I’m here. Crunch time. My novel is pretty much done. I love everything about it. Now it is time to make those big decisions that I’ve been putting off.
When I started writing this novel, Magellan was six years old. I really loved the idea of a really young child being ripped away from his parents. He lived with the King for four years before going to school at ten years old. The problem was… huge jumps in time. The King’s Residences are just “Act One”. Act two has Magellan in school for several years. Act Three is him coming home, and facing ?????? the climax.
My big problem is that Magellan is sixteen in act three. That age is solid. It can’t change. The final section deals with a lot of more YA/adult content than Act One. I had a Middle Grade beginning and a Young Adult ending. Two very distinct genres. Not good.
I toyed with the idea of cutting HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT into two novels. There is a climax at the end of Act One/Beginning Act Two, but I couldn’t “summarize” what was going on. Magellan didn’t “have to do anything” yet. (Other than dodge the overly affectionate princess, and stay alive while the homicidal prince keeps trying to kill him)
The first change I made was to “age up” Magellan to eight. This left me with a two-year span in Act One. Everything else stayed the same. It still wasn’t working, though. There were still time jumps in Act Two that I wasn’t quite comfortable with. I was still struggling with the age question.
My challenge was to make Magellan more “marketable” to a YA audience in the beginning. Eight wasn’t cutting it either. So, I hunkered down. I made the big decision.
Magellan is now Eleven when he is taken, and I have shortened my timeline.
I had to re-write a few segments to make him a little less weepy, but it flowed fine. He now only spends a year in the Kings residences in Act One. A year, I found, was plenty of time for him to become best friends with the younger price, have the princess fall in love with him, and make her older brother so mad he becomes homicidal.
This also fixed Act Two. I no-longer need to quickly age Magellan a year as soon as he goes to school. There is no longer a need for a time jump. The first climax that sends him “on his way” can now happen in the first year. He is thirteen. (Just turned thirteen—that’s two years older than in the first draft at this point) That makes it easier for him to make the big decisions that he makes. He is mature enough. The age progression up to sixteen, then, feels natural as everything starts happening around him.
Now that I’ve done it, I am shaking my head. Just changing his age, and narrowing my timeline, has filled so many holes. It’s now more fluid. It makes more sense. Now, I finally have that “Omigosh, did I actually write this?” feeling.
I realize that most of you have never read HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT, but I am telling you this for two reasons:
#1 – to get it all straight in my head and
#2 – to let you know NOT TO BE AFRAID of the “big decision”.
If you are struggling with a possible change, and you “feel it in your gut” you are probably right. I knew this needed to be done last year, but I fought against it. Now that it is done, I want to smack myself.
Think over your novel. What is bogging it down? What are you clinging to that just might not work in the end? Whatever it is… Make the Big Decision.