On the advice of an editor, I am revising Sliver of Light to be a young adult novel. From the beginning, people have commented it might be better situated in YA because of its protagonist and relatively short length (it’s about 80,000 words), but I was unsure how to tailor it for that audience. Fortunately, the editor’s comments to me have helped me focus my efforts.
What is most interesting to me is that the suggestions for revision were about point-of-view, not content. Sliver of Light involves a possible teenage suicide, statutory rape, a 19-year-old brother who’s drunk a lot, and a secondary character who seems to be sexually experienced with no ill psychological effects. These seem not to be a problem; rather, the advice I received was about focusing more tightly on the teenage characters and not on the adult characters, to whom YA readers can’t really relate.
I’ve been downloading samples of new YA novels on my Kindle (If I Stay and Wintergirls so far) and I even paged through Twilight at the bookstore, and I found that they had one thing in common: a first-person narrator. My book is in third person, but I am trying to revise it to get it to seem as much like first person as possible, so that it focuses tightly on the protagonist, or, if she’s not present, only one character in a scene. My writing style has really been influenced by Garcia Marquez, whose narrators tend to be omniscient observers and interpreters — it’s what I associate with the magical realist style, but I’m pushing myself to be less Garcia Marquez/Rushdie and more Francesca Lia Block.
Minute craft-wise, though, I’ve been inspired by Garcia Marquez’s memoir, Living to Tell the Tale:
In the end experience convinced me that adverbs of means that end in -mente* are a bankrupt habit. I began to correct them whenever I ran across them, and each time I became more convinced that this obsession was obliging me to find richer and more expressive forms.
*The English equivalent is the -ly ending
For me, this has meant catching redundancies. For example, in “Beggars Would Ride” (what I ended up titling the story in the previous post), I found a passage where I wrote that someone was watching “impassively” but also “with the a air of someone waiting on a train platform.” The metaphor encompasses the state of being impassive, so the adverb was unnecessary.