Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Now I've gone and done it.

Despite the fact that I'm almost 30K into my adult fiction MS, I lost my mind earlier today and decided to tentatively draft a new story, just for the fun of it. The problem is, once I started writing it, I enjoyed it. A lot. A little too much to give it up.

Problem is, I really don't know what to class this story as. I'm thinking it reads like a MG, ***EDITED TO ADD*** (okay, so I might be wrong, but my MC is 11-12 yrs old) but honestly...I really don't know. I'm new to this MG/YA world. I am posting a little of what I've started below.
***ALSO EDITED TO ADD*** Before I get spanked for this, I thought that MG novels were basically like YA but with a younger MC, and in general shorter? I guess I'm wrong, but could someone tell me what the major difference is?

What do YOU think it is? Would you want to keep reading it?

Might make men uncomfortable.

*ALSO EDITED TO ADD, YES AGAIN* I have removed (almost all) annoying dialogue tags from writing below, thanks to a comment from Tracy. Tracy, I love you! But not in a weird way.

Getting your period sucks.

“Well, either your period started or you crapped your pants,” Alyssa said, putting on an extra coat of lip gloss.

“I didn't crap my pants,” I insisted, stranded on the toilet. “Aren't you going to help me?”

“Here's a pad." She tossed me one from the cabinet underneath the sink. I looked at her, realizing that she fully expected me to figure this out on my own. “It's not rocket science," she added, in all of her infinite fifteen year old wisdom. With that, she walked out of the bathroom, leaving the door wide open.

I sat there, totally humiliated, until I realized that I needed a fresh pair of panties. “ALYSSA!” Suddenly I was glad the door was still open. I knew she could hear me.
“ALYSSA!!!!!” Silence. She was probably on the phone again. Or just ignoring me...which, lets face it, seemed much more likely.

I refused to put my nasty underwear back on, so I left them on the tile floor, wiped, then ran to my room as fast as I could, my pad in hand.

Ten minutes later, I was sitting uncomfortably at the kitchen table, feeling like I had a mattress shoved in my pants. Have I put it on right? I wondered. There didn't seem to be a “this end up” sign or anything. And besides, like Alyssa's not rocket science.

Getting your period might be a wonderful experience if you have a mother. I can just imagine it now...the speech about becoming a woman, the pad explanation, the my baby's growing up tears in the eyes. Feeling validated, feeling all kinds of grown up.

Maybe, if I had a mother, I'd get some kind of special treatment today, I thought to myself. Today would be different, somehow. A cupcake worthy day...or something. But I knew that wasn't happening. Moms and cupcakes were hard to come by...especially with my dad running the show.

Alyssa is my only sister, thank god. Sisters aren't exactly what movies make them out to be. I don't have a brother, so I don't know what that's like. But I'm willing to bet it's a whole lot better.

Dad walked into the kitchen, pouring himself a cup of coffee with his large hands, permanently stained with oil. I swear, it's like he never washes them. Dad's a car mechanic, and he can't do much else. Once he tried to start up a conversation with my friend's mom about books...that was an epic fail. I knew if he found out that my period had started, he might do something crazy like talk about it. He wasn't exactly on a need-to-know basis, so I decided he didn't need to know.

“Jacie started her period,” said Alyssa, ratting me out the minute she graced us with her presence. She dropped down into her seat at the kitchen table, and I felt my face burning with anger and embarrassment. I'm pretty sure my dad spilled his coffee.
“Thanks a lot." I hated that I couldn't deny it.
I didn't look at dad, but I could feel his stare boring holes into my head.
“You did?” He asked, and I heard his coffee cup touch the table.
I shrugged. “It's no big deal." I shot daggers at Alyssa from the corners of my eyes. She smiled innocently.
“Did Alyssa....take care of it?” He asked, and I'm pretty sure he had no idea what 'taking care of it' even meant.
“Yeah, I totally did,” Alyssa said, getting up from the table and grabbing a granola bar out of the pantry. “No problem.”

I glared at her openly then. Dad had no idea there was anything hostile between us, despite the unmistakable tension that hung in the air. Walls had better intuition than him.

He smiled. “Well, I sure am glad you have a sister." He took a sip of his coffee. “You guys can take care of all that lady business.” He paused, wondering if he should say more. The answer is always no. He never listens.

“Don't go getting pregnant now!” My body hit the table as he slapped me on the shoulder like I was one of his buddies at work. I should have known it was coming, but I guess I had assumed that he knew better. I assumed wrong.

As I rolled my eyes in response, Alyssa pushed herself back in her chair, her painted toenails propped on the kitchen table. Where we eat.
“HA! AS IF!” Her long, shiny blonde hair rippled down her back as she laughed.


ElegantSnobbery said...

DENA!!! I would shout at you, ordinarily, but I love it!!! I definitely hope you continue.

HOWEVER, don't drop what you've started!!

Here's what I do: Grab a notebook (per book idea that pops into my head) and fill it with dialogue, storyline, outline, small scenes - whatever I hear in my head. FOR 3-5 DAYS ONLY!

Then, I resume current WiP.

After 3-5 days, I find I have a grasp of what this new book all about, what the characters are going to be like, and bits of dialogue to keep me in their heads forever and ever.

