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Advice needed on novella idea I’m kicking around (1 Viewer)

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TemForno

Member
I had an idea for a novella I’ve been thinking about (I’ve only short stories up to this point and I want to progress) and any outside opinions on it would be appreciated. It’s sort of young adult adventure. This is the basic concept:

Two teenagers (14-15 respectively) living in a minuscule mountain town (Pine CO) work together to find a rumored gold mine lost in the wilderness.
One is a boy who wants enough money to move his family back to Denver, as he dislikes their new home.
The other is a local girl who wants to prove the legends are true, and has found an old map that might lead them to the jackpot.
But tales of Native Americans who lived in the area warn that the mine’s secret is guarded by hellish demons, and locals who go in search of the gold never return. The bulk of the story is their adventure in the elements, wilderness survival, and uncovering the secrets of the lost mine. They also become better friends along the way, as well as—see resolution*
(Note: As far as the climax/reveal goes, there is certainly a immense threat surrounding the gold, but NOT one that is supernatural. I’d like to keep the climax/twists and turns under wraps for now). By the end they are rescued by forest rangers and are reunited with their families. The boy decides he doesn’t mind living in Pine now that he has a best friend, and the girl has decided to keep the truth away from the rest of the world because they’d never believe it, but she kept a small nugget of gold from the mine. I think by the end they’ve developed some feelings* for each other as well.

So those are the basics of the story. I also have a suitable title. Any thoughts? Should I pursue this?
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
It sounds interesting. Try roughing it out and filling it in on paper (or on your computer) - massage it a bit and see if it has legs.
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Yeah, sounds like a neat idea to me, too. Reminds me a lot of the movie Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, which has a similar concept of two teens going on a search for a legendary mine.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
I like that particular idea, and think it has a lot of promise. I would think that as long as the adventure portion doesn't get bogged down by too much dialogue, it could be a lot of fun in itself. Also, maybe coming up with a small backstory for the map and how the girl happened on it. I also agree with the fact that they would develop feelings for each other by the story's end. After that kind of adventure, it would certainly bring them closer together as a whole.

-JJB
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
This sounds similar to the juvenile adventures/mysteries I read in late grade school and Junior High. I don't know if you're considering that as the market, just commenting that's my experience with the sort of plot and characters you discussed. It's got that Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew/Three Investigators/Power Boys/Happy Hollisters feel to it. Possibly even Phyllis Whitney. A lot of her characters were displaced, dissatisfied teens.

There's absolutely no reason not to write that, just be sure of your intended market, and if it's juvenile, make sure your content is appropriate ... although a lot more probably goes in a juvenile these days than when I was reading them weekly. LOL Novella length certainly fits that market, so there is synergy there.

Not to step on JJ's toes, but when you have two characters isolated together, you can do a lot with dialogue, if you're up to writing clever dialogue and really sell those characters. I've got two books (first and sequel) where important characters are a teen boy and girl who wind up on their own filling important adventure roles, and the most fun I had at any time writing those books was their dialogue. I started looking forward to their next scene because they were so much fun to write dialogue for. It also served another purpose. If I was ever stuck for exactly what I wanted to happen next adventurewise, I'd get to their next scene and start writing their dialogue. It always led me to something interesting for their action. They'd get to planning their next move, and it would lead to something clever and/or quirky for them to try, not that their plans were reliably successful. ;-)

If you do write it, I'd be interested to read it. I still pull out a Hardy Boys from time to time to scratch a nostalgia itch.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
The problem that jumps out is that a novella generally caps at around 40,000 words and that's a little bit too short for young adult fiction, which typically runs 50,000 to 75,000 or sometimes a little more. Additionally, novellas are harder to sell and the YA market is more prescriptive so you have a fundamental, 'non-story' problem to worry about. Demons are great, but you may want to be a little wary of crossing a line regarding the subject matter.

This isn't to say it's a non-starter or anything. I do think the idea sounds quite interesting and adventure is generally a reliable genre for kids books. Some YA fiction does push a few boundaries and so long as the overall message is sufficiently appropriate for the age group, probably fine.

One thing I would say, which may sound a little counter-intuitive given the above, is that certain elements of this story actually sound a little bit 'young' for YA. Or maybe a better term is 'old fashioned'. This does sound a little Hardy Boys to me, which is totally not a bad thing, but increasingly YA books are about addressing contemporary issues affecting teenagers; exploring identity, sexuality, moral problems, etc.; basically trying to be a little more than just an adventure story. Your idea, as it stands, sounds very traditional. As in, I could imagine something like that being written in the fifties.

Which, to emphasize, is not necessarily a problem. But my suggestion would be to try to work really hard on making this feel modern and relevant to as many young people as possible. The setting is rather a-typical and the situation definitely is. So, one way to do this is to try to make your main character(s) really seem different from the stock characters of whitebread American boy-and-girl.

I'm not saying you should pander by making one of them some kind of obscure minority or anything, that's cheap, but make sure they have some kind of personal challenges that extend beyond "I wish I was living in Denver, it's boring out here" because that has been done to death, it's not a Real Problem. So, for example, maybe the new boy in town has a stutter and gets bullied a lot? Maybe the new girl has some kind of eating disorder or weird trauma or interesting hobby or whatever? Maybe the girl is the boyfriend or love interest of one of the town's bullies and there's your (human) antagonist? There needs to be more stakes than just the goldmine. It needs to be more ​human.

Totally up to you, but there are lots of ways to do this, just make sure it speaks to the type of reader you have in mind and offers more than just a spooky plot.
 

TemForno

Member
First off I’d like to thank you all for your kind words and constructive thoughts. This is my first time on the forum.
I’d be lying if I said that some of the unintentional similarities between my concept and the movie “Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain” didn’t make me nervous, but they say all stories have been told already, and this one just feels right.

As per your suggestion JJ, I do have a backstory for the map planned that will tie in directly with the climax. I definitely agree about that Hardy Boys influence, in the plot at least.

The girl is a nerdy (and slightly obsessive) tomboy who is mocked for chasing all the local legends and superstitions, and the boy is a cautious, reserved loner who has sat through life on the sidelines ever since his father died. Both are based on combinations of real people I know.

Not sure about the word count yet. Honestly I’d be satisfied if it got published on Amazon or something similar. We’ll see. I really want to write it for readers 12-15. The “demonic” threat is also really more cryptid based. Anyhow you have all helped me a great deal. If you have any more thoughts please let me know!
 
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vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Also the title I have decided on unquestionably is “Summer Legends”. Thoughts?

I like it. Make it "Summer Legends: xxxx xxxxxx", then if you decide to write more in that vein, it's the name of the series. ;-) Great name for a series.

And regarding the forum, members here are accommodating and helpful. I'm a refugee from another well-known writers forum which is not. I got so disgusted with it I started searching for an alternative, found this one, and am quite happy I did.

Writers tend to be people who think for themselves. In fact, I don't believe someone who can't think for themself is going to produce anything worth reading. On the forum I left, if you're not in lockstep with the narrow opinions of the people who run the forum, it's big trouble. LOL
 
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TemForno

Member
vranger I agree, good idea. I do kind of have ideas for two other adventures the main characters could have, so if the first book works out who knows
 
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