Coin Tosses and Novel Choices

Chute Image with Ladder

I promised my husband I’d figure this one out by weekend’s end.

I have two novels that have a chance of seeing the light of published day this year.

Both are science fiction. One is alternate-universe stuff, with lots of comedic touches and a very television-show like feel. The other is more Asimov-ish, but also easy reading, because I come from a background where I started writing scripts long before I ever tried novels.

For a debut novel, I’m overanalyzing which should go first. Concept, marketing, just the general “wow factor”… the less comedic one looks in line for the most success (well, maybe). However, there’s one problem bugging me:

First half of the book feels like a YA novel, as the main character is a teenager. Only I don’t think it’s YA. The second half of the book (and any series books to follow) show the main character as an adult. The book has adult themes.

Anyone reading the first two chapters would never guess that the book evolves straight out of the teen years and right into a sharp reality of a new world.

I can’t change the fact that the main character starts out young and doesn’t stay that way. It’s important to the tale. YET…

He may become an adult, but under his skin, he’s still a teenager.

Tricky to categorize, right?

Truth is, I’m not sure where the edges of YA and adult fiction are these days. Is it still YA if the character is in his 20s and older as the story goes on?

I doubt it. But… geez, it starts out in that category. So. *head-desk*

I’m stalling on this project because I can’t define my audience. I don’t want to set readers up to think they’re getting a YA novel and then leaving bad reviews because they end up with a grown man in a violent world after half a book.

My husband flipped a coin for me on these novels. The coin fell on the floor the first time—unofficial results chose the alternate-universe-semi-comedy. The official coin toss chose the maybe-not-YA-sci-fi.

Which one really won? I still don’t know.

Maybe we need a fresh coin toss.


Anton Chigurh: Just call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Well, we need to know what we’re calling it for here.
Anton Chigurh: You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair.
Gas Station Proprietor: I didn’t put nothin’ up.
Anton Chigurh: Yes, you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life you just didn’t know it. You know what date is on this coin?
Gas Station Proprietor: No.
Anton Chigurh: 1958. It’s been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it’s here. And it’s either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Look, I need to know what I stand to win.
Anton Chigurh: Everything.
Gas Station Proprietor: How’s that?
Anton Chigurh: You stand to win everything. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Alright. Heads then.
[Chigurh removes his hand, revealing the coin is indeed heads]
Anton Chigurh: Well done. Don’t put it in your pocket, sir. Don’t put it in your pocket. It’s your lucky quarter.

11 Comments

Filed under Decisions, Fate, Life, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing

11 responses to “Coin Tosses and Novel Choices

  1. I believe YA by definition has to feature a teenage protagonist. If they grow up after several books, it’s fudging the line slightly, but still acceptable. But if your book hops straight to adulthood halfway through, I’m pretty sure it can’t be classified as YA. Maybe go with New Adult, or just general sci-fi?

    • karengadient

      I think you’re right on. If I try YA, some folks will flip out.

      Although in this case, he’s not really aging. It’s all on the outside. But having an adult body gets you in trouble that isn’t exactly YA.

      I worry that adult sci-fi readers will think they’ve gotten a YA book at first… and put it down. I’ll have to find a way to hint early that things change fast.

    • karengadient

      That’s close to the idea. Only throw some Ridley Scott at it. The violence level is a bit high at times. The more I think about it… if this novel went into a series, he’d be seventeen, then eighteen, and onward. So. Adult works.

      Annnd… I just found my original opening scene, which is in his future: as a man. I think that will make things clear, once rewritten. (So folks… always save even your crappiest versions! You may need them someday.)

      Still, blogging about it has helped me think it out. Yay, blogging!

  2. Ohh …I never ever thought about when you publish what to publish it under. (Not that I am in danger of doing that as I haveNOT even come close to editing haha.)

    By the way … I take it this is the book you did the cover for?

    • karengadient

      Never did a cover for either of these books, other than the little placeholders I used for NaNoWriMo. But the main character in the sorta-YA one is the lead image in this post.

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