5 Keys Steps to Adding Depth to Your Fictional Relationships

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane




My Australian cover for Indigo Awakening


In Indigo Awakening (Book #1 in my “The Hunted” series for Harlequin Teen)—there is a love triangle that is layers deep. I’m a sucker for love triangles, but I wanted the one in Indigo Awakening to be a little more than a girl’s attraction to two very different boys. At the apex of this triangle is a very strong girl, Kendra Walker, the leader of an underground movement of Indigo children and feelings run high when beliefs and ideologies are tested.

Lucas Darby is psychic and becomes mentally linked to a girl he hears in his head after he escapes from a mental hospital. Kendra thinks she has made contact with another lost Indigo, but after she realizes that Lucas is a powerful Crystal child, she sees the future she always dreamed would be possible. And for Lucas to connect with the “hive mind” for the first time, the link is intoxicating and seductive. Kendra is older than Lucas, but for him their connection is as intimate as making love for the first time. It changes everything for both of them. Since Lucas is evolving into a Crystal child, the next evolution of mankind, Kendra is motivated to be with him so she can be a part of a new, more powerful movement. She is a modern day Joan of Arc on a mission to save the Indigos, but someone else is her rock when it comes to protecting her Indigo children.

Another boy, Rafael Santana, has helped Kendra build a safe underground oasis for the homeless Indigos. Rafe has feelings for Kendra that he’s never shared with her, but he’s also driven to protect Benny, a 10-year old boy he loves like a little brother. This conflict will drive how he reacts when Kendra’s Indigo revolution threatens the home he wants for Benny. After she focuses her attention on Lucas, Rafe becomes jealous, but in his quiet way he deals with it until the conflict between the Indigos and the Believers blows up, the fanatical church zealots who hunt Indigo kids to stop the next evolution of man. Rafael’s love for Benny collides with his loyalty for Kendra and changes everything.

Kendra must choose how far she is willing to go to save her Indigo family—the one she has and the one she’s dreamed about. Lucas, the powerful Crystal child, represents the future she had always hoped for, but Rafael is the heart and soul of the past she started with him—the boy who made her dream possible.

Key steps to adding depth to your fictional relationships:

 
1.) Give a strong character vulnerabilities that conflict with what they might want and force them to choose. There are consequences to actions. Someone’s gotta lose, even in love.

2.) Give them choices that test their emotions. Their choices shouldn’t be easy. For example, make them choose between their personal happiness or the greater good. This is classic and always relatable.

3.) Pair them with opposite types of characters to enhance the conflict potential. Opposites attract for a reason. Fireworks, baby.

4.) Create internal conflicts or flaws that make them struggle with their external goals and the goals of the character(s) you’ve paired them with. Conflict is key to any great story. But add depth to your character by layering the conflict inside them first.

5.) Give them a noble cause that is a roadblock to their personal happiness or someone else’s. What would they do? Not every character would make the same decision.


For Discussion for Readers and Writers:

1.) What are some additional points you would add to this list?

2.) What are some of your favorite literary or film love triangles? Please share your thoughts on why they resonated with you.

“Dane’s first offering in her new series, The Hunted, is sensational. Indigo Awakening has strong characters and a wild and intense story, matched only by the emotions it will generate within you. Readers will love this book and eagerly await the next adventure. Fantastic! A keeper.”
4.5 Stars (out of 5)
—Romantic Times Book Review Magazine

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I Am JUSTIFIED

Timothy-Olyphant-Justified-S4

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane


It’s been crazy since the holidays between my writing deadlines, promotion for my latest release Indigo Awakening, and all the relatives coming in and out of town. But this week I’ve been saved. Elmore Leonard’s Justified is back for Season 4 and the first episode – Hole in the Wall – did not disappoint. It was “happy dance” fun.

Yes, Raylan and his bad ass Hat-itude inspires me to dig deep for insanely evocative dialogue and characters that make me cringe and laugh at the same time. I see this series as pure writer inspiration. (I love Elmore Leonard.) There were shockers in this first show. Don’t worry. No spoilers, but for anyone who saw it, I’m already filling my Constable Bob “Go To” bag with all the necessaries to kick some fictional butt in 2013.

What would you put in YOUR “go to” writer’s bag this year? Any resolutions? Here are FIVE writer things I learned from being JUSTIFIED.

1.) Never discount the importance of a good secondary character. Constable Bob is a prime example of how a well-written secondary character can steal your scenes and maybe become a spin-off.

2.) Writing one book can lead to another if you plant the seeds. Add a super hot bail bonds woman, a hotel mini-bar, and a marshal with pliable ethics and you can have a future book plot. Leave threads or seeds to another plot in your current work-in-progress. It never hurts to have ideas and it may leave readers wanting more.

3.) Dark humor is gold. When a loaded hooker comes face to face with something “grizzly” in her place of “business” or a simple phrase like “take care of him” can be construed in more than one way, a well-placed bullet can be JUSTIFIED funny.

