Cat Kalen

Please welcome the wonderful PJ Sharon!
Monday, February 6th, 2012
Filed under This & That

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?




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21 comments to “Please welcome the wonderful PJ Sharon!”

  1. pj sharon
    February 6th, 2012 at 2:52 pm · Link

    Thanks for having me Cat. To leave comments or ask questions, go to the “say something” at the top of this page. I will check in and respond a few times throughout the day.

  2. Pam Callow
    February 6th, 2012 at 5:22 pm · Link

    Hi PJ,

    I enjoyed reading about how each of your protagonists have such different stories, and yet each would obviously be very inspiring for YA readers. I will have to get your books for my daughter.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • pj sharon
      February 6th, 2012 at 6:01 pm · Link

      Thanks, Pam. That is truly my goal in writing and publishing these stories. I’m sure I’m not alone as an author who has had some tough life lessons come through on the page. It’s a great way to impart some wisdom while still being engaging to young readers. Is love to hear how your daughter likes the books. Have her follow me on Facebook and keep in touch.

  3. Cat Kalen
    February 6th, 2012 at 6:03 pm · Link

    Thanks for stopping by to say hello, Pam. I think your daughter would definitely enjoy PJ’s books!

  4. jennie marsland
    February 6th, 2012 at 6:58 pm · Link

    Great post, ladies! PJ, your books sound really inspiring. Best of luck with them!

  5. Anne MacFarlane
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:10 pm · Link

    Your characters sound really intriguing, PJ.

    I hadn’t thought of giving my contemporary characters gifts and talents before.

    • pj sharon
      February 6th, 2012 at 7:44 pm · Link

      Thank you, Anne. In real life, each of us has gifts and talents that make us unique. It’s fun to use those things in fiction to create unique characters that we can relate to.

  6. Paula Altenburg
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:16 pm · Link

    PJ, what advice would you give to an aspiring YA author, and what do you find the most rewarding aspect of writing in the genre?

    • pj sharon
      February 6th, 2012 at 7:52 pm · Link

      Hi Paula. As far as advice goes, I think anyone writing YA should spend some time reading it. There are so many great YA stories and you can learn a lot about writing by reading for character, plot, dialogue, and style. Which leads to what I love most about writing in the genre. YA is so diverse. You can really write about anything, and the teen experience is so full of emotion and passion. There is a lot of freedom in YA and I love being able to infuse my stories with valuable lessons that might influence teens in a positive way.

  7. Julianne MacLean
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:34 pm · Link

    Enjoyed the blog PJ. I must give some thought to my current wip and give my heroine a more noteworthy talent. I’m glad I read this today. You really gave me some food for thought while in the middle of the first draft. Thank you!

    • pj sharon
      February 6th, 2012 at 7:53 pm · Link

      Excellent Julianne. Glad it helped. Timing is everything, right?

  8. Ann Cameron
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:36 pm · Link

    Hi PJ. It’s interesting to see how you decide who you want your characters to be and then give them unique gifts and talents to help each of them work through the problems they’re faced with in the story.
    I love the cover of On Thin Ice!

    • pj sharon
      February 6th, 2012 at 8:00 pm · Link

      Thanks Anne. My husband does my covers and I have to say, I love this one too!

      Just to let you know, I don’t necessarily decide the gifts ahead of time. It’s one of those weird intuitive things I think comes organically out of understanding the character’s goal, motivation and conflict, and figuring out what their fatal flaw is. Once I know what they are facing, I can come up with a talent that best suits the character and the story.

  9. Alicia Street
    February 6th, 2012 at 7:39 pm · Link

    Great post, PJ! Both books are definitely on my TBR list now!

    • pj sharon
      February 6th, 2012 at 8:04 pm · Link

      Fantastic Alicia. I hope you love the stories and characters as much as I do. Just make sure you keep a few tissues handy.

  10. Renee Pace
    February 6th, 2012 at 8:46 pm · Link

    Great blog PJ. So true what you said. All our YA characters have gifts. In my Off Leash, nitty gritty YA, even my angry teen, Jay had a gift – compassion and while he struggled with trying to do right he did make mistakes, which is what teens do. So love your writing. 😆

  11. Bev Pettersen
    February 6th, 2012 at 11:42 pm · Link

    Enjoyed the blog. Definitely going to check out your books:)

    • pj sharon
      February 7th, 2012 at 1:47 am · Link

      Thank you, Bev. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Heidi Hamburg
    February 7th, 2012 at 12:42 pm · Link

    I like the idea of designing the setting and minor characters to support and make believable the heroine’s gifts and talents, and the way she uses them.

    • PJ Sharon
      February 8th, 2012 at 1:14 am · Link

      Thank you Heidi, for stopping by and leaving a comment.