Sequel Update: Dealing With One Pesky Bad Boy

Jax Teller

As mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t felt like writing anything pertaining to the Twisted sequel lately. I thought that if I got my suspicions on why I didn’t feel like writing off my chest that it would help me, well, write something. Lo and behold, within a day or two of writing that post, my mojo returned. Sort of. However, it wasn’t the maniac, free flow that I was hoping for. Instead, the flow trickled; a sentence here, finesse as paragraph there. After doing that for a while, new ideas and scenes flooded my imagination and I sketched them out as best as I could at the time. While in the process of doing that, I once again focused on one of my main characters, which is not AJ (teaser!).

He’s the new guy on the block. He’s the inspiration behind the bad boys post (I see him as a personality combination of T.I. and “Jax Teller”, hence why I used Jax’s picture above) and he is still monopolizing my time. Poor AJ can barely utter a word before rude, obnoxious, and pretty damn… demanding “mystery man” inserts himself into the conversation. After enduring hours of his pestering, I finally relented to his demands and told more of the story from his POV. Still, he’s not happy with the time I’ve given him. He’s arguing that I’m not portraying his character well enough to the audience (“What audience?” I asked him. He crossed his arms over his chest and replied, “Just wait. You’ll see.” I love his confidence.) He thinks the story would be more compelling if I tell it strictly from his POV, to hell with AJ. He had his time in the first story. When I counter that there are people out there who like AJ and would like to see what happens to him from his perspective, he shuts me down, demanding that I keep spilling his prose on the pages. It’s his turn to shine, so he says. Well damn! What’s a girl to do? I’m over halfway through the story (I think) and if I were to tell it solely from his perspective, I’d have to do some major scene reconstruction (and omissions). Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m down for that. I really want to be done with this first draft. With that being said, I’m sure the story would pour out of me faster since he’s so damn demanding. He’d surely yak my ear off until the story is finished.

Now, I’m faced with a dilemma: should I keep the story in its current form (alternating POV between AJ and “mystery bad boy”), or should I tell the story entirely from said bad boy’s perspective? I’d love to hear feedback, especially from those of you who have read Twisted. Don’t act shy. I know Twisted readers stop by the blog! Should I cave to the demands of the “mystery guy”, or should I give AJ space to tell his story as well? Leave your comments below or find me on social media.

 

Character Development 2

I was asked by a reader to post another character “interview.” I decided to share Colton Hunter’s. Check out his Q&A below:

I picture Colton Hunter as a modern day Don Draper type, but with blond and gray streaked hair.

I picture Colton Hunter as a modern day Don Draper type, but with blond and gray streaked hair.

Colton Hunter Q&A:

The man entered the room carrying a small Styrofoam cup of liquid. His wore a navy blue tailored suit with a crisp white shirt. His dark brown shoes were immaculately buffed. Steam drifted from the cup as the man glanced at the interviewer. “This is this is the right place.” He says as he gently closed the door behind him. He smiled brightly at the interviewer. “Should I have a seat across from you at this table?” The interviewer smiled and nodded toward the chair. The man crossed the room and placed his cup on the table before pulling back the chair. He smoothly lowered himself in the chair and crossed his right leg over his left. He lifted the cup to his lips and sipped his drink. “Ah, nothing beats a good, strong cup of coffee.” He placed the cup back on the table before crossing his hands in front of the cup. His nails were just as neat and buff as his shoes. A glimmer of something shiny briefly flashed on his left wrist under his sleeve. Not a single strand of hair on his head was out of place. The man smiled at the interviewer. “Well friend, shall we begin?”

 Interviewer: Who are you?

Colton Hunter: [The man smiled] My name is Colton Hunter. I am the owner and founder of Hunter Industries. [He chuckled] I am sure you knew that once I walked through that door.

 Interviewer: What do you want more than anything Mr. Hunter?

 CH: Hmm… I think I have most of everything that I want. I’ve been very fortunate in my line of work.

Interviewer: Most of everything? Could you please explain?

CH: [He smiled before he took another sip of his coffee] Yes friend. Most. I’d love another boat, but that would just be greedy. [He winked at the interviewer before returning the cup to the table]

Interviewer: Come on Mr. Hunter. There must be something you want that’s more momentous than a boat. Even someone who seemingly has it all must still want more.

