Here is my dilemma. Should I be writing young adult fantasy?
Before answering yes or no, this is not just a question about what works best for a story, my vision, or altering my writing to fill a niche.
I was raised on fantasy books. I think many children in my generation read the classic fantasy books. If not The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, they possibly read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I had to read both as school assignments.
So now that I am writing, fantasy has a homey feel. It’s the windows open, the ceiling fan humming, baked potatoes in the oven, and the dog sunbathing. Fantasy is my comfort food.
As a comfort food, I pick fantasy books up first. When in Barnes and Noble, I drift to the fantasy section first. Fantasy book covers catch my attention and leave me wondering. Magical realms let me escape.
I’ve recently joined a few query contests. In these contests, aspiring writers like myself pitch our manuscripts. I have diligently read each query posted by the other contestants, and I have come to a few conclusions.
One, I need to learn how to tighten my query. I’ll learn. Just give me time and guidance. Two, lots of people write young adult and/or fantasy books. Three, agents seem to be looking for middle grade or adult books.
Now, I have two works in progress. My critique circles are working through the story of Nik the alchemist/drug dealer/prostitute on the run from a bounty set by his brother. For the book 90 Days to your Novel, I am drafting a story about Joe who finds a bag jewels in a wreck from a flying car.
Here is my dilemma: Neither book is a true fantasy. By that I mean, the magic system does not play a crucial role in the plot.
Joe could easily find the jewels in a car abandoned on the road side and be obsessed with NASCAR instead of Sky Races. Nik’s brother could hate him for being his father’s favorite and good at chemistry instead of a genius at alchemy.
While I call my stories fantasy, generally they are closer to magical realism in that the magic is germaine to the community and not a plot issue. Because the changes are minor and I am still in the drafting phase, should I give up the fantasy element because it is me choosing meatloaf instead of trying the sushi, or do I stick with what I know?