Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Road trips: good publication material, or not?

A great road trip YA book
Writing about your road trip is great material for publication.

Or maybe not.

I love road trips and I asked you all to share your favorite road trip with me for my giveaway (which is still open through August 4. Want a chance to win seven newly released books, including Forever by Maggie Stiefvator or Jacob Wonderbar by Nathan Bransford? Leave a comment on that post telling me about your favorite road trip). I've loved reading everyone's responses so far! Mentioned several times were road trips along the Oregon coast and Maine coast - definitely added those to my road trip bucket list.

My friend Sophia pointed out that "road trips are a more universal coming of age thing in the US than they are in the UK". Didn't know that! There were lots of other interesting tidbits and opinions I learned from my commenters, too.

 So a road trip was definitely part of my coming-of-age experience. After I graduated from college I saved up my money and went on a 2 month trip from New York to Louisiana, across Texas, all over the southwest states and California, and back to New York via the Rockies, the Great Plains, and Chicago. My college friend and I would pitch a tent each night at a campground, and in the morning get out our map and decide where we wanted to go next.

We hit almost every National Park in the lower 48 states. I kept a detailed journal. It was an amazing experience and got me addicted to doing road trips every year (though not as long - a couple days to a week, and these days my family uses a pop-up camper instead of a tent).

Many other commenters also shared that the most memorable road trips were the ones with no schedule or plan, just deciding each day where to go.

So anyway, back to my point. Re-reading the journal of my road trip, there are lots of events and details that I can use for book ideas someday, or more specifically, for particular characters or scenes within a book.

But interestingly, a road trip by itself - I don't think that's great material for publication. Road trip memoirs are common and one would have to be exceptional to get published. Road trip fiction - your road trip would have to have a plot. And random roaming here and there is sort of plotless.

Unless: you're running away from something (think Thelma and Louise - amazing road trip movie!). Or someone's chasing you. The YA book that inspired me to take my cross-country road trip at age 22 is Madeleine L'Engle's The Moon by Night. It's about a 15 year old girl camping with her family across country (in one of those big ol' stationwagons before seat buckle and car seat laws!). What's the plot? At one of the first campgrounds they stay at, Vickie meets an older teen age boy who is traveling on his own for a mysterious reason. He shows up at the same campground they stay at the next night - and many more times - following her around the country - how romantic! What conflict with her parents! And then there's the mystery about why he's alone...

So anyway. Just some sort of random thoughts on road trips. Next week I'll be sharing more random thoughts - this time on horses, and why there are almost no YA horse stories, though tons and tons of MG horse stories. And also, why and how my daughter will be randomly picking the giveaway winners from horseback (grin) (we're a horse crazy family).

So what's your thought on road trips as the basis for fiction? Good idea, or not? Got any favorite road trip books?

PS. I just added "CommentLuv" to my comment form - if you enter the URL for your blog in the Comment Luv box, it will add your most recent post to your comment automatically (which means a chance for increased traffic to your blog). Also, my comment system allows you to choose whether to receive no replies, replies only to your comment, or everyone's comments. I usually reply to every comment I get, so if you like that sort of thing, look for the "Subscribe to" box below the comment box and choose "replies".

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