Gifts and Talents
Thanks for inviting me today, Cat. I thought I would talk to your readers about the importance of giving our characters gifts and talents. How do we come up with the superpowers our characters possess? And why is it so important to choose the right one? This doesn’t just apply to paranormal and supernatural beings. Even in contemporary YA fiction, the gifts and talents of our characters speak volumes about who they are.
When I created Jordie Dunn, my heroine from Heaven Is For heroes, I wanted to make her a strong, kick-butt girl that readers could admire and look up to. She had to be tough to deal with the loss of her brother and even tougher to break through Coop’s wall of stubborn self-pity. I needed a seventeen year-old girl who was mature, independent, and had some skills that could somehow help our hero in his development and recovery. So I set Jordie up with a mentor who was ex-military, a mother who was emotionally MIA (so that Jordie would have to stand on her own), and I gave her a reason to have trained in martial arts and holistic healing. Of course, I used many of my own experiences to create Jordie’s character, but as she developed, it became clear that her gifts were necessary to make the story work.
Likewise, Penny, in On Thin Ice was a competitive figure skater. If you’ve ever engaged in a sport that requires intense training, you know that it takes sacrifice, hard work, and commitment. These characteristics were essential to Penny’s character. Her talent sets the stage for making it believable that she was mature enough to handle the rocky road I laid out for her. It also allowed me to touch on issues like bulimia that are so prevalent in competitive athletes.
In my upcoming release, Savage Cinderella, Brinn Hathaway is kidnapped, held captive for nearly two years and then beaten and left for dead in a shallow grave in the mountains. How could a ten year-old survive in the wilderness, you ask? Suspension of disbelief is part of every story. We authors need to convince our readers that the journey our characters make is plausible. I set the story in North Georgia so that the elements wouldn’t necessarily be impossible to overcome. At ten years old, she reads well and uses books not only for her survival but for companionship. If I’d made the character any older, it might be harder to reconcile why she would believe her captor’s claims that her parents were dead and that the police would lock her away if they found her. Brinn is the only child of a Senator turned District Attorney, and a woman who is head of a Pediatric Oncology unit. This sets you up to think that maybe Brinn is inherently smarter than the average bear. And speaking of bears, I gave her some interesting friends who help her survive along the way. Whether the story is convincing or not, the journey she takes from beginning to end is made plausible through the gifts she is given.
So when you are writing or reading your next story, see if you can uncover the reason behind the superpower, the gift, or the talent of the main characters. What does it say about who they are? How does it shape and influence their journey?
Who is your favorite character? Does their power, gift, or talent help them on their journey? And how would they be different if they didn’t have it?
Buy Links for HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES
ON THIN ICE
Buy Links for ON THIN ICE
Contact Information for PJ Sharon
Book Trailers for Heaven is for Heroes and On Thin Ice: http://www.youtube.com/pjsharon64
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