You may be interested to know that speculative fiction was not my first YA genre of choice. When I first started writing YA I wrote contemporary. Just getting my feet wet, I wrote with a writing partner. Not just a critique partner, but someone who shared in the actual writing of the story. Things were going well. Then they weren’t. We were halfway through our second book in a series, and querying the first, when she dropped the bombshell on me. Our stories were too vanilla. It wasn’t her. She wanted chocolate. Dark writing. So she left our partnership and began writing with someone else who could fill that dark need for her.
I came away from that experience a bit put off, insulted, and determined. I wanted to prove to her and to myself that I wasn’t a vanilla writer. I could come up with dark. I could come up with edgy. So I sat on this for a while, letting story ideas evolve until one came to me that I felt was perfect. It had everything I wanted. Edginess, dark characters, hope, heartache, and a strong, likeable MC. I didn’t just want a quick beach thriller. I wanted a story that resonated with the reader. That had depth and layers. And so I created my ice cream sundae.
Ironically, I started off with vanilla ice cream. That is my MC. Although she is stubborn, determined, and doesn’t knock down easily, she keeps her positive attitude and doesn’t step on people to get where she needs to be. She’s sweet, thoughtful, and all around likeable. Most importantly, she doesn’t let her flaws define her as a person. I embraced the vanilla for her.
But that’s where the vanilla ends. I doused her in chocolate syrup. At every corner, she runs into cruelty and betrayal.
I added marshmallow crème for the tender, feel-good moments
Some rainbow sprinkles for the variety of friends she makes along the way
A couple of cherries for the baddies
And a dollop of whipped cream for the happy ending
But even with all of these yummy flavors melding together, I still stuck to my gut and went with the vanilla ice cream. Vanilla can be edgy too, as long as you surround it with lots of killer toppings!
What food would describe your story ?