Naming the Crew

*Trigger Warning: Brief mentions of suicide and abuse.*

Knowledge of one’s work is vital when writing a book. It is also necessary, when writing a blog about said book, for the readers to understand what the author is talking about. I have been sparse when it comes to characterizations and events in my novel, so this week I am presenting you with a summary of each of the main characters as well as their roles in the narrative. Enjoy!

Note: These descriptions may be subject to change in future drafts.

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The friendship between Charlie and Sam is the soul of my story. The book focuses on their mutual desire to help each other, and the way those goals conflict due to their differing perspectives on the situation and themselves.
Charlie wants others to be happy. She enjoys making them laugh and does what she can to uphold their joy. This changes when she experiences significant loss and becomes depressed. Pain, anger, guilt, and shame become her mindset, and she deems herself a failure and a burden on those around her, which culminates in a suicide attempt. Charlie believes that any affirmation is a lie because of the conclusions she’s drawn about herself: that she is worthless and a failure.
Charlie’s arc is about recognizing her responsibility for her mindset, and the efforts of the people around her. The things she believes are derived from lived experience, and it makes sense that she affirms them but they keep her trapped in her pain. After her second suicide attempt, she realizes that no matter what anyone else does, or how hard they try to help, she is the only one who can affect real change in her own life. She needs to find her own reason for being. Her time in the hospital also helps her notice the ways that the people around her support her and that, even though they can’t fix things, their efforts and love are not in vain; she comes to value their contributions to her life. Charlie’s journey is not over by the book’s end, but there is hope for her character by the last page.

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Sam carries the title perspective of the book. The story is as much hers as it is Charlie’s because both girls end up learning vastly different, though equally important, lessons throughout. While Charlie learns to embrace aid and responsibility, Sam has to learn to let go of control.
Sam is a very type A personality. She likes to be helpful and in a position to make decisions and effect change. When she throws herself into Charlie’s situation intending to help, she tries to take control, often at the cost of Charlie’s agency. Her intentions are good, but her methods are damaging to Charlie and herself, to the point where she must be removed from the situation.
Sam initially takes this removal as a failure, but eventually, she recognizes it as what was needed. Sam’s constant pressure on Charlie to open up and be honest about her feelings was running both of them ragged, exhausting Sam and making Charlie increasingly uncomfortable and strained. Their interactions become toxic, and separation offers them both the time and space to reassess their stances and, for Sam, the rightness of her cause. Her arc involves her realizing that vying for control is making actually the situation worse. Sam has to learn to let go of that need, for both Charlie and herself to thrive and regain the healthy friendship they once had.

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Jo is the situational character on the team. She doesn’t have an arc, but rather uses the experiences from her past to help guide the other character’s arcs. Jo suffered abuse as a child. As a result, she understands the feelings Charlie is experiencing. She has compassion for Charlie and understands her need for self-definition and expression, even as she supports Sam’s desire to help, encouraging it as part of the healing process. Jo’s experiences lead her to demonstrate forgiveness and healthy forms of self-expression and success, as seen in her competitive athletics career. Jo is a visual example of wellness and strength coming from adversity, as well as the calming and soothing influence on the team. Her caring balances health and support, as she shows what someone can become, despite hard circumstances.

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Amy’s arc involves the entire group. Being the most informed character when it comes to depression, Amy has a head-start in knowing what to do and often directed the team, in terms of actions to take. She believes in Charlie’s agency and letting her make the decisions, which often leads to conflict with Sam. The girls foil each other with their different attitudes, Sam wanting action while Amy is more willing to wait and listen, acting only when there is a need for a decisive response.
This dichotomy spurs Amy’s arc, starting with Charlie’s second suicide attempt. Before the attempt, Amy took a step back from her friendship to maintain healthy boundaries and lessen her interactions with the then acidic Charlie. Charlie perceived this as a betrayal and renounced the friendship, but that didn’t stop Amy from helping the other girls decide what to do during the crisis. Sam wanted to send Charlie to the hospital, whereas Amy feared it could spur Charlie towards later action. Sam made the call anyways, eliciting a negative reaction from Amy. She felt undervalued and hurt by the team. Her arc focuses on learning to forgive the team for their actions and not listening to her, despite the outcome and coming to terms with everyone’s unique position in the group, both in their relationship to Charlie and each other.
Amy’s insights and growth help to spur and shape Sam’s character, furthering her journey as well.

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Each member of the main cast brings something unique and special to the story. Knowledge, experience, passion and strength, these characters all bring a depth of personality and understanding that shapes their realities and helps them to learn the lessons necessary to their growth. No two members are the same, and their difference brings companionship where they need it. Each member is vital to the team, and I hope I’ve got you excited to see how their roles play out in the end.

As always, thank you for your support and encouragement, and to all the members of my team: y’all are awesome.

Project Status: The rewrites continue.