we shall see!

Kristan said...

5'5"/5'6" at 11 yrs?! OMG SO JEALOUS. I'm 25 and only 5'4"... Sigh.

Anyhoot, yay for the new style! I'm glad you found a happy medium for yourself.

Jay said...

I know, right? My 15 yr-old son is keeping just ahead of her!