Paula’s Post #9 — If you’ve been following this blog, you may have figured out by now that both Joe and I are writing YA novels.
In his post last week, Traitorous Doubts, Joe wrote:
Pages written: 125.
Joe, Joe, Joe… you’re killing me!
Those words terrify me. I want to throw down my outline and write. I can’t possibly keep tinkering, ad infinitum, with my outline’s sagging middle and murky ending.
I have to start writing.
Except I’m beginning to have my doubts about a few things.
Doubts so big, my target YA audience might even label these doubts ‘ginormous’. And while we’re on this rant, why doesn’t spellcheck recognize ‘ginormous’ as a perfectly good, highly descriptive adjective? How can I write a great YA novel when spellcheck doesn’t know the word ginormous exists?
But once again, I digress.
Suffice it to say that my ginormous self-doubts are so seminal to my novel, so important to every nuance of plot and subplot, I know I can’t possibly start writing until I decide whether to listen to those nagging little twinges of ‘self-doubt’ and make a HUGE CHANGE to my story, or just tell the nasty little buggers to scram and shove them head first into the nearest trash can.
So what are these ‘ginormous’ self-doubts
This weekend, almost half way through the 5writers challenge, I suddenly started to doubt whether my protagonist, my main point of view character, the kid on whose shoulders my entire story rests, should, in fact, be male, not female.
Ack, Ack, Ack! This can’t be happening.
Months ago I decided on a strong female protagonist. Teenage boys don’t read fiction. Sure, there are exceptions, (I’m guessing Joe is one of them) but apparently not enough to make agents and editors want to take a chance on a book with a male protagonist.
I get that.
But now that I’ve got the whole book more or less mapped out, I’m starting to doubt whether my characters and storyline will appeal to girls. Rather, I feel that I may be writing a novel that is more likely to appeal to boys.
And if so, how do I reconcile my Catch-22 dilemma? The one that says: don’t make your protagonist a boy, since 75% of all YA readers are girls.
Writers talk about having ‘beta’ readers. I’m only at the outline stage, and I’m out-of-town right now… 2500 kilometres away from my 5writers buddies. I have only my husband off whom to bounce ideas. Sure, I could call or email my 5writers buddies and seek their feed back on this dilemma, but to do so I’d have to divulge much of my plot, and that is something we 5writers more or less decided we would not do.
So I’m stuck with my husband as sounding board.
He’s a boy.
His verdict? My protagonist should be male.
But after seeking his advice, I still felt conflicted. After all, how often do you take advice from your spouse?
For me, there is a lesson in all this: outlining has its virtues, but at some point, I feel I just have to start writing the damn book, even if I don’t quite know the ending yet. I need to find out where my characters are going to take me…
…oh, and what sex they’re going to be!
So yesterday I started writing. I now can clock in, just like my hero Joe:
Pages written: 19
Pie’s eaten this week: 0
Sex of Protagonist: Female…
…at least for now.