Most people go into town to go shopping. On Saturday I appear to have used it as an excuse to clear my head and think about one of my writing projects (although I did get the new shoes I wanted for work as well as picking a book up in a charity shop I was about to pay full price for).
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about my novel Refugee. The book has been drafted and has sat dormant for a year whilst I work on other projects, but always in my mind.
It features a young protagonist, and whilst he isn’t the only one, the framework of the novel largely hangs around his character.
I’ve been very reluctant to consider it a possible YA book. For a start, I’ve documented my issues with YA in the past (mainly concerning age barriers in fiction). Secondly, there is a horrific scene on which the plot pivots that whilst I’ve taken great care to not exploit or make graphic, is quite shocking none the less. From a career perspective, given the type of stuff I want to write, do I want to be labelled as a YA author? There’s also the reverse psychology of having friends who work with YA – you want to feel you are leading and doing your own thing, not following and being a sheep.
But on my trip into town on Saturday I entertained the possibility. I removed my ego from the equation. Would it be a stronger book if it was YA? Was I capable of writing it? Would pushing other protagonists into the background cause the book to lose some of its magic? Was the book ‘Refugee’ or ‘Refugees’?
The first thing I considered was that if this book was a single person’s story then it should be first person. The character goes through enough of an emotional journey that I think seeing it through their eyes would give the book more depth. Of course, my brain then tells me as I think this, they go through such changes during the course of the story that it has to be told in present tense. Woah! That one came from nowhere but made absolute sense.
But there’s still that scene. The one I want to approach correctly and with sensitivity.
So I’ve decided I’m going to rewrite that scene in first person present tense and show it to a few people. If they come back thinking it works, I’ll try that route with the rest of the book. If they don’t, I’ll take their criticism on board and work from there.