4.) Give your anti-heroes loads of baggage and a cast of characters around them that will push their ethics to their darkest depths. Test them. Right from the start, Raylan is tempted into “helping” bring a fugitive to justice, especially if he can benefit from a little bounty money on the side and sees no harm in taking a modest gratuity. What comes next escalates his woes into pure Raylan MO when he has to cover his butt from getting caught. (Hint: If you talk too much, you get a special seat in his car.)

5.) To get a great pace going, jump into the plot without too much back story. The sheer mystery will draw readers in until your reveal. Have patience and don’t “telegraph” where you’re headed. Readers love a twist they never saw coming.

For the premiere, I followed twitter hashtag #JUSTIFIED while I watched the show to see what followers found interesting or memorable. Die hard fans are hilarious and they often quote whole lines to let everyone know what got to them. Twitterville heated up with Justified fans and I had even more fun. Many writers joined in the fun.

So tell me what you’d put in your writer’s TO GO bag for 2013—to be ready for anything like Constable Bob. Or please share what JUSTIFIED has taught you, whether you’re a reader or writer. (I’m pretty sure I’ll never ask Raylan’s daddy Arlo about what he likes to read. Just sayin’.)

Here’s a sneak preview of next week’s episode. If you have trouble viewing it, here is the Youtube link: http://youtu.be/mtMFLlk5lKk

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World Building – Indigo-style

by Jordan Dane
@JordanDane



My young adult novel, Indigo Awakening, launched two days ago on December 18. It is the first book in the Hunted series with Harlequin Teen. The inspiration behind this book came from researching Indigo children. Query “Indigo Child” on the Internet and you’ll get over 8 million hits. Real life and headlines often inspire my books and this time is no exception. For the purposes of fiction, I took liberties in my portrayal, but Indigo kids are generally described as highly intelligent, gifted teen psychics with a bright “indigo” aura and a mission to save the world. They have high IQs, see angels and commune with the dead. Are Indigo children real or are they manipulated by adults to believe they’re special? Are they dysfunctional misfits or mankind’s evolutionary savior? You decide, but I find the notion of man’s evolution intriguing. Here is the synopsis:

Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.

They are our future—if they survive…

Five Key Ways I Built my Indigo World

1.) I triggered my premise with a “What If…” question that had conflict – The most important question in a writer’s arsenal is “what if.” What if Indigo kids are the next evolution and their psychic abilities are evolving and escalating? Who would fear this and feel threatened? I had to have a larger than life villain with a universal reach to terrorize these children. (Yeah, that’s how authors think.)

2.) I created conflict through a powerful enemy – The Church of Spiritual Freedom (specifically, a covert operation of overzealous “Believers”) use their faith as justification to persecute those they fear, believing God is on their side. They fear that Indigos and Crystal children threaten humanity’s existence with their “unnatural” superiority. That’s the basic conflict, a David versus Goliath storyline with an abundance of potentially evocative themes.

3.) I did research to add depth and dimension –I blended my research on Indigo kids with the topic of psychic abilities to create a different kind of world that wouldn’t be formulaic. I wanted the reader to “feel” these powers and how they erupt or evolve within each character. I didn’t want to simply describe traditional psychic capabilities. I wanted readers to understand how these kids feel as their power explodes or how their gifts morph into something far greater after they make contact with the “hive mind.”

4.) I provided a cultural context and hierarchy to my world that added to internal conflict for my characters – There is a hierarchy of Indigo Children/Indigo Warriors/Crystal Child. I made Indigo kids the base level with the status of a Crystal child more unique, powerful, and elite. Indigos are highly intelligent intuitive teens who “feel” their way through life, trust their instincts above all else, and can often see angels and the dead. Some Indigos are warriors with a fierce fighting spirit and a rebellious nature. This difference fuels future conflict between the cultures as Crystal children tend to be more peace loving and innocent. They are our future, if they survive, but what kind of world will they build?

5.) I built in consequences for wielding power – There is a dark side to having these powers—a duty and responsibility—and when the Believers tamper with science and human nature, they battle something they should have respected more. In book #2, Crystal Storm, There are consequences on both sides when power (of any kind) becomes abusive.

1.) If you could have a secret Indigo power, what would that be?

2.) Have you ever experienced a psychic moment or do you know anyone who you think is a real psychic?


“Dane’s first offering in her new series, The Hunted, is sensational. Indigo Awakening has strong characters and a wild and intense story, matched only by the emotions it will generate within you. Readers will love this book and eagerly await the next adventure. Fantastic! A keeper.”

~Romantic Times Book Review Magazine – 4.5 Stars (out of 5)

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Turkey Kill Zone (TKZ)

By Jordan Dane
@JordanDane



It’s an excellent day NOT to be a turkey…or my pants. If I had been thinking, I would have stocked up on pajama jeans last year. Maybe I’ll correct that blunder on the most sacred day of the year – Black Friday. (For those who don’t know I come with a “prone to cynicism” warning label, I’m totally kidding.)

My sister Denise and her husband Chip are the brave souls who are hosting our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. So the first thing on my “What are you thankful for” list is that I’m not Chip and Denise. I dutifully made our family traditional recipe for Cranberry Chutney (Yummo) and made Dulce de Leche Cheescake bars for dessert – one of MANY we will have. (We all make desserts so none of us have to eat Dad’s undercooked pumpkin pies. Looooong story.)

