lessons i’m learning

This has been a stagnant week for writing.  I had a meeting at work a little while ago that indicated that similar weeks are on their way.  I really need to take advantage of the weekends and my new (well rediscovered, I suppose) love for Sam Adams.  He and I have become a decent writing duo over the past month or so.

Anyway, the bits of time I have found to write lately have gone into editing Blood Routes, writing poems (one every work day in honor of National Poetry Month) and working on my looking-to-be-less-YA-and-more-dark-fantasy novel Keyholes.  While the book was intended to be YA in nature, I have maybe taken it a bit out of that area and into something more fantastical.  I’m not sure yet.  Regardless, here are some lessons I have learned in approaching a novel as if it were intended to be for young adults:

More Show, Less Tell
I find myself revealing crucial plot points in dialogue rather than in  revelatory moments.  I usually force myself to not do this, as I think it builds tension.  But with Keyholes, too much of the book’s mystery is revealed in conversation rather than action.  I believe this can work in some stories, but just not this one.

Progressive Action Does Not Compensate for Paper-Thin Characters
My primary goal when first writing Keyholes, since I am new to writing for this genre/audience/whatever, was to keep the story moving.  I believe I have succeeded in this and am quite happy where the course of rapidly moving narrative is taking me.  Yet in the course of getting to this point, I have sacrificed character development.  Again, this is something I typically don’t do.  In fact, I have been criticized in past rejection letters on how I spent too much time developing characters rather than plot.  I tried the opposite this time and, now at 19,000 words, have a concept I am really liking and 2 characters that are boring at this point.  The approaching chapter (8) will reveal quite a bit about our main character, but I wonder if this may be too late.

Naming Characters for a YA Effort is Fun
The main character’s last name is Battlebee.  This, to me, just sounds fun (and is a name I would not use elsewhere as it sounds sort of comical).  The lady that owns the knickknack shop on the corner is Mrs. Glass.  The name of the town is Doorway.  Such fun.

Hopefully the weekend will set me on track to correct these issues.  In the meantime, please enjoy this edition of Flashback Friday:



  1. Awww Primus. That does give me good flashbacks.

    In re your character issues, I notice that when I find a problem/someone else finds a problem in my writing, I tend to swing in the other direction first before I come back to the middle.

    I always like silly names, even in grown-up novels. But then, I like Dickens, so I have to or I’d go fucking insane.

  2. Funny you put up “My Name is Mud” by Primus. I downloaded “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” the other day. It’s been forever since I listened to Primus. Sailing the Seas of Cheese, still one of my favorite cassette tapes in the younger days.

  3. Yeah, it’s tough to get that balance between story and character, isn’t it? I find that’s true regardless of what genre I’m writing in. Good luck.

  4. I’ve had several rejections point out that my characters aren’t emotionally engaging enough!

    Who thought this writing lark was easy?

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