Back in December I was working on a round of edits and realized that a long-term problem was not going away. INNATE (formerly SAAFire) has two protagonists. I call them protagonists because a) they’re twins and b) they have individual character arcs.
In early drafts, Skye and Dawn start together, are separated, and end the story together. These three stages are divided very simply into the three act structure. Their individual wants/needs set up different arcs and what happens to one girl when they’re separated is radically distinct from what happens to the other. By the end, they have grown as people and satisfied all the requirements for a complete character arc.
In reality, Skye is a secondary protagonist. She is partially blind and there are a lot of disability-related issues discussed in this story. No matter how many sensitivity readers I have, or how much research I do, given the state of disability rep and authorship in YA, I think it’s not my place to put her at the very front of the stage.
Don’t get me wrong, Skye is a badass and she’s helping me fulfill an arc I wish I could have had in real life re: emotional abuse (spoiler: it’s a satisfying conclusion). I like to think readers will find Skye amazing whether or not she’s the person front and center on the cover.
The reason I bring this up is I decided to try a new narrative style. The story switches POV between the sisters. They always get their own chapters, never sharing narrative responsibility (this may be something that changes in the next round of edits).
In this new experiment, Skye’s chapters start in what was originally going to be Act 2 material. They’ve already been separated and she’s dealing with that nightmare while Dawn’s chapters are building tension, laying down most of the exposition, and answering some–but not all–of the questions raised in Skye’s chapters.
Such a style isn’t new. I actually got the idea from Kody Keplinger’s RUN (which, incidentally, has a character who sees pretty much the same way Skye does, so that was awesome accidental research as an ownvoices book).
This has been very, very difficult to construct. It required me to totally change the structure of the book and how I parse out the different sections. INNATE will be told in this form in four parts, not three. Since Skye’s chapters take place in the future (relative to Dawn, the main protagonist), making sure the reader knows when we are in the timeline has been tricky.
But I really like this style. It’s already made Part One stronger. I’m actually enjoying rewriting much of the book (this is my third overhaul in a year, I thought I’d be over it by now). I’m not planning to do such extensive revisions again and am really, REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REEEEEEAAAAAALLLLLLYYYYYYYYY hoping to be doing more minor revisions once this fourth draft is done.
This overhaul did allow me to review my characters’ appearances and make some changes. Stay tuned next week for that new novel aesthetics post!
About that promise….
I told one of my critique partners who hasn’t read this a bunch of times that I’d have sample of this experimental prose ready by end of December.
You may have noticed that it’s February.
So, Kat, I don’t know if you’re reading this (and I’ll DM you anyway), but I’m going to promise in front of my 170 followers (hi 170 followers! Thank you for following!) that I will have those samples by MARCH 17th.
It’s gonna happen. I’m gonna make it happen. That deadline gives me a whole week outside of this two week period where I may be working late.
IT’S GONNA HAPPEN.
See you next week.