Friday, August 31, 2012


Fly Away Home--from the writing perspective--has been an interesting experience for me. First of all, it's a genre I don't usually write in. Fly Away Home is primarily an adult novel (20's-30's) , though I'm sure a YA reader would enjoy it.
But the thing that has been most challenging in this novel is the writing of Calida Harper's world-view. She's not a Christian and doesn't have a high opinion of those who are. She has been burnt by her father, deserted by her brother, and let down by life in general. The only thing she clings to or trusts is her ideal of becoming a Successful Woman and all the posturing that must go into her life in order to bring that ideal to a reality. Therefore to write this novel (in first-person too!) takes a bit of mind bending. I can't have Callie's narrative sounding like my own, because I'm a Christian and Callie is not. (Not yet, at least.)

A person's world-view is the lens they view life through. Everyone has one and it flavors and colors their whole perception of the world. Callie's is green. She's jaded and cynical, though like everyone there is portion of her that is still whole and beautiful. But for the most part Callie lives under false pretenses, a sham veneer, and associates among people who are probably just like her. That's part of the reason she and Mr. Barnett collide so often--he's realistic and honest and hearty while she has carefully cultivated her persona so that she is only what she thinks she ought to be.
In fact, Callie's whole world-view can be summed up in this conversation between herself a friend.

“Jamie?” I paused and smiled at him—so jolly and puckish. “Have you ever wondered what it would be like at a masquerade if everyone suddenly removed their masks and could see each other for who they really were?”
“Not much, my sweet. And what would you be wantin’ to see the real person for? The whole point of the game is to be appearin’ like someone else.”
That was the point wasn’t it? Life was just a masquerade—mine more than most—and if I didn’t give Jules what he wanted he’d tear my mask from my face and let the world see the woman who truly lay behind the mask of Calida Harper. My lips trembled and I bit them to keep the tears back.
“It’s a masquerade, darlin’,” Jamie said with a wink. “Everyone’s actin’ like someone else.” He stepped back onto the dance floor and the crowd consumed him.

The privilege I have in this project is to show the gradual change of Callie's worldview as the plot progresses. It's so neat to have an intimate acquaintance with a character who will undergo such changes. But it is a challenge, personally, to think as an unsaved person would think. Every thought of Callie's is tinged with suspicion, jealousy, pride, or hardness, and it has been a great mental and writing exercise to create such a character and write her realistically without making her unlikable or distasteful. I've also grown to remind myself that there are dozens of Callie Harpers living in the world today who are just as precious and just as deceived as she is...just waiting to meet a Mr. Barnett who will take the costumes, masks, and puppetry away and show them the things that make a person truly great.


* said...

Hmmm, wow that is special, and impressive. Defiantly a challenge but you are certainly taking to it with great pov and learning a lot through it. Thanks you for sharing with us and giving us a glimpse of your characters.
Love the blog look!


Miss Dashwood said...

Viewing the world through a green lens. I like that. Not that I think Callie's worldview is the greatest, of course, but I like your comparison of perception with color. I'm writing a story about a girl who is not yet a Christian too, and I have to keep stopping and thinking about what choices she would make and why and how they'd be different from my own. It's amazing how autobiographical a character (especially a MC!) can become if you're not careful.

Anne-girl said...

I too have main characters who are not saved. But for me the experience of writing them is more like recalling my own confused thoughts and terrors not to long ago.

Beautiful Snippet my dear!

Kendra E. Ardnek said...

Writing a non-saved character in fist person is tricky. The one time I tried ... well, I really need to go back and rewrite that book!

Hope you can nail her better than my attempt!

Rachel Heffington said...

Thanks, girls! I do think it a strange chance to write in a way my mind doesn't think, but it is a great exercise, I must admit!

Abigail Hartman said...

Mr. Barnett is Full of the Win. I've loved seeing him around town on this blog, and the way you write the relationship between himself and Callie. By the very nature of the fact that they are opposites, they work perfectly together.

(Also - did you know I have a character named Jules? I s'pose you didn't. I get tripped up whenever I see the name here.)

Joy said...

It must be hard to write in first-person POV a character like Ms Callie, Rachel; one who's got a non-Christian and cynical worldview... but from this little snippet that you showed us, it seems you're pulling it off well!!

I liked this statemnt that you said, "A person's world-view is the lens they view life through. Everyone has one and it flavors and colors their whole perception of the world." So true!!

The main characters in my novel, The Crown of Life, are Ancient Roman pagans through the first half of my story, and thus have no knowledge of the Christian faith. My, it is a challenge to write their characters with the idea that they have knowledge of Christ or the Gospel... and then, the bigger challenge comes when they're introduced to the faith and how they respond to it...

But, nonetheless, it is a challenge that I am glad to undertake (most of the time anyways!)

Rachel Heffington said...

@Abigail: Well I *am* glad you that you think Mr. Barnett a good character. I have grown inordinately fond of him myself and I did have hopes it was not just a fluke of my creative imagination. I did hope that perhaps other people might enjoy him too, and you've sunk the subject. I didn't know you had a character named Jules...Hrm. Well, this Jules isn't crizackly a very main character--at least, he wasn't till a recent plot development. Perhaps our Jules' will meet someday.

@Joy: thank you! It *is* a challenge like you said, but so worth it when you can show the precious change in a heart, isn't it?