I do end up adding to the notebook here and there, but never spend more than 30 or so minutes on it in a week. My current WiP is nearly done, but I already have notebooks started for 4 other books, with plot, characters, and lots of dialogue figured out. Am I itching to start them? YOU FRIGGIN' BETCHA! But is it so much better that I finish what I've invested so much time on? YOU FRIGGIN' BETCHA!

So. That is what I do. You might want to give it a try.

Alleged Author said...

I would say the voice is way more YA than MG. Reading this I didn't get the feeling of MG at all.

Dena Daw said...

that's a great idea Marisa! I'll do that!

Justine- thanks for the input! I have absolutely no idea what the difference is between MG and YA at all, but my MC is 12, so that's why I thought...maybe mg?
obviously not lol

ElegantSnobbery said...

Dena - I think this will be perfect as an MG. I have a list of MGs to share, that might be right up your alley!

Just as Long as We're Together - Judy Blume

Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech

Absolutely Normal Chaos - Sharon Creech

Flipped - Wendelynn VanDraanan

The Great Gilly Hopkins - Katherine Patterson

The Agony of Alice - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

These are all favorites of mine!

A. Grey said...

I'm with ElegantSnobbery I think it reads great as an MG! And I have to say, at the risk of sounding questionable, I LOVE a book that lays something like your period out like it is. A great example is Cloven Hooves (definitely adult though) by Megan Lindholm, where the MC describes getting her period back in the seventies with the little suspender things you had to use and everything. I don't have a problem with bathroom talk if it has a purpose.

I'd try and find a comfortable balance between working on your two WIPs but you should absolutely keep going with this! And try Wikipedia for the differences between young adult and middle grade, there's some good information there.

Alleged Author said...

AH, you never gave the age of your MC in the first time you posted! Then I looked and realized I thought when you said 15, you were talking about said MC not sister. I still hold that it is hard to tell if it's YA or MG because you don't have enough to go on right now. Different content later on could change it one way or the other. Starting with a period doesn't always mean MG just like starting with a relationship doesn't always mean YA. While the age signals MG, it's the content of the book that will be the deciding factor. If you go to absolutewrite (in the writing for children section), I bet they would be able to help you decide if you give them an outline. Or even if you want to give an outline to your beta!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I think it is in that coming of age middle ground between YA and a little too old for MG. MG is all over the map anyway but so is YA. People need to write the stories and this one is a biggie. You def need to write this but I will be pissed if you give up on Lauren(I know you are scared of me). I'd listen to Marisa because she is brilliant.

Alleged Author said...

Going with what Tina said you could always write it (based on content) and query it as UPPER MG. That way an agent wouldn't say, "Ah! She doesn't know the market because she labeled it such and such." Sometimes an agent will look at something and if it isn't labeled the right age range, reject it. A few agents' blogs say they do that and I know Janet Reid is a big believer in correct labeling. I love the voice of the character above and hope you continue with it!

Jonathon Arntson said...


Dena Daw said...

do they have "Tween" books? Lol
thanks for the input guys
And don't worry, Tina, I'm still going strong with Lauren!

Dena Daw said...

and Jon- I don't know what to make of the whoa, but if it's because of the subject were warned.


ElegantSnobbery said...

Dena, MG is tween. It is about 8-12. I started reading MGs when I was in about 4th grade and continued reading them until I was in about 7th grade before moving onto YA. Of course, I still read them now, I just mean back in the day when I was a li'l tyke, reading MGs.

I assumed you read Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, because I though all girls read that one... but I'll add it to the list of books you need to read, in case you haven't.

BTW, Are You There, God was the first book I ever read featuring a girl getting her period. And they talk about growing their boobs. I think just about every girl in America since the seventies who had read that book has related to it at some point in their youth!!

Also, yes, listen to me. Because according to Tina, I'm BRILLIANT!!! :D

(Thanks, Tina!)

ElegantSnobbery said...

Oh!! Also, I have a MG contemporary with a 12 year old protag, that I'm working on, too!! Lets be crit partners!

Jonathon Arntson said...

Marisa's 3-5 day suggestion is solid and I think this is MG/YA cuspy. But I've said it before, Dena, do not focus on the genre, focus on the story.

Dena Daw said...

Got it Jon

Marisa- yay! Crit partner awesomeness! I'm in

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

Upper middle grade. 11+

I like this, but I could do without the extended dialogue tags. They became a little monotonous. Not that your writing is that at all, I'm just giving you constructive feedback. The VOICE is there, and that's what counts first and foremost!

Dena Daw said...

Actually, Tracy, I had no idea what dialogue tags were until you just mentioned I googled it. Embarrassing, but there it is. HA! I fixed almost all of them, actually- and I'm so glad you commented about it! I've got a lot of work to do on my current WIP as well now! You're right, they're annoying as hell but somehow I've managed to not even notice I'm doing it.
constructive criticism is priceless!

Dena Daw said...

For anyone else who is new to this writing to get published game, (in other words, if you're as clueless as ME), then click here to read about "dialogue tags."

Dena Daw said...

The link would help.

Sarah Mullen Gilbert said...

I love the tone, Dena! It captures the awkwardness of the event along with the family dynamics that promise greater conflicts. I'm trying to balance WIP revision with shiny new ideas too, have to get the thoughts down and then back to work :)

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