Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Currently indulging my ears with "Made for You" by a favorite:  One Republic

Forbidden fruit. We don't want it until we're told we can't have it. Soon the forbidden turns from a craving, to an obsession. What about when our characters are tempted with "forbidden fruits"....tangible wants kept out of reach? How do they react? Does their want turn to a need because they are told they can't have or do something, or do they suddenly turn introspect and listen to their conscience? Does our "world building" have an influence on how they handle the precarious elements surprising them throughout the story? Words of wisdom from someone in their current or back story helping them through the maze?

As authors, we create the character, the dilemma, and the solution, but somewhere between plotting and writing, the characters come to life. Their voices are loud in our heads, telling us that what we plotted for Chapter 7, isn't happening. They start getting their own ideas...developing their individual arcs as well as how they want to navigate the labyrinth we've established.

Those outside the writer's mind desperately wanting you to create the appropriate story (especially in Young Adult lit), suggest "just write them doing what you want them to do." Like children, our characters can be stubborn. Tell them they "can't" and they'll find a way to make it happen, jumping outside all the neat little lines we created on the plotting graph, often times, doing something inappropriate.

In world-building Designer Genes:

Marli is raised in suburbia America, but her home life is not conventional. Mom and Dad have split, her brother killed in the army, leaving her an only child. She leads a semi-normal life, attending public schools, bonding with girlfriends and swapping spit with her high school boyfriend. She's stubborn, a bit insecure, and trusts no one, outside of her father. To Marli, life is full of shades of gray.

Jordan comes from a powerful, affluent family. His mouth is shaped to the silver spoon he was born with. He's attended private schools since he shunned diapers for tweed knickers and leather loafers. But he doesn't act spoiled. Raised unconventionally as well, with two parents, but an absentee father due to his line of work, Jordan is loyal to his family. Goal oriented and driven, he's his own worst enemy. Life is black and white.

Jesse, Jordan's nemesis and twin brother, raised in the exact same environment, is a rebel rouser. To him, the world is colored brightly, and rules are made to be broken, or stretched to the ultimate limits, keeping just this side of a felony. He and Jordan are the classic "right brain-left brain" twin concept. Jordan rules his decisions with his head, while Jesse's wild heart leads his. Until they both meet Marli. I think we know what "leads" now.

A publisher interested in Designer Genes asked me if my characters had premarital sex. She said she would have a problem with that, if it were the case. ("Censorship" flashed in my brain.) The idea, the want for the "forbidden fruit" is the burning link between my characters, and the tension is the driving force of the romance. Only when the opportunity presents itself without any strings attached do my characters make their own decision. The fruit dangles within reach, the consumption undetectable. Do they "partake?"

World-building Riley's Pond was different. No futuristic elements or government control to deal with. Riley's, Jaxson's, and Taylor's world is here and now, filled with existing problems and raging hormones. Riley and Jaxson are brothers, raised in a small town. I gave them a stable home environment, with a father who is the local sheriff, making the lines between "right and wrong" clear and concise.

But Jaxson changes my story immediately by making himself the "bad boy." Riley's Pond opens with a consequence of one of Jaxson's choices, forcing Riley to decide his own life path. When Taylor arrives surrounded in mystery and waist deep in the pond, Riley lets his hormones decide and begins "the hunt," pursuing her with one goal in mind. Jump her bones. So when the forbidden fruit is handed out, does he take a bite? Share it with Taylor? Or does Jaxson steal the fruit first?

Our characters have morals and make decisions accordingly. Sometimes they're not the best choices and the consequences become a learning experience for the character and author, making a great story for the reader. One thing I've learned...there's no expiration date on "forbidden fruit," and it comes in all "flavors." It never ages, and is just as sweet or sour today as it was "in the beginning...."

Later friends...I'm off to the "orchard!"  Harley Brooks off looking for Joelene who never stands still

Today's Thought:  When travelling life's path you stumble over a rock, move it aside so someone following behind doesn't fall and get hurt.

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