Do you know who your characters are? More importantly, do they?
Identity is a common YA theme. If you’ve survived the deep fiery hell known as adolescence you can much better understand why. It can even take a lifetime to figure out who you are, or who you want to be.
But at least, growing up, you can discover who you don’t want to be.
I never intended for identity to become such a deep-rooted theme in my book. It’s part of the mysterious element of the entire series, actually. The sci-fi element comes in when the villain figures out how to disguise himself to look and sound like anyone he wants to, with the help of some government technology meant for, of course, a completely different purpose. But that doesn’t come in until after the prequel.
Yes, one of my characters has a twin. Spoiler alert.
Yes, there are questions about who is related to whom.
But mostly, the story revolves around five teenagers who think they have their lives all figured out until a contest is announced, one that, if they win, will get them out of conducting an honors project and guarantee them what is the equivalent of one of us being accepted into college without having to apply.
It’s not what they think it will be. As you can probably guess.
It changes daily, but at this point my favorite character is probably Lucas, who is so shy around other people he never speaks. He and the narrator become friends after she defends him against his big bad bullies. She can never convince him to tell her why he stopped talking. Oh, she also saves his life on multiple occasions, but no big deal.
The events following the isn’t-what-it-seems competition don’t just change Lucas; they change each of the characters, mostly helping them come to terms with their futures and how they want to contribute to their society. That, of course, sets the stage for the subsequent books, which fast-forward 17 years. Go figure.
Then it gets even more fun, with an unidentified villain taking the places of different characters at unknown intervals.
But I can’t go back to writing those yet. I have to finish what I start.
The hardest part is taking elements of stories we’ve all read before and creating something new out of them. New identity struggles. New revelations.
Such as, which twin really jumped into the river?
Has Ollia’s mother really been missing all this time?
Who is Charles?!
Oops, sorry. Wrong story.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.