I ran across this quote today about writing and characters, and I have to say in my experience, this is very true. My characters definitely have their own agenda, which may or may not agree with what I had originally planned to do. Julie Renton is a perfect case in point.
When I first envisioned Learning to Live Again, I made Venia Lainie’s mentor. My original thought was that Lainie would need the older woman’s guidance and advice. I only included Julie because I thought it would be natural for the two women to be friends if Matt was Grant’s mentor. It seemed logical to think the two families would spend time together. Besides, I like Julie. Even so, she wasn’t supposed to be a particularly important character.
Then, Julie and Lainie got together, and the neat little plan in my head where their friendship wasn’t important and Venia was Lainie’s primary advisor went out the window. Julie and Lainie became close friends, and suddenly Venia was Lainie’s mentor in name only. Her only significant contribution was introducing Lainie to Julie. Then, Julie promptly stepped up and took over. In the end, I think the relationship between Julie and Lainie felt much more natural was a better choice, but it wasn’t what I had planned. That was entirely Julie’s doing.
This is one of my favorite Julie/Lainie scenes.
“Wonder what they’re up to?” Lainie asked as Grant and Matt walked off. The men had come out to let them know they were going to Matt and Julie’s house and to make arrangements for both families to have dinner together later that night.
Julie shrugged. “Who knows?” She sprawled back against the side of the pool, stretching her legs into the cool water and basking in the sunshine. “I love the sun,” she said, sighing. “It feels like coming out of hibernation when it finally gets warm around here. That’s the one thing I missed most when we moved.”
“Where did you come from?” Lainie questioned.
“Arizona,” Julie replied. “Talk about culture shock. I’m a desert rat, born and bred.The first winter I thought I was going to freeze to death. And snow. I had never seen so much snow.”
“I’m kind of looking forward to the snow,” Lainie admitted.
Julie snorted. “You say that now, just wait. It’s pretty at first, but then it’s just a pain in the ass.”
“I thought you liked that,” Lainie said with a cheeky grin.
Julie’s expression turned quizzical. “Liked what?”
“You know, pain in your ass,” Lainie said, giggling. “Sorry, too much time with middle school kids telling lame middle school jokes. It’s an occupational hazard.”
Julie groaned, giggling. “Not that kind of pain.”
“You know what you were talking about when we were unpacking, about how the other kind of pain can sometimes be a turn on?” Lainie said after a minute, hesitantly. “I get it now.”
“Oh?” Julie said, one inquiring eyebrow raised.
“You got me curious,” Lainie said. “I mentioned it to Grant, and, well, we ended up trying it.”
“And you liked it?” Julie questioned.
Lainie bit her lip, feeling a blush starting at the base of her neck and spreading rapidly to cover her face and the tips of her ears. Not for the first time, she cursed her fair skin. Every emotion she felt bloomed plainly on her skin. She couldn’t hide a damn thing.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Julie said. “I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be blushing like that if you hadn’t liked it. Am I right?”
“Yes,” Lainie told her. “I liked it all right. Very much. Truthfully, it was the best sex we’ve had in a long time.”
“Told you,” Julie said, looking smug. “We’ll convert you into a spanko yet.”
“A what?” Lainie asked.
“A spanko, someone who is turned on by spanking, either giving or receiving,” Julie explained.
“I’d say that has already been accomplished,” Lainie told her. “We’ve only tried it the once, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since.”
Tired of increasing chaos in his family life and the distance that is growing between him and his wife, Lainie, Grant Taylor decides the only way to save his marriage is to get back to the domestic discipline lifestyle he grew up with. When he finds Corbin’s Bend on the Internet, he is certain it is the perfect place for them to start over.
Exhausted and tired of juggling everything herself, Lainie reluctantly agrees to her husband’s suggestion. However, she is new to the lifestyle and more than a little uncertain about it. To make matters worse, their 15-year-old daughter Kathleen is convinced they had moved her into some kind of weird spanking cult. She is miserable and not at all shy about letting everybody know it.
Will moving to Corbin’s Bend be their saving grace, or will it be the final straw that tears them apart?