I’ve been crashing on deadline, trying to get as much written before promo begins for my next release, Indigo Awakening, in December. But I am determined to take some time off to enjoy the holidays and replenish the creative well. If there is any “writerly” advice I can share today, it’s that you should embrace all people and things. Enjoy them as if you were a child seeing everything for the first time.

So here is my game plan to make the most of my time off with the people I love and laugh with every day:

1.) I will turn off my cell phone. (See Nancy Cohen’s excellent post yesterday on Cutting the Cord if you need an intervention.)

2.) I will spend a leisurely breakfast with my husband, John, and watch the Macy’s parade on TV with him. For whatever reason, he inherited a “parade” gene and I think it’s contagious.

3.) The minute I walk into Chip and Denise’s home I will thoroughly enjoy the amazing smells coming from the kitchen. They are making THREE turkeys. (Yes, it sucks three times as much being a turkey at their house.)

4.) I’m going to hug absolutely everyone I see and take my time doing it, including One-eyed Jack, her visually challenged pug that snorts when you squeeze him.

5.) My ears will be tuned into every story and my chuckle box will be fully engaged because if there is another year ‘round tradition in my family, it is laughter.

6.) In my family, we have designated BUZZARDS. These are the few, the proud, the first at the bird. I don’t know who started this (totally ME), but the movement has been passed down to future generations. My nieces and nephews have learned the fine art of swooping in for the choice pieces (without leaving fingers behind) while my dad and Chip slice the turkey. First strike earns you a bonus round and crispy skin is double points, especially if you add in a degree of difficulty.

7.) I WILL NOT, under any circumstances, eat my meal in under 30 minutes. What is up with the rush, people? It takes hours to make (days even) and we finish as if there is a race & there’s a prize for being first done. (Of course, if there IS a prize, forget what I said.)

8.) And an addendum to this pledge, I am extending these commitments to Saturday when my Dad is hosting a tailgate party for the Aggie game, a cabrito mexican dinner gorgefest. (It will suck to be a goat on Saturday. Spread the word.)

Okay, so that is my plan. What’s yours? How did you spend your day, TKZers? I’d love to hear your turkey day traditions and any family stories you’d like to share with your other online family.

And know that at the top of my list for things to be thankful for is YOU. Write on!

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The Unseen

by Jordan Dane

I am writing the final chapter of my latest project. INDIGO AWAKENING is Book #1 in THE HUNTED series for Harlequin Teen (Fall 2012). I love and hate finishing a book. There is such joy in making the final revision. It’s a real sense of accomplishment that launches me into a euphoric state that lingers. I also tend to procrastinate finishing because I never want to let the world and the characters go. The beauty of this project is that I get to keep the fires burning with a series.

To celebrate, I like to do something special to mark the occasion. As luck would have it, I’ve found the perfect thing. New York Times Bestselling author, Heather Graham, will be in San Antonio on Monday, April 2, at 7PM at the B&N LaCantera to sign her book THE UNSEEN. I made a date with my husband to have a nice dinner too. (Writing a book is taxing for a spouse too.)

THE UNSEEN is set in San Antonio. That alone is enough to give me goose bumps. Heather graciously blurbed my debut book – NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM – before I had my first book on the shelf. I will never forget her kindness. An author of her caliber, I didn’t know what to expect. As an author, I’m always prepared for rejection, but her generosity blew me away.

Here is a summary of the plot for THE UNSEEN (Mira, Mar 27, 2012)

1800s. San Antonio, Texas: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo itself, a woman renowned for her beauty was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found.
 

One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace. Her blood was everywhere…but her body was never recovered.

Now: In the last month, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies.

All young women, many of them long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now.

Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city’s most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead.

Among Logan’s new team is Kelsey O’Brien, a U.S. marshal known for her razor-sharp intuition and a toughness that belies her delicate exterior. Kelsey has been waiting all her life to work with someone who can understand her ability to “see” the past unfolding in the present. Now she has her chance.

Together, Kelsey and Logan follow their instincts to the Alamo and to the newly reopened Longhorn, which once tempted heroes with drink, cards and women. If the spirits of those long-dead Texans are really appearing to the victims before their deaths, only Kelsey and Logan have the skills to find out why.

And if something more earthly is menacing the city’s oldest, darkest corners, only they can stop it—before more innocent women join the company of San Antonio’s restless ghosts….

“Graham deftly weaves elements of mystery, the paranormal, and romance into a tight plot that will keep the reader guessing at the true nature of the killer’s evil.”

—Publishers Weekly review on THE UNSEEN

I love stories set in San Antonio, my hometown. My debut book was set in SA and I saw the city with fresh eyes to tell that story. The creepy underpinnings of the paranormal is an added bonus, especially when written by such a gifted author. So my treat to finishing my book is Heather Graham and THE UNSEEN.

What about you, my TKZ family? Do you do anything special to celebrate the accomplishment of finishing a book? What is the wildest thing you ever did or would like to do for your next one?

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