Today I’m excited to welcome Jenna Victoria as she shares some writing advice. Read through to the end to see how you can enter to win a giveaway copy of “Love Among the Lilacs”.
Thanks to a recent bout of insomnia, I found myself oddly riveted to back-to-back episodes of the reality show, Hoarders: Buried Alive. I was transfixed until almost 3 a.m.
This was surprising for many reasons – besides the fact that I like my sleep – as I am not a fan of reality shows as a rule. Add to this the “ick” factor of seeing walls coated with black mold and mouse droppings appear close-up on camera and, well, I normally couldn’t change the channel fast enough.
To my bleary-eyed amazement, five episodes later (yes, my name is Jenna and I now am a hoarder TV show addict), I dragged my tired self to bed. When I woke up – I had made some interesting connections from the show to the craft of characterization in our books, and as a writer in general
First, it’s all about the set up. I was drawn in with their underlying personal issues. What placed them on the pathway of this hoarding disorder? Each of them expressed a pivotal moment in their lives that launched them into gathering mountains of trash and gripping tight. One man expressed how his father hated him, and had taken back a train set he’d given his son, to pay bills. He vowed nobody would ever take away his possessions again. Another woman shared how her parents disliked her and her grandmother came and got her one day and brought her home to live with her. She idolized her grandma and kept everything intact in that home for fifty years.
The show was compelling because of this “WHY.” Whatever has wounded our Hero or Heroine or Villain, whatever provides the reader with an extra layer of internal conflict, needs to be compelling enough to help keep them turning those pages.
Second, our character’s actions and dialogue have to make sense to that character. Even though a hoarder’s behavior makes no sense to their family or friends, it makes perfect sense to the hoarder. When faced with a monumental cleanup, with six trash haulers standing by to cart trash away — the hoarder concentrated on the minutia. They may spend four hours going through one small box. They exist through their possessions. If it is taken away, they fear they will cease to “be.”
In our stories, as well, our main characters need to say and do things which make sense to them. It may not seem logical to others in the book, but the reader can sense when the hero or heroine is not behaving true to themselves.
Lastly, is the Happily Ever After believable? I was not encouraged that any of these hoarders would find their way out of their mess. Most of the shows ended with children being taken away, divorce, homes being condemned and in some cases, the hoarder becomes homeless. At best, the show provided a small band-aid for a massive hemorrhage. It didn’t ring true.
As we write, whatever HEA or resolutions to the conflicts are — they need to work for the long-term, and work into who our main characters are at the beginning of the novel, and in the arc of change for them at the end.
I hope you found this guest post helpful. It was a bit too helpful for me.
Right now I have to go and clear off my desk. I may have some compulsive hoarding tendencies of my own to clear up!
Readers, leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a copy of Love Among the Lilacs- winner’s choice of ebook, print or audiobook. (Limited to US residents only, please.)
From Homeless to Heartache
Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk.
Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter.
Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking.
Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is where your heart is?
Jenna Victoria is a multi-published author who lives in the northeast US. She is married, with no children, and counts Walt Disney World as her second home. Being a rabid reader since clutching her first library card (with the overdue book fines to prove it) Jenna enjoys stories from a wide variety of authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and in many genres (romance, suspense & mystery). She also reads stand-alone devotionals and books on Christian theology. After her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, several re-occurrences and incurable metastasis since then, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books as long as He gives her breath.