Monday, May 20, 2013

Who will tell your story?

In my current WIP I ran into a snag. My ideal reader warned me, “You have to get away from Aaron’s overwhelming POV.”

My main character is self-judgmental. I needed a tempering agent. What were his character flaws, his weaknesses, and whom did he go to for support to share his thoughts even if they were wrong. Who might he respect, even envy?

Hard to believe in rural Georgia in 1963 with the Civil Rights movement just starting to be felt in this southern saga, Aaron’s best friend from childhood is a black boy named Skillet. With him he finds a place to rest his weary, over adult cautions and just be the seven year-old boy he starts out to be when the book opens in 1958.

The boys’ family portraits are reversed. Aaron comes from a fractured family. Skillet has a happy, functional two-parent home. His family is surviving together despite the winds of change that came late to buffet the South.

The excerpt:

Aaron slipped through the hedge to the old depot entrance and sat down, making himself as small as possible.
Skillet circled the building until he found him. “Wondered how you were doin’ since you got back, Aaron?”
“I couldn’t get away any sooner, Gram watches me.”
“We got a phone now. I’ll give you the number.”
“That would be great.”
“You looked messed-with; what happened this time, another crisis? I thought you couldn’t wait to get back in the States.”
“Skillet, I’ve got grandparents—”
“Ah know…what about ‘em?”
“Remember the ones that were dead?”
“No way! They ain’t dead?”
“Dead to us, Mom says.”
Skillet shook his head. “That’s one messed up family you got, Aaron.”
“Tell me about it. I talked to them, the Frasers, on the phone. They’re real, Daddy’s folks. They live in Florida.”
“Guess they’re real old?”
“Daddy’s over forty, he’s old, too.”
“What’s gonna happen?”
“Nuthin’ I guess. You know Mom and Gram, nothing happens in their world they don’t want to happen.”
Skillet nodded. “Then that’s the way of it. Sometimes I’m glad I’m black.”
“Yeah, sometimes I wish I was you. Your life is so…so simple.”
“Don’t ever say that, man. My family is simple, but my life is very different. You’s lucky you white. You just gotta figure out how to take advantage of that.”
“I guess.”
“Sorry they messed with your head again.”
“Thanks. I’ll call you, and let you know if anything comes of it. Mama was awful mad; I thought she was gonna stroke out. And Gram…she was speechless.”
Skillet chuckled. “That’ll be the day.”
They got to their feet and left separately. Aaron stuffed the phone number in his jeans.

It fell to Skillet to introduce Aaron’s story and be the omniscient unseen voice of the novel. Yet, Skillet would leave the small southern town and not return until nearly the end of their story. So who will show us what Aaron is developing into? It had to be Aaron. Skillet frames the story and is present through Aaron’s difficult times in high school. Skillet can’t see what happens to Aaron when they are apart, but it is his voice that guides the observation with his more compassionate judgment of our hero’s journey taking over for Aaron until he mellows. Skillet is the voice pleading with Aaron to lighten up, and “…let go and let God.”

Julie Eberhart Painter, is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee and the sequel, Medium Rare. Daughters of the Sea, new this year is a paranormal from http://www.MuseItUp

Visit Julie’s Web site at


Rhobin Lee Courtright said...

WIP have such awesome potential, and it is so easy to get lost. Aren't readers helpful? This sounds like a good start.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Thank you, Rhobin. The turbulent background combined with the white family's dysfunctional dynamic makes a good story.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Happy alert, "They" just took it for publication!