CH: Yes, one would think. However, like I stated, I’ve been very, very fortunate in my life. I’ve achieved my success with good old-fashioned hard work, [he paused] and admittedly with a bit of influence.

Interviewer: Influence?

CH: Yes. Influence. Once you’ve achieved my pinnacle of success, there is a certain level of clout, or influence, that naturally comes with the territory.

Interviewer: Sounds like influence is important to you since you mentioned it. [A moment of silence pervaded the room before the interviewer continued] Is that important to you Mr. Hunter? Would you want more influence?

CH: [He leaned back in his chair, placing his hands on his right thigh] Is this Q and A session on or off the record?

Interviewer: Off

CH: [He stared at the interviewer as he carefully decided which words to use] Since we are being candid, I’ll admit that having and maintaining influence is tantamount to maintaining my level of success. A myriad of fortuitous opportunities tend to fall my way due to my level of influence.

Interviewer: Is that more so due to influence or would you say due to power? From what you’ve just said I think it’s fair to say the words could be used interchangeably.

CH: [He flashed a wide grin] You tell me my friend. It’s your observation.

Interviewer: I’ll defer to you. I’m not the one being interviewed.

CH: Hmm. No. I think I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. What’s your next question?

 Interviewer: Ok. Since I’m drawing my own conclusions, how far would you go to keep your power?

 CH: [He heartily laughed. The interviewer patiently waited until Hunter’s laughter subsided] In keeping with your extrapolation, if I hypothetically wanted to maintain power, I think I’d do anything to keep it.

Interviewer: Anything?

CH: Yes. Anything. [He flashed another grin] Wouldn’t you since I’d assume power is… addictive, for lack of a better word. [He held up his hands] But what do I know? [He placed his hands back in his lap]

 Interviewer: Well, Mr. Hunter, why is power so important?

 CH: [He slightly raised his eyebrows] If we look at this from a purely philosophical perspective, power is somewhat analogous to control, right? So, once you have established power and therefore control over something, or even someone in some instances, then you have complete domination. You are free to do what you will with no objection. I’m assuming that must be a rush!

Interviewer: Even if that entails hurting people?

CH: [He shrugged] We all can’t be winners. Life is dichotomous; on the topic of power, there are few who have it and many more who do not have it. People get roughed up from time to time in order to maintain or establish power.

 Interviewer: Oh, ok. Um, how do you feel about the people in your life?

 CH: Everyone serves a purpose.

Interviewer: That sounds harsh.

CH: [He slightly tilted his head to the side] No. Maybe it does on the surface but not if you think about it. You have people who serve as lovers, people who serve as friends, people who serve as role models, etcetera. I think most everyone can relate to those relationships. With that being said, it’s fair to say that all those relationships serve a purpose in a one’s life.

Interviewer: That’s a mechanical way of looking at things. How do you feel about those people who fill those spaces in your life?

CH: So far I’m content.

Interviewer: Care to elaborate?

CH: No. I’d like to maintain an air of mystique. People are too open now. There’s no fun without mystery?

Interviewer: You live a high profile life.

CH: Yes and yet I show what I want to show. [He winked]

 Interviewer: Final question; how do you feel about yourself?

 CH: [Another wide grin] I love me and I am proud of all that I’ve achieved in my life. [He stood and smoothed the few wrinkles out of his pants and jacket] Well my friend, this was rather enjoyable. We should do this again sometime. [He grabbed his cup of coffee from the table and quietly exited the room]

Character Development

Twisted Greens 600x1200 promo baner

What makes an interesting story? Is it the plot? The characters? I think it’s a little bit of both. After all, could you truly have a dynamic story if the plot is banging, but the characters suck or vice versa? While in the process of writing Twisted, I stumbled upon a writing exercise that I found pretty helpful in flushing out who my characters are. This entailed getting to know their mannerisms, how they speak, and how they think. I documented all of these observations into an “interview.” Before I knew it, I discovered more about my characters than I thought I would. I’ve posted AJ’s “interview” below. If you’re interested in other character interviews they’re under the Twisted Greens tab. How do you dig deeper into your characters? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or find me on social media:

Alistair Davis Jameson (AJ) Q&A:

The tall young man walked into the room wearing a pair of basketball shorts, an old shirt, and a pair of sneakers covered in bits of grass and mud. He slouched down in the metal chair across the table and sighed. He ran his fingers through his shaggy dark brown hair in an effort to clear his line of vision. His hazel eyes briefly glanced around the room before turning their attention to the interviewer. His expression was blank, fingers interlaced as his hands rested on the table. He shook his leg as he waited to see if the interviewer would speak first. The young man and the interviewer stared at each other as each second ticked by. Finally, the young man folded his arms in front of his chest. He took a deep breath. “I heard you have some questions for me,” he said. “I kind of need to speed this up. I have an errand to run.”

