Clearly, your best friend is not an English PhD who teaches writing. Lucky me.
I couldn't have kept going with this "crazy writing idea" without her support, which has been extensive. Her advice and suggestions have been invaluable, but there's not enough room on the interwebz for me to share it all, so I'll stick with two.
One: BFF doesn't read YA. Hell, she barely has time to read for fun, period-- she's working on a dissertation. But I was terrified that she would look down on me for writing it. I should have known better, obviously, but it was a fear.
Anyway, I was stressing over something early in this process, and she said, "Look. I think you went into this thinking that because it was young adult, it would somehow be easier. But it's not." She wasn't the one looking down on my choice. I was. I slapped myself around and haven't doubted for a second since that she's behind me 100%.
Two: My writing process starts with a "dialogue spine." I had a scene that had taken shape that way, but never developed past two character blabbering at each other. BFF didn't have a specific suggestion for what to fix, and knowing me as she does, suggested an analytical approach that has helped with many other scenes since:
"Go back through and identify (via list, colored highlighters, whatev) three or four kinds of things this chapter is currently providing: 1) basic information the reader needs, 2) basic information each character needs (but that the reader already has), 3) specific character developments, 4) plot advancing events. Categories 1 and 2 are probably almost all dialogue. Category three should be subdivided by dialogue or action (gestures reveal character, after all). There may be more categories than that. Anyway, once you’ve got those specific goals in mind, try a couple of things.
1) Imagine you have been forced to cut ½ of everything 1-3 in this chapter, while keeping anything from category 4. Where else in the surrounding chapters could you accomplish those goals?
2) Instead of #1, you have to keep this chapter basically as is, but change ½ of the information (categories 1-2) currently conveyed through dialogue to be conveyed through action, gesture, implication, allusion, etc.
3) Plot advancing events: congress passes a law such that you can’t advance the plot in that way. You have to get from point A to point B in a fundamentally different route. Whacha gonna do?"
See? She's kind of a genius.
Also, when combined, we are an unstoppable force at Pictionary.
Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.