Writing by the Pair
Have you ever wondered why shoes come in identical pairs? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to mix things up a bit? Granted, heel height has to match to avoid that annoying monster-lurch as you walk, but why must your right foot be clad in the same color, style, and material as your left?
We’re HL Carpenter, the mother/daughter writing duo of Helen and Lorri, and no, we don’t generally think about shoes much, unless they pinch. We do think about writing quite a bit, and that’s what led to the question of shoes. Specifically, we were tiptoeing around the topic of this post, which was supposed to be about our experience writing as a team. While we were thinking on our feet, we started contemplating the characters we create, and how to keep them from wearing our shoes - that is, from being too much like us.
You know where we’re going with this metaphor, of course, so here it is: As writers, we get to cobble shoes for our characters. Within the metaphor, there’s also the rub - who do the shoes fit? Our character? Or us, the writers?
For example, in our young adult novel, The SkyHorse, there are two pairs of mother/daughter characters in the forefront and one in the background. Of the main characters, Gramma wears pink socks, Mom favors sandals, and the young heroine, Tovi, likes sneakers. We can easily step into in any of those, and have.
Yet if the shoes fit us too well, different characters end up in identical footwear, figuratively speaking. The characters become interchangeable because they’re all like us. Conformity is okay for shoes, but not so much for the people who populate books.
Fortunately, we found a solution we think is a shoe-in. In our opinion, part of the pleasure of writing fiction is the opportunity to learn about our characters by walking in their shoes. So we slide into those puppies, and set off, merrily hopping, skipping, and jumping through the twists and turns of the story. The goal is not to make the shoes our own, but to understand the people who actually wear them.
By the final page, our feet are sore, the shoes are scuffed, and we’re where we want to be - in step with our characters.
So far, none of our characters have taken a walk on the wild side and donned mismatched shoes. Still, they all dance to their own tune. We’re comfortable with that. You know what they say. If the shoe fits...let your character wear it.
About the authors:
The SkyHorse is their debut novel.
About The SkyHorse:
When fourteen year-old Tovi Taggert moves to Honeysuckle Hollow to take care of her grandmother, she has a hard time fitting in. For one thing, she’s been tagged with the hated nickname Too-Tall Tovi. For another, everyone at Honeysuckle Hollow High believes Tovi played the Choking Game with someone else’s boyfriend – and made out with him besides.
As if she doesn’t have enough problems, after the latest stand-off in the school hallway, Tovi finds a gorgeous speckled egg nestled in a feather lined nest.
She takes the egg home – and mysterious visitors begin appearing almost immediately. Even more worrisome, whatever is inside the egg starts chipping its way out.
When the egg hatches, revealing a winged horse, Tovi’s troubles multiply.
As she struggles to return the horse to the magical land where he belongs, Tovi must make a courageous decision – and accept what that decision will cost her.
Find The SkyHorse on:
Barnes & Noble
Musa Publishing (includes excerpt!)
Thanks so much for being with us today, ladies!