Interviewer: Who are you?

AJ: Is this a real question dude? [He huffed] You know who I am. You’re the one who called me in here.

Interviewer: For the record please.

AJ: [He rolled his eyes] Fine. My name is AJ, but I’m sure you’d like my entire legal name, right? It’s Alistair Davis Jameson Jr.

Interviewer: Thank you AJ. Now, What do you want more than anything?

AJ: Wow. [He smirked] That’s a loaded question. Are you looking for generic answers like world peace or do you want a real answer?

Interviewer: You tell me AJ.

AJ: [He paused for a moment while briefly glancing at the ceiling] It can only be one thing?

Interviewer: Yes.

AJ: [He scratched his chin] Well shit, if it’s just one thing, I’d have to say success earned by my own two hands.

Interviewer: Care to elaborate?

AJ: [He grinned] Come on! You know me! You know who I am and who my parents are. [He leaned across the table] I think you know what I mean. [He smiled as he shook his head while waiting for the interviewer to respond. He leaned back, one arm propped on the back of the chair] Seriously? [He asked after a moment of silence] Damn, this must be how Dr. Alice’s patients feel in a session with her. [He stopped smiling. He quickly shook his hair out of his eyes] I want to build my own successes without help from my parents. I don’t want their kind of success. There, are you happy?

Interviewer: What do you mean by “their kind of success?”

AJ: [He smirked] I’ll just say that the success they achieved didn’t make them happy or better people.

 Interviewer: How far would you go to be successful?

 AJ: [He smiled] Damn near anything, but I don’t want my parents’ assistance. I want to learn and figure shit out on my own and in my own way.

Interviewer: Why is success so important to you?

AJ: Dude, I don’t think anyone walks around wanting to be a failure. I’m no exception. I just don’t want my parents involved.

Interviewer: You keep saying you don’t want your parents’ help, yet your mother is a pretty successful psychiatrist and your father had a successful business.

AJ: Yeah, well, professional success isn’t everything and my father’s business didn’t turn out too well.

Interview: Ok. Your answer leads into the next question; how do you feel about the people in your life?

AJ: [He threw his hands in the air before running them through his hair] Jesus dude! Did Dr. Alice hire you to ask all this? I mean is she trying to covertly figure out what I’m thinking, where my head is? [He sat up straighter and took a deep breath before returning is hands to the table] Everyone is cool. Ok? I’ve got a great girlfriend. I’ve got a cool friend. My dad is trying to get back on his feet. My mother is successful, as you pointed out, and my sister is doing just peachy in law school. [He counted his fingers as he listed the people in his life] I think that covers all the important people.

Interviewer: That doesn’t answer the question. How do you feel about all those people you just named?

AJ: [Indistinct mumbling as he leaned forward in his chair. He stared icily into the interviewers eyes] What is the point of all these questions?

Interviewer: Answer the question please. The quicker you answer the quicker you can leave.

AJ: [He sighed as he leaned back into the chair. He shifted his weight and repositioned is hands into the pockets of his shorts] I love Savannah, my girlfriend, a lot. I’d do anything for her. I also love my parents. By far I’m closer to my dad than my mother. I feel that’s he’s a more genuine person than my mother could ever be. He’s very vulnerable; especially in light of this Owen Chandler shit. At the same time, I feel as though my dad can be a bit weak at times, even before shit hit the fan. He’s definitely dramatic, which I think clouds his judgment and ability to see things through. [He paused as he stared into the distance]  I don’t want to ever be weak like him. [He looked down at the table. A slow grin spread across his face] Now where my father lacks in personality, my mother more than makes up for it. I mean fuck! Talk about overbearing! [He laughed] My sister, Sage, is cool. We don’t talk as much since she moved away for law school. She’s my mother ‘s perfect child. Ethan, my friend is cool too. He kind of reminds me of my dad at times. I mean, with the theatrics and all. He can be pretty damn dramatic at times.

