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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Characters on the Couch: Aidee Ladnier's Charlotte

Today we get to meet Charlotte, aka "Charly," the other half of the paranormally talented duo from Aidee Ladnier's ongoing project.

India Eisley, Aidee's visual model for Charlotte (from Aidee's Smudges Pinterest page)

Character Two name: Charlotte (Charly)

Age: 16

Gender: Female

Species (if applicable): Human

Cultural or historical context (if important to the story, e.g., if it's a Regency): Modern day teenager, American South

Brief description and relevant history: 

Charlotte's parents have just divorced and she and her mom have moved in with her great aunt. Although bullied at her last school, she's still angry to be moved away from everything she's ever known. Her mother offers to help her remake herself for her new school and Charlotte adopts the name Charly and tries to remake herself as the perfect, popular girl. She begins hanging out with the popular crowd but she's drawn to Miranda. And when she's around Miranda she hears voices. Then when they touch, suddenly both of them can see the echoes Miranda sees only they don't repeat actions but instead interact with the young women (like their touch completed a psychic circuit). Miranda represents everything scary to her, gifts she doesn't understand, a sexuality she's not comfortable with, etc.

Where you're stuck, or why your character needs a psychologist: 

I feel kind of backed into a corner with this character. She has every reason to stay away from the other character and I'm uncertain how to build the bond between them.

Follow-up questions:

The relationship between Charly and her mother is potentially a huge area to explore. Does her mother help her reinvent herself because she wants to help or because she wants her daughter to be “normal”?  

I think her mother helps her because she wants her daughter to have the best. She's willing to take on two jobs in order to pay the credit card bill to pay for Charly remaking herself. She feels guilty for uprooting her daughter but after her divorce, they literally had nothing and so her mother retreated back to her family support system. Charly has family all over town but doesn't realize it at first.

Having every reason to stay away from Miranda is a good basis for a romance novel character. What do they have in common other than unusual talents and homosexuality? Is that why Charly was bullied?

Miranda is a painter and is volunteered by one of her instructors into doing set painting for the school play which Charly is one of the minor players in.

Has Charly had any unusual experiences before she met Miranda that could be related to their talent?

When she's around Miranda she occasionally hears whispers and voices. This alarms her that she's possibly having auditory hallucinations, but as soon as she connects with Miranda she realizes that she's actually hearing the same component that Miranda sees. It's a little harder for her to tune out, and starts to cause some anxiety. They quickly learn, though that once the circuit is complete, the spirits last thought is completed, their last words finished and their last breath breathed. They can move on.

What does Charly want from life? What does she fear most?

Charly wants to be accepted. She joins every club and extracurricular activity she can when she's enrolled mid-year. Her idea is that the law of averages will mean she'll meet someone she can be friends with. She's afraid of being lonely. Her mother is always at work, her aunt is really old and comes from an alien (small town) culture, and Charly's afraid of being alone.

And for the relationship – what does Miranda have that Charly envies and vice versa? Mother/lack of mother relationship could be huge here.

I think Charly's envious of Miranda's ability to buy or do or go anywhere she wants because her family has a lot of money. Charly's mom is barely making it, forced to move in with family in order to survive. Initially, I think Charly's a little willfully ignorant of her mother's finances, but it slowly becomes more worrisome for her. She sees Miranda as having everything she wants and not wanting it.

Cecilia says:

Common values and interests are a great force of attraction to other people. When clients talk to me about wanting to find a partner or even to meet new friends, I encourage them to put themselves in situations that will allow them to meet people with the same interests repeatedly. Think about your involvement in Southern Magic. I’ve found several good friends through Georgia Romance Writers because we have a common interest – writing – that helps us “get” each other.

Both of your characters want the same thing – acceptance. It doesn’t look the same at first because they’re doing opposite things to gain it. Miranda, who wants to be accepted by her family, is in avoidance mode, and Charly is actively pursuing it with all her activities. Gradually coming to recognize it and realizing that they actually do understand each other on a deep level will be a great romantic arc to your story. It also sounds like they have the potential to connect at first through artistic pursuits, again with Miranda being more behind-the-scenes and Charly pursuing the spotlight, but both involved in the drama department.

The desire for acceptance also provides a good basis for conflict because it will also get in the way of them pursuing their helping the spirits cross over. Even in a place that has stories like The Ghost in the Field, people who actually have that kind of talent are often shunned. Thus there needs to be something positive they can connect over on a deeper level. I can see your characters having arguments as to whether they should continue with this spiritual work, but both of them having a noble reason to continue. For Miranda, it’s wanting to help her best friend cross over. Perhaps Charly can discover something that could help her family finances, like a treasure hidden in her great aunt’s house that one of the smudges knows about. That brings up a different value – altruism, or whatever else you’d like to call it.

As for Charly’s internal conflict, her primary conflict emotion sounds like anger hiding fear. The relationship with Miranda has the potential to gradually give her the sense of security she wants if she can overcome fear and envy, which will cause her to push Miranda away at first, and learn to focus on what’s truly important to her.

Thanks so much for bringing the girls by, Aidee! I enjoyed analyzing them. These are fascinating characters, and I look forward to seeing how this story turns out.

If you have a character you'd like help with, please send me a message through the contact form (upper right on page) or email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com

About Aidee Ladnier:

Aidee Ladnier began writing fiction at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee's to write both romance and erotica with a little science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

You can find her on her blog at http://www.aideeladnier.com or on her favorite social media sites.


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