I don’t post a lot on this blog, and I next-t0-never publicize it. I created it as a place where I could think out loud, blather, do some writing exercises, and then go back to Real Life. Well, Real Life has a way of changing, morphing from one period of mayhem, to lethargy, and on into some new period of mayhem. In my more positive moments, I call these various phases “adventure”. Just now, it’s called “stuck”.
I’m working on a book where a girl lives in a world where everyone has the ability to manipulate one of the five elements. Her problem is she can’t manipulate any of the elements and is considered an unproductive member of society because of it. Her family treats her badly and her greatest wish is to do something that will prove her significance to the world. Something that will prove that she isn’t just a waste of space. Sound somewhat familiar? That’s because it is. A similar concept has has been done before, and recently. Though I haven’t read the book(s) myself, I know they exist because my son has told me. Also, my writing partner has told me. And my writers’ group members have told me. I think that even a fifth-grader has told me (which shouldn’t be a huge surprise, because it’s a middle-grade book series). I’m actually chatty Facebook friends with the author of the series, and I admire him and the way he reaches out to other writers to help them and encourage them along. I’m not going to read his series because I worry about having some of his story sneak its way into my book. On the one hand I feel I’m missing out on an interesting read that I’m sure I could learn a great deal from. On the other hand, I feel like I have my metaphorical fingers in my ears and I’m yelling, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! NANANANANA!” Don’t tell me what I don’t want to hear.
At any rate, my book is Young Adult, not Middle Grade, and though I know it’s different, I’m having a difficult time convincing my muse to help me move it along. I sit down to write and find myself stuck somewhere in the middle just before what is supposed to be the climax scene. But part of me thinks maybe this is not actually the climax. Maybe this climax sucks eggs and doesn’t even belong in my book. Actually part of me knows this. Even as I write these words, I realize that the climax I’d planned and even partially written, does not work in this book. I will have to write something different. I don’t know what, I don’t know how. But it appears that the time has come to set aside the loose outline I had planned and just write and see where these characters end up taking me. At least I must for a while, until somewhere along the lines of text, I recover my writing mojo and enthusiasm for this book. I’ve been reading through some of the parts I’ve already written, and although far from perfect, it’s not as bad as I’d been thinking it was. There are in it seeds for something good.
First of all, Far World is a far cry from your story.
Second, I made it into your blog!
Third, I think you should do as you suggest–just write. One thing I’m learning is that you can’t make changes to what you haven’t first-drafted.
Back to point #1. Your story is totally different from Far World. It’s not a bad thing to have similar ingredients. You’ll fit into the “If you enjoyed ____, check out ___” category. The world is interesting that way–the collective unconscious, or something. (Last year in my boot camp class three people used the name Abbie, Abby, or Abigail. This year I’ve run into Helena, Helen, and Helen. I mean, what does it take to come up with an original name???) All we’re saying is that Far World uses the 4 elements and has a character who isn’t from Far World, so she’s immune to their magic. Your book uses the 5 elements which are, correct me if I’m wrong, water, air, fire, wood, and metal. (Or is earth one of them?) So there’s a big difference. And, as you pointed out, yours is YA. It’s also written by a woman and there will be romance. (Right? There must be romance.) (That last point was two points–1) romance, 2) written by a woman.) Don’t worry that you’re copying someone or following in their footsteps. As J Scott said himself, only you can write your story (or something like that–it’s his main FB post today).
Is that at all helpful? If all else fails, try writing something else.
I think I’ll do better in person because then I can gauge how much you want to hear about Far World and I can be more encouraging. We should do lunch. Oh, we are–tomorrow. 😉