It's Always in There
by Jody Feldman
1. My main character does not have enough motivation to carry him through his journey; or
2. He does not have enough reason to accomplish his mission without turning to adults.
Last Tuesday, it was the latter. I was working on a mess of a second draft, and I was only on page 7 when it slapped me across the face. Wouldn’t any normal 13-year-old enlist the help, or at least ask the advice, of a parent in this adventure?
The answer? Yes. At least as I had written it.
But surely, I could still craft a good story if Linc, my main character, would involve adults. These were serious problems, right?
Now, when it comes to washing dishes or navigating traffic, I am one to take the easy road. Not so when it comes to writing. Nearly two years ago, I made this New Year’s resolution, and I’ve tried to stick with it ever since.
I couldn’t settle, not with one of the first rules for writing kidlit on a brain loop: Kid-characters need to be the heroes of their journeys.
Now, it helps that I can be stubborn, especially when it comes to meeting standards. I refuse to turn to whatever muse may hang around my computer and admit defeat. For the rest of Tuesday, I tried to figure out why Linc needed to do this on his own. Nothing came. Not even rejectable ideas. I went to bed defeated, but woke remembering what always seems to work.
I looked inside that mess of a draft I was editing. And there it was. A chimney I’d happened to mention on page 63. It was a stream-of-consciousness idea that I’d thrown in for a random bit of setting, but it proved yet again that my subconscious can be sorta smart. That chimney told me why Linc didn’t turn to his parents; why he’s certain he needs to personally navigate this journey. And now, so am I.