Before I started working on Bix, I was writing a dystopian YA novel about civilization's recovery after an ice age. I did a lot of research and world building. I had two time lines going, one with the Ice age heroine and hero that took place in 2017---and seriously after last year's snowmaggedon doesn't seem that far off course--and one in the year 2525 after a journal is found at a dig site.
I knew all about my characters and knew where everything was headed. I had two heroines, Ainsley, the journal keeper from 2017 and Carmen, the 2525 journal finder. And I couldn't find either of their voices.
Ainsley always came off as too young and naive. And Carmen came off too stilted--even I heard it. I thought maybe it was because I was writing it in third person, when I am so much more comfortable in first. But even when I tried it in first, something wasn't right. I tried several different openings and yet nothing seemed to work.
And then I discovered Bix and I found my voice. Male, witty, sarcastic, but with heart.
This week I revisted those pages of The Journal Keeper and I realized what my problem was. The male characters are more interesting to me than the girl's. Nate-the hero from 2017 has a great story of survival and Orson from 2525 is a literary a Second-class citizen in a society that controls the birthrate of its people.
My realization? I write a better hero than a heroine, especially teenaged. I think part of it is that I don't get a lot of the "girly" stuff. Makeup, jewelry, fashion, uhm no, not in this lifetime. I don't notice when someone changes their hair--unless it's so drastic you can't help but notice. I don't pay attention to what people wear or how the house is decorated (which is why my cp's have to prompt my descriptions).
I guess at heart I am a male teenager. Is this a bad thing? No, I think not. In fact, I think it could be quite the opposite. If you look at the YA section at your local bookstore, you'll notice that most of them are geared at girls--in fact, I'd say close to 85 percent. The middle grade section has plenty for boys--Percy Jackson, Alex Rider--in fact, a lot of the middle grade stuff is made for boys or the universal market. But once you go older, its all about the girls. I read an agent who said finding an author who writes that writing the YA male is really hard to do. So I could be onto something.
Now, back to Bix...