Interviewer: Do you not get along with your mother?

AJ: It’s complicated, you’d understand if you really knew her. I hope you ask her all this shit you’ve asked me. [He paused and shrugged] Lets just say she wanted me to play tennis and I wanted to do karate.

Interviewer: Care to elaborate?

AJ: [He rubbed the bridge of his nose with his left thumb and forefinger] Again, it’s complicated. [He sighed] I’m just not the son she could mold into the masculine version of herself. I don’t do everything she tells me to do, like Sage. I don’t want to be a lawyer, or any other bullshit professional for that matter. I don’t want to go into real estate with my father. I didn’t want to play tennis, golf, or lacrosse. I don’t dress the way she wants me to dress. I don’t date the girls she approves. The list goes on. [He rubbed his forehead before placing is hands flat against the table] I just want to be my own man and she can’t stand that.

Interviewer: One last question, how do you feel about yourself?

 AJ: [He sat back in the chair, folding his arms confidently across his chest. A sly grin spread across his face] I think I’m one smart, cool ass dude. I’ll get what I want on my own terms. [He paused] Are we done now? I really need to go.

On Twisted Greens…

Twisted Greens 3D Render

Around 2013, job furlough was imminent and I was stressing about what to do. As a stress reliever, I dived deeper into writing. Let’s face it, writing’s one of the healthier means of escape as opposed to other options. One source I drew inspiration from was cable news.

I believe that around this time, legalization of weed was a hot topic on just about every cable news cycle because Colorado was set to legalize the recreational use it. That got me thinking: Man, if I had some weed to sell, I could make a good chunk of change in Colorado. Hmm, what if someone had access to a ton of weed? They’d make a killing! What if they grew it, say in their backyard? Ah ha! I coalesced those two ideas and out popped a rough sketch of my protagonist, AJ. Ok. Cool, but how can I make him more interesting? I wanted to throw some complexities in the mix. So, I made him young, fresh out of high school and on the cusp of beginning his adult life. Instead of having him pressed for cash, let’s make him rich and come from an affluent family. Great! So, I have AJ and I know a little bit about his background, now how can I complicate his life? I know! Let’s have his father stumble upon his weed in the woods behind the house! Upon finding the stash, instead of admonishing AJ, he does something unexpected because he’s harboring a secret of his own. Bam! Now we have the makings of an interesting story.

After I had the general storyline mapped out, I decided that I wanted to dig deeper. I wanted to add more to it. I wanted something more than just a flat out thriller centered on a father and son dynamic. Once again, cable news was inspiring. This time, race relations was a hot topic (and continues to be so). I already knew I wanted to make my weed dealing protagonist a young white male since he would be (stereotypically) unassuming to law enforcement and could conduct “business” unimpeded. However, I didn’t want to write a story where all the characters were physically identical. That’s boring and not representative of society. I wanted something more dynamic, more colorful.

Granted, almost every character in Twisted Greens is relatively of the same racial/socioeconomic background; mostly everyone is white and rich. That makes sense. Folks interact with others who are similar to them. With that being said, that trend breaks down a little when you dissect society by class; affluent black and brown families exist just as do poor white families. In order to highlight this point, I decided to make his girlfriend (Savannah) black and make his good friend/business partner (Ethan) Asian. I consciously wanted both of these supporting characters to emphasize class distinction. Let’s take a closer look.

Savannah lives in AJ’s subdivision. Both of her parents are corporate lawyers and she attends the same private school as AJ. They have access to  similar resources and are both set on pathways toward successful futures. Essentially, the only difference between Savannah and AJ is their skin tone. Now Ethan, on the other hand, represents another socioeconomic strata, arguably one to which most could relate. Ethan is a college student trying to make it without the financial help of family. In order to survive, he sells for AJ in addition to living off refund checks he receives from excess financial aid. The fact that AJ recruits Ethan to sell for him raises a bunch of other implications that, if you really want to dig deeper, you could. But, I’ll let the reader mull over those possibilities.

Now of course, you could completely ignore all the aforementioned stuff above and take the story at face value; it’s a thriller about a young rich man who sells weed and subsequently gets caught up in some drama. But, for those who would like to dive a little deeper, perhaps knowing my inspirations behind the story are a good starting place. As always, let me know your thoughts by clicking on the comment bubble next to the headline above.

 

– Stephanie