So here I am, at the bright shiny beginning of NaNoWriMo and of writing my third young adult noir. There is so much promise here at the beginning, so much possibility, but also so much uncertainty and room for doubt. The struggles I now face are equal to and likely bigger than those I faced when writing book two in my series (I shared those fears a year ago here). There are worries over tone and character consistency that now has to stretch into a third book. There is the balancing act of how to stay familiar but also feel new. Perhaps the most daunting task of all: how to I properly send off protagonist Jamie Blake and neatly tie up her world?
By the third book, Jamie has entered her junior year of college, so the final book occurs four years after the first. To me, this means that the book needs to take on more of an adult tone. She is not an adult, by any means. I don’t think juniors in college could ever be considered adults (most days I don’t consider myself, almost twenty-eight, to be an adult). But a junior in college has a lot more life experience than a junior in high school, and certainly Jamie, as the main character in a noir series, has endured her toll of tragedy and come out stronger and perhaps more jaded than she was at the start of the series.
I plan to make two leaps in this book, one in setting and one in structure. In the first two novels, the plots happen entirely in Seattle, confined within the academic setting of a fictional private school and the University of Washington. I love Seattle as a neo-noir setting, but for the finale, I want to shake things up. This is why half of the story takes place on the nearby San Juan Island. This setting provides the same rainy and moody atmosphere as Seattle along with the tension of feeling trapped on an island, which lends itself perfectly to the plot–and the poor decisions some characters make. The other important change for me is to write this book with a bit different of a structure than the first two. Where the first two books employed flashback sparingly in an otherwise straightforward narrative, I’m going to have some fun switching back and forth between the present and the months leading up to the current circumstances. Part of the mystery of the book will come through the storytelling and the slow reveal of details, sort of like Memento but with less tattoos.
To carry on the tradition I started last year of utilizing the Scream franchise to help me with my book series, below is the scene from Scream 3 (a decidedly not good end to what could have been a great horror trilogy) that explains the rules of the trilogy. Let’s just say that in my third book, I have dug up something from book one that will come back to haunt the main characters. Nothing stays in the past.