posted by jph on March 6th, 2012.
Category: Writing || Tags: mechanics, style, the-lodestone ||
My first attempt at a novel came at age 38. It followed the path of several popular epic fantasy authors with a strong single-character POV that rotated among a few different characters. It had lots of words. Here’s a brief example of the prose:
After a quick inventory of their weapons, Vaal and Teth set off into the oaken woods. Like ants marching through a mushroom patch, they walked beneath the huge trees in air shimmering green with stray shafts of sunlight breaking through the canopy. Teth was awed by the serene beauty of the ancient trees, which stood arm in arm through the marching centuries.
They walked, but did not talk. The trees had a weight to them that seemed to demand respectful silence. As the sun slid directly overhead, the air under the trees took on an emerald intensity that reminded Teth of swimming in the cold waters of the sea near the elven homestead. He walked on the seafloor, and the canopy above was the green ocean swell. His mind wandered, and dreams of his youth took him far away, where he knew nothing of the present.
Now, whether anyone else enjoys this passage, I like the imagery comparing the forest to the sea. I liked the overall story I was developing. I had a couple characters I loved, and the world-building was satisfying. The plot needed additional work, but I had a framework in place to carry the story forward.
Some 22k words into the novel, however, I abandoned it. I hope one day I can pick it up again, but I became convinced I was not writing a book that would captivate my kids, let alone anyone else’s kids. Too much descriptive text. A barrage of words and images that might go beyond their knowledge and experience. Now, as it turns out, I’ve since discovered that my kids are a tougher audience for my writing than other people’s kids, but I remain convinced my instincts were right.
So, who is my audience? Here’s how I defined my audience goal for The Lodestone:
Middle grade to younger YA and their parents. Twice.
I wanted to write a book that kids would love and that their parents would enjoy. Additionally, I wanted to reward reading the book a second time without making the first time through confusing. I’ll address how these goals specifically impact my writing in part 2. As to whether I succeeded or not is up to my readers.