Monday, May 12, 2008

Ramble on....about writing that is

What I’m Reading: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (I'm about 1/2 way) and Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (1/2 way, too).

What I’m working on: Rewriting Slayer from the beginning – it’s a whole new and better story. I'm still not to the point yet where I'll be able to use some of the old stuff I've already written, but I'm getting closer. Right now, it's all new words and ideas.

Word count today: 158

Last night, my writing group discussed our book club book via online chat. We take turns picking a book and then discuss it from a writer’s perspective. We used to nominate books and vote, but recently we switched to taking turns throwing out a title.

It was my turn for the latest. I selected a YA romance that has seen lots of hype. I didn’t like it as well as I hoped, but I learned a lot. A LOT.

After the discussion last night, I think what I write and the stories I make up in my head are coming of age stories. (Yes, I know: there are lots of kinds of coming of age stories.) I think mine are big-emotional-demarcation-line coming of age. I write about some decision or point or choice that divides the innocence of youth and the fallen-ness of adulthood. (Not that to be an adult you have to be fallen, but it's that crystal clear realization that things do go bump in the night, that sometimes happy endings are just Disney movies, that sometimes bad things happen to good people, that you can't always control everything, that decisions can haunt and almost everyone has regrets.) So, I think that’s what really draws me to books. It's what I like most about really good YA -- YA that's not just a good story, but rather that lingers with me and makes me think.

But then again, when I look at the books in both romance and YA that I really love, there is also some very well done sexual tension there. Always. Karen Marie Moning does it well. So does Brockmann and SEP and Hamilton (until Anita began to sleep with everyone). Twilight has it. Libba Bray’s books have it (and she does it so well that she makes you tingle with just a simple sentence or 2). Alice Hoffman had it in Incantation, and Meg Rosoff had it in How I Live Now.

So, despite the fact that the most recent book club read disappointed me a little, I was able to determine why and pinpoint what I love and don't and knowing that really does help as a writer.

So maybe I'm not a romance writer. But maybe I'm not YA either. I incorporate elements of both for emotionally searing, coming of age stories where the demarcation between youth and adulthood is often a chasm of jagged rock and you have no idea how you actually managed to cross it, but you also know there is no way you can go back.

Ramble, ramble. Write on.