I don’t know how teen readers, though, will respond to the eventual revelation that the MC they’re aligned their hearts and minds with isn’t who and what they thought in terms of AGE. It could either work out totally brilliantly or totally flop, IMHO. I mean, the first romance writer who thought, hmm, let me make the romantic hero a dead person who sucks blood… probably got some deep pushback. Now, it’s a staple.
I do mention in chapter 1 that she spent time Underhill, but I don’t really go into what that /means/ yet. I have a plan for an epilogue or mentioning in the falling action that she needs to go talk to the elves she spent time with. … Other than that she remembers that she was there, and not much about the experience. In her mind, she’s still a 14 year old with only the experience of a 14 year old. She won’t get her memories back all at once, either, but this is one of the reasons I’m waffling on the age-range thing. Older teens (like I was when I read something similar) will probably still be interested if they liked the first book, and readers in their 30’s or older (higher numbers than MidGrade) will probably see an escapist thing where they have an “oh if I could go back knowing what I know now” situation. At least that’s the idea…
You note properly–CONTRASTS. In opening scenes, you need to focus more on moving things forward rather than just description. Use the setting, as I said, as part of what moves things forward. Or highlights pending issues. Since this current “home” isn’t up to par (in her mind) with the others, there could be ways to use that to ramp up tension.
Now I have ideas for when she goes back to get stuff. Part of my Make it Worse: the bad guy has broken into her apartment and stolen Stuffy, something that couldn’t have happened if they’d lived in their other houses because there were always nosy neighbors around instead of “mind your own business” apartments next door, or they were allowed to change the locks or had other freedoms that came with renting from a person instead of a real-estate manager or company.
I could also work that into the first chapter so it’s more of a callback when she returns to find the break-in. I’ll have to be careful not to make her sound whiny.
Author of Renn and The Springfield Chronicles