In addition to working on my new WIP, I’ve been rewriting LIGHT BRINGERS, my YA Urban Fantasy. It was the first YA novel I’d written and I queried it about 2 years ago. After several requests for fulls garnered no agent, I realized that I needed to do a complete overhaul.
First I changed it from third person to first person, feeling like I needed to get more into my main character’s—Ryan—head. I was halfway through and realized that wasn’t going to work, because I had a few chapters that needed to be in another pov.
So, back to the drawing board. I worked on it in while the novel I’m currently querying sat or was with readers. Finally, I finished the rewrite. I let that sit for a few months and just started reading it. I felt the problem about 8 chapters in and my heart sank. I love this story. Love the characters and want so desperately to share it with the masses one day. So, when I saw that something wasn’t working, I couldn’t believe it. What’s going on with this story? I thought.
Then, I saw X-Men First Class on Saturday. LIGHT BRINGERS is somewhat like X-Men in the sense that my characters have special abilities due to a genetic defect. Ryan works for an elite group of soldiers known as Venators, but that’s where the similarities end. However, when I saw X-Men First Class this weekend, I realized what I was doing wrong with this novel I love.
Ryan’s age is 18 almost 19 in my novel. That right there will make some agents say no thanks, he’s too old for YA (which completely baffles me, but we can debate that at a later date). With his mere 18 years, I was trying to make him too knowledgeable, too advanced. Yeah, there are some characters in the novel who think he’s a hot shot, some kind of wunderkind. But what it boiled down to was, I didn’t believe he was capable of the responsibilities I’d put on him. So, how could I expect anyone else to say, “Yeah, I believe this 18 year old could have joined this elite group of soldiers at 16 and in almost three years he could be promoted to Under-Sergeant, able to lead his own squad.”
Nope. It wasn’t working. The thing that I got from X-Men First Class was that these new recruits could do awesome things, and save the day, but they had a leader, someone who trained them and watched over them. It was believable that they would go out on this mission and do what they did best, but under the leadership of Professor Xavier.
I don’t have to change my plot, or my characters. I just need to put Ryan in his place. Stop trying to force him to be more than he’s capable of being at the present moment. He’s a rookie, so let him be a rookie. He can still be cocky, still screw up, and yet, he can still save the day, right?
Now, I’m going to do something I’ve never done. I’m going to do an outline. Eep! I’m a fly by the seat of my pants type of writer, but this hasn’t been working for LB. I need to map out all the ways I can change Ryan into a cadet (instead of a corporal), trying to prove himself and keep his best friend alive. * cracks knuckles * Off I go! I’m so PUMPED!
Have you guys ever had an Aha! moment with your work? It could be plot, character, or that fantastic ending. Tell me all about it.