Revising, Writing

So Apparently I Write YA …

Or at least I’ve written one YA. I hesitated whether to put this out there since a few agents still have DUET, but I’ll go ahead and say the revision I did was to make it YA.

I had no idea if I could pull it off. For one thing, I had to add at least 25,000 words. Considering it was 43,000 words before that, I added more than another half of the book. For another, I’ve spent all this time building my blog platform on middle grade, so when the agent said, “I think this would work better as YA,” I went, “Ahhhh!”

But here’s the thing. She was right. And I think the disconnect came because the last book I queried was MG. I put a lot of time into reading and learning MG so I could master that age group. So when I had the idea for DUET, I never even considered if it was right for MG. I just jumped into that category because it was what I knew. However, once I started working on the revision, I realized making it YA allows me to go deeper with the music, darker with the plot, and add a romance instead of just a crush. And if you’ve been reading my blog a while, you’ll know I love my romance.

So, you might ask, why didn’t anyone else tell me this sooner? I think because aside from the musical aspect, I had focused the plot points on the MG audience–friendship, a crush, etc. I’d had comments here and there about the voice being on the edge of upper middle grade. I wasn’t averse to aging it up, but I was getting requests, so I figured it must be ok. Plus, I had no idea where I’d get those extra words. In this case, it helped that right after the revision request I received a rejection with some detailed feedback that made a light bulb go off in my head. It also helped that the agent who suggested the revision gave me some specific reasons why it should be YA. As I’ve said before on the topic of revision, I think sometimes you just don’t know what to do with the feedback when you first receive it. It’s not that you don’t value it, you just don’t get it. Then, one day it finally clicks.

This revision is really more of a rewrite, but I feel like DUET has become the book it should have been all along. It’s not ready yet. I have it out to readers and expect I still have work to do before I send it out to agents, but I know I’m on the right track.

Of course this brings me back to timing again. Because other agents still have the MG version, I revised as quickly as possible, intending to notify them about the revision once it’s ready. At the same time, I don’t want to rush the process and send out something that isn’t at its best. It’s a tough line to follow. I alternate between thinking I should notify them in case they get to it before I send the revision and waiting it out. I appreciate any suggestions. Ultimately, I don’t want to waste their time.

Ah well, I wish there were a magic formula to this querying business. How’s everyone else doing?

8 thoughts on “So Apparently I Write YA …”

    1. Thanks! It’s amazing how long it can take to get that right comment, but I know it all happens for a reason. It had to hit me at the right time, when I was ready to take it on. So glad I did!

  1. Hooray for coming over to YA! So excited that you’ve made the leap (for my own selfish purposes, LOL)! Fingers crossed that this leads to awesome things for you and your writing!

  2. Hi Michelle! That you’ll do what it takes to make your story the best possible is what’s important. Kudos! My current WIP is YA. I wanted to test the waters on another project at a conference pitched the idea, and was surprised when Steven Malk told me that story was definitely MG. I’m glad I’d only written the first couple of chapters, because Steven was right! When I start that project in earnest, I’ll write it for middle grade. It’s all about what’s best for the story! Thanks for your post.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. If only I’d stepped back and considered that earlier, but I don’t regret any of this journey. I’ve learned from each rejection, and I’ve incorporated the other feedback into this YA version, too. Good luck with your projects!

      1. All the twists and turns of our journey make us better writers. I decided to “workshop” a new idea at a conference, after being at a conference where Shannon Messenger did that very thing. Good luck with your new YA novel. Keep us posted on the progress!

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