Monday, August 29, 2016

Channeling the Inner Teen

It may be a month behind schedule, but Hope is almost finished.  Only one major scene to go.  I’ve had the final scene for this book in my head for years.  It taunts me.  However, getting to the end has been the challenge.

I’ve had a few bumps when I started this book in the World In-between Series.  One, I needed a plot that gave a reason for the characters to be “there.”  Two, I needed a place to start.  Three, I had to change the tone to reflect the change in the point of view.

To overcome these, I looked more closely at the story I wove in the previous four books.  The plot came together nicely.  I started at the beginning, of course.  I set up the new point of view and the plot in chapter one.

“Miss Chase?  Are you with us today, Miss Chase?”
Tearing her eyes from the wooden ring resembling a flower on her pinky, Hope raised her head to look at her teacher who leaned against the metal desk left over from another decade.
“Good,” the teacher said with a patronizing smile.  Mrs. Kurlow always had one of those smiles at the ready.  Being the last class of the day, students’ minds drifted more than usual.  Of course, minds drifted in her classes at any time of the day just to get rid of her drawling voice that carried a smug air.  “I was hoping you would have the answer to the question I asked.”
The board behind the teacher gave no indication of the question.  The book sitting on the tiny writing platform that comprised her desk would have no answer.  “Forty-two,” Hope replied.

The change in tone had to reflect the life and mind of a seventeen-year-old girl.  In my daily life, I have no interaction with teenagers.  No nieces, no cousins, not even a neighbor.  However, as it happens, I was once a seventeen-year-old girl.

Staring out the window, Hope watched the streetlamps pass.  She did not want to add terrible rumors to her what-was-going-wrong-in-her-life list.  Something had to go right.  She sighed as Mike turned onto her uncle’s tree-lined street.
When he pulled into the driveway, he dared to say, “I don’t think anyone is home.”
Hope opened the car door.
Getting out of the car, Mike opened the trunk.  Hope snatched her bag from his hand.  Retrieving his coat, he followed her up the sidewalk.  “Hope,” he begged.
The stained glass door opened at her touch.  She entered the house, leaving Mike on the porch.  Without saying another word to him, she closed the door.

How do I tap into those feelings of being seventeen?  Seventeen catches one between child and adulthood.  At some point, decisions matter.  They determine a path down which one travels until the next fork.  It all hopefully leads to the answer of the ultimate question: Where do I belong in the world?

“Hope,” said Mike.
“Shhh,” she said.  She walked out the grove with Mike on her heels.  “I can’t believe you followed me here, of all places,” she muttered.  “I just want to be left alone.  Why can’t anyone understand that?”

The trivialities experienced at seventeen don’t matter.  As life marches forward, it is easy to forget those days.  You learn what you need and move on to the next lesson.  But if you stay true to the fundamental essence of “who am I?” and “where am I going?” mixed with “ugh school” and “oh my god everything’s so important at this very moment,” the elements you need to make a teenage character flow onto the page.

She held her hand up to quiet him.  Closing her eyes, she waited.  The rustling of underbrush found her ears.  She opened her eyes.  Stepping closer to Mike, she readied her bow under her cloak.  When two men with hard leather body armor emerged, the filtered moonlight shone across the embossed large tree with seven circles.  She lowered her bow.
“Tonight’s not a good night to hunt,” said one of the men.  “It’s not safe out here.”
“Have you come across anyone else?” asked the other.
“No,” Hope answered.
“Come with us.  We only have so long to get to safely inside.  The night is ripe for a Griffin.”
“Crap,” she said quietly.  With slumped shoulders, she followed with Mike by her side.
“Who are they?” he whispered.
“Empire Guard,” she replied.  “My whole weekend is ruined.”

All excerpts from Hope (The World In-between, 5), Chapter One: The Ultimate Question
Available winter 2016