Thursday, January 13, 2011

Inception (Not the Movie)

So I just thought of a new idea for a novel at the beginning of this week, and I thought this would be a good chance to take my readers through the process of creation that happens in my mind. For those of you who are writers, it'll just be a curious glimpse into another writer's process. For those of you who aren't writers, it will help you to understand the chaos of my mind.

In my novel Spirit Riddled, which I will very soon be furiously revising, a girl is taken off the streets by a mysterious man who most of the world thinks is evil--but he's not. At the beginning, the main character doesn't know if the mysterious man is evil or not. One of my critiquers commented "I really hope [mysterious man] is evil and in the end [main character] has to kill him."

My response was "No. No. No. No. No. Never in a million years would that happen in Spirit Riddled. That's a completely different story." And then I never thought about that comment again until this week.

Sometimes my mind does curious things. I was sitting in my lab, messing with the star tracker, when the comment popped back in my mind. And you know what, it is a different story. A kid gets taken in by someone he thinks is good but who turns out to be bad. Sure, a stereotypical twist maybe, but its just the beginning of an idea. Its the initial thought that can spring into a 50,000 word novel.

I immediately assumed this story would be Middle Grade, like Spirit Riddled, though I had recently been working on a lot of adult stuff. I really do enjoy writing Middle Grade and I really wanted to write this story from a boy's perspective. I suppose I could have done YA and made my MC (main character) 15 years old, but every YA I've started to write has given me tons of trouble. YA just has themes and issues that I don't really like to deal with. Middle grade, however, is perfect. Then my themes can be family and familial betrayal, something I know a surprisingly lot about.

As soon as I decided the MC would be a boy, the name Joshua almost immediately popped into my head. I think it was because V started up again, and Joshua is the name of the doctor alien who was part of the 5th column. I really like the name Joshua, but its one I haven't used before, and I refuse, as a matter of rule, to reuse names I've used in past stories. Once a name is associated with a character, its retired.

I needed Joshua to be dumped by his parents somehow early on, in order for him to be taken in (both literally and figuratively) by someone new. But I didn't want to have him actually abandoned, since that's Spirit Riddled's thing. My next thought was dead parents--dying in some sort of tragic accident. And instead of a stranger taking him in it would be his estranged uncle. And to add to Joshua's internal conflict, I decided his mother would have died long ago, leaving him with a father who is still mourning her death. His father wastes away their money trying to forget the mom, and the family is in poverty. Poverty is really all Joshua has ever known. When Uncle comes for him, Uncle is rich.

Hmmm....too like Spirit Riddled. Uncle isn't just rich. Uncle is part of an elite ruling class of their society. In a society that has a chasm-like split. There is the rich wealthy fabulous ruling class, and the impoverished everyone else. Two classes in one nation, and the two classes have completely different cultures and ways of life. So it's not just that Joshua goes from poor to rich. He goes from one culture and society to another. Suddenly, I'm world building.

And world building is a post for another day.

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