26 February 2011

Labels

Touchstone ("Stray") is a space adventure, and is going to be a real challenge for me to market in a way where readers will reasonably understand the book.  My 'short short' blurb for it reads:
In this planet-hopping Girl’s Own Adventure, an Aussie teen must survive a world without technology, and then another with far too much. Rescue is only the beginning of her problems.
Given the current popularity of dystopias, I'll need to walk a fine line between showing the downsides of Cass' situation, and avoiding the dystopia label.  There are some un-fun aspects to Cass' experiences, some betrayals of trust, but the story is by no means dystopian.  A reader eager for a dystopian YA will be disappointed by the way this story runs.

Of course, my larger problem with Touchstone is the structure.  Not merely diary format, but the choice to write every day of Cass' life for a year (or at least those days when she's capable of writing).  This does fascinating things to the pacing, making the story feel very episodic, rambling, both breathless and long-winded.  Chapters are a structure which developed in novels for a reason, and "Stray" does not have them.

I once or twice have considered re-writing the entire thing as a more traditional novel, because I know I'm going to get negative flack for this story because of the structure.  But this story is one I love in its current form.  That Cass writes down what happens to her on the days where "nothing happens" is important to me.  That she mentions/names most everyone she spends time with, even if they're not important to the overall plot.  That Cass' character arc is more one of acceptance of her situation and the building of a new family rather than the more traditional "has faults" -> "overcomes faults".

It's taken me a much longer time to edit than I expected, and I'm going to have to do another re-read after I finish this run through.  Good thing I like this story.

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