Hello, beautiful monsters!
Today, I’m introducing another of my many, MaNy, mAnY, MANY works-in-progress. Creatively, I’m going in reverse, with my newest WIPs first, and then maybe eventually someday, I’ll introduce you all to my favorite of all favorites, the novel I keep rewriting and restructuring… Fate.
Today is not that day.
Today, I’ll be introducing you all to A Star Danced!
This WIP was my November 2018 NaNoWriMo project. It was such a big deal for me because it was the first time I’d don’t something fully original for NaNo in years. In previous times, I’d done rewrites or spinoffs of my other WIPs and in my larger universe. I remember being excited and terrified by this one.
A Little About A Star Danced…
A Star Danced was my first attempt at writing contemporary YA… and it shows pretty heavily in this draft. Even though I was still in the earlier days of experiencing this genre, the time felt right to write this story.
In this novel, a high schooler is faced with her world shifting. From the changing attitudes of her longtime best friend, to finding what she really wants out of her relationships, to struggling with closed-minded parents, there were a lot of hard-hitting topics in A Star Danced that I feel very strongly about.
For me, this story has been screaming to come out of my soul and Lora’s journey is one that I remember struggling with. I wanted to give Lora the opportunity to see things I didn’t see and defend herself against them, and to also give her the opportunity to define herself, rather than letting others tell her who she needed to be to fit into their life plans. I still really like the ideas behind A Star Danced, but it does need refining.
What genre is A Star Danced?
This one is YA contemporary. As I said, it’s really rough. I try not to think about it, but it’s been a long time since I was sixteen and I’m a bit rusty on the real life aspects and interactions. Even then, pulling them from my own long-ago experience isn’t right unless I make this (ack) historical fiction.
Which I have considered, actually. I think that some of the themes would make more sense if the book was set twenty years ago. I’m undecided how to pursue this, but I think on it from time to time.
What’s the inspiration?
Oh, I don’t know.
I wanted to write a book about a girl who knew she was different, but didn’t have the language for it, and most of all, she had so much instilled fear about her desires. I wanted her to second guess herself, to feel vulnerable and to feel real. I wanted to write that vulnerability on the page in so many different ways. And I wanted to write the heartbreak of losing a friend that she still loved, but no longer cared about her.
There were a lot of emotions in this book, and I was bleeding them all on the page.
Who is the protagonist?
Miss Lora Kinney. She’s a junior (sophomore? I always forget, but I tend to write one of those two grades) in high school. She’s terrified of failure, of disappointing people and letting them down and bearing the weight of their disapproval. She loves to read and her heart beats so fast whenever she talks to someone new but she makes herself do it anyway because she wants to know people down to their soul.
She’s had the same best friend since she was seven and she loves her like a sister. She likes being at Brittney’s house and with her family more than she likes being in her own home.
Lora was raised very religious, but doesn’t believe it, and doesn’t know how to tell her family that. She’s afraid of her father, annoyed with her mother, and her little sister is supposed to be her comrade-in-arms but usually just ends up tattling. Lora is decidedly not happy about her life, and she doesn’t so much decide she’s going to do something about it as she… stumbles into something a little better.
What POV is A Star Danced?
Third person, limited, one POV.
We’re in Lora’s head the whole time. I like writing multiple POVs, but this book is more about internal conflicts than external ones, and it made the most sense to stay with Lora the whole time. I think it would take away from the story otherwise, not to mention make it more confusing.
What is the Current Status of A Star Danced?
On pause. The first draft is mostly finished – I know I ran into a few placed where I was stuck and needed to move past a scene in order to get my word count in for the day. I really don’t like doing that when I write because sometimes I forget what I wanted to put there and I get a bit lost, but when you’re nearing the end of NaNoWriMo, you gotta do what you gotta do.
At the beginning of 2019, I intended to go back through and start editing this one out. I am pretty happy with my writing awareness, and I know that A Star Danced is riddled with flaws. The romance needs work, as well as Lora’s characterization (she’s just not as compelling as I want) plus I either need to modernize the school or pull the setting back to abut 2003. All things that need to be done.
Who is Rhapsody in Blue’s target audience?
I think this book is for anyone who is a little heartbroken, but not because of a romantic relationship. Even though the characters are teens, the sentiments are pretty applicable to any age. A Star Danced sings the song for those who’ve lost people who are still alive, and who feel like they are losing themselves.
It’s probably not the best story that’s been written for this purpose – and there are so many angles of heartbreak. But this one has my heartstrings attached to it.
What is the book’s blurb?
This is the blurb I originally wrote when I was introducing this back for Camp NaNoWriMo in 2018.
Lora Kinney is afraid of being alone. She’s also afraid of the future, of upsetting people, of getting a B, vampires, oblivion, and about seventeen thousand other things. She tries not to think about it, because her mind is a black hole of endless possibility and worst-case scenarios. To add to the turmoil in her own head, her merry band of misfits seems to be falling apart, and if she loses the few friends she has, she doesn’t know what she’ll do. The future is white and impossible.
In a last ditch effort to renew their friendship, Lora follows her childhood best friend to auditions for the fall play. She loves Shakespeare, and maybe Much Ado About Nothingwill gives them some laughs and stories that will glue together the pieces of their broken friendship. Lora must navigate a strange new world she’s only imagined to wriggle her way into Brittney’s life again. But if she really thinks about it… is that where she wants to be? Or should she sculpt herself an identity without Brittney?
I think that the book grew a little in the course of writing and it wouldn’t hurt to update this once I solidify my priorities and direction a bit more.
A small slice of my WIP
Lora smiled and extended her hand. “Bonjour,” she said. “Je m’appelle Lora.”
In an equally cheesy, if slothlike movement, Zak returned: “Bonjour Lora. Je m’appelle Zachary.”
2. Describe a recent activity, and ask your partner about a different recent activity.
Lora chuckled. The worst verbs always popped into her mind, but she went with them, because better ones simply weren’t coming. “Je suis mourir,” she explained, “Mais hier j’ai mangé les poissons.”
I am dying, her brain translated. But yesterday, I ate the fish.
The sentence had clearly thrown off Zak as well, because he flipped to the glossary in the back of his textbook and thumbed through the terms. When he identified the one he was looking for, to his credit, Zak chuckled and leaned back in his seat. The chair groaned. In a deep voice, he replied, “Je suis désolé vous etes mort.”
Lora accepted his regrets with grace. After all, she, too, was quite upset that she was dead.
“Hier, j’ai joué au théâtre,” he explained. “Et aujourd’hui, je suis mort aussi!”
Lora laughed, but stopped herself so she didn’t catch the attention of the class. Yes, that sounded about right. Yesterday he had theatre, and now he is dead too. What a bunch of beautiful zombies they all were.
So, okay. My French needs some work. It needs even more work now. But I’m not completely unhappy with this bit. Do French classes in school still have group activities like this? I remember having to pair up and practice conversation a lot in class, and we always chose the most ridiculous verbs and nouns we could remember. Grenouille and pamplemousse were favorites.
What’s next for A Star Danced?
The whole thing needs a rewrite, which was something I knew even when I finished it. As I started writing this one, I had ideas, but as I wrote, Lacey was born. This character named Lacey ended up being one of the most important parts of he book, and so a lot of the early chapters don’t really fit anymore.
That’s one of my favorite things about writing – minor characters assert themselves and share their stories, and things go unexpectedly.
If you wrote a high school story, what type of story would you tell? Ages 13 through 18 are so formative and I think there’s a lot of experiences to share and tell. I’d love to hear the stories you’d want to tell!