Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why Would Anyone Do Such a Thing?

Forever Young: Blessing or Curse - Blog Book Tour Stop

Forever Young: Blessing or Curse,
a thriller by Morgan Mandel

Quite a while ago, when I first read a chapter of my now released thriller, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, to my critique group at Chicago-North RWA, I received such comments as, "Why would anyone do such a thing?"

After hearing that, I had to step back and think. It wasn't enough for my 55 year old character to take an experimental pill to revert her to 24, but I also had to give her a good motive for doing so. Piling more reasons on would be even better. After all, the more a character suffers, the more readers are happy.

To make her desperate, I virtually killed her husband, gave her a bad thyroid, and bequeathed her with the beginnings of osteoporosis, a disease which caused her mother's decline and death. Then, if that wasn't enough, I let her lose her job.

Satisfied I'd made my character absolutely abject, I presented her with the option of taking an experimental pill to turn her young again, free from age-related diseases, yet able to retain her memories.

There are other methods I could have used to show why my heroine took such a drastic measure. Here are some I might have tried, but decided not to:
  • Establish early on through hints, words, and actions that she was a devil-may-care person, who'd do anything on a whim
  • Make her the pill's inventor who'd like to test the pill on herself
  • Let her be a doer of good deeds, who wants to benefit mankind by being the first to try the pill.
From my examples, you get some idea of how to go about establishing motive. Remember to include your own character motivation in accordance with the type of character you wish to portray to your readers.

Now, about what happens after my heroine took that pill -- well, let's just say, it's not all rosy. Otherwise, the book would have ended right there. To find out what other tortures I devised for her, you'll need to read Forever Young: Blessing or Curse on kindle.

What reasons can you think of for taking a pill to be 24 forever? Would you do it? Or, maybe you know someone, real or imaginary, who would?
---------------------------------------------

Try Morgan Mandel
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Morgan's next Tour Stop for Forever Young: Blessing or Curse is on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, at L. Diane Wolfe's Blog,

Morgan Mandel is a past president of Chicago-North RWA, past library liaison for Midwest MWA, belongs to Sisters in Crime and EPIC. All of her books can be found at Amazon and Smashwords.

Morgan is an active blogger and networker. Her personal blogspot is:
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/

45 comments :

  1. Hmm, if you offer me the pills, I will take them too. I think with the memory intact, I can do a lot of things differently.

    The Spinster’s Vow

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  2. I think it probably would be very tempting even without all the additional motivation you've given your character. My mother suffers from osteoporosis, so I can definitely see that being a big factor in her decision to experiment with the pills.

    Elle
    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

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  3. Yes, I think it would be tempting, but I don't think I'd want to be the first to try it out. That's why I had to make Dorrie desperate to do so.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  4. A pill to be young? I want it! And many of these people who are this old probably took other pills and other experimental drugs back in the 70's. They wouldn't be afraid. If I could go back to 24 again, I would take my writing more seriously and realize there's a future in writing.

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  5. You do have a point, Em-Musing. Many of the Boomer generation did take drugs and wouldn't hesitate to try Forever Young. I was never that daring.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  6. Tempting? Massive understatement! To turn back the clock even five or ten years would be tempting, especially if you could take the wisdom of experience with you. However, being the first to try an experimental drug would ultimately require some degree of desperation. The osteoporosis would be be enough for me, having watched what it did to my grandmother.

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  7. You certainly did build up the motivation, Morgan. Even without the individual impetus, the longing for eternal youth or to cheat death seems to be endemic to our species. As your subtitle suggests, it may not be entirely a good idea, and it is this often overlooked dark side that I chose to explore in The Rosen Singularity. There are issues in long life that few want to face.

    So I had the opposite challenge: what would motivate anyone to take a pass on such a pill? Why would anyone say no? What are the ethical implications of choosing one way or the other? In addition to the individual question of whether you or I would take the pill, there is the larger issue of whether we--humanity--should even be pursuing such a pill.

    Heavy, challenging stuff, I know, but it is these big questions that interest me most. And with medical technology poised on the edge of extending life by decades or possibly centuries, these are questions that will soon no longer be theoretical.

    --Larry Constantine (Lior Samson)

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  8. I'm wondering if any of us will be around to see such a day what that kind of pill will be available.

    Morgan Mandel

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  9. Quite by coincidence,my daughter watched the Zak Efron film "17 again" last night which is another take on a similar theme.
    The Central Character's MOTIVE in accepting the 'second chance' is commendable, but I confess I prefer the Mel Gibson film "Forever Young"
    Different ways of treating the same subject!

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  10. What an amazing premise! And a writing lesson too! I love how you responded to your readers critiques. Wonderful.

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  11. My CP's have done the same thing to me. CP's can be such a pain, lol. Good luck with Forever Young!

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  12. Ah, Morgan, pushing the little pills, are you?

    (hey, are you the one that keeps sending me emails about a little blue one?)

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  13. Wow, you sounds like me. I'm always having characters do stuff, then my trustys ask the same question (Why?) and I have to scramble to come up with something better than, because it makes for a really cool book, that's why!

    :)

    Sounds like you came up with some great ones.

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  14. Bad thyroid, osteoporosis, lost job vs. 24? Seems like a no-brainer to me (which happens to my particular malady ... mostly due to what I was doing at 24).

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  15. Sometimes it is hard to figure out why a character will do something, especially when sometimes I wonder afterwards why I did certain things myself.

    No, I'm not the one sending Norm those emails. I get them too. I wonder who is sending them?

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  16. As pointed out, there are other books and movies touching on a similar subject. It's how it's woven into the entire story that presents a challenge and makes the difference.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  17. It would be very tempting if you made some whooping mistakes and thought you could have a better life by reliving your youth and not making those mistakes. I love this idea but it's bad science to experiment on yourself. LOL. didn't she read Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde?

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  18. Well, getting a chance to correct mistakes is not part of the option in this book of looking and feeling young again. You still have your past and remember it, but you can have a very long future, unless means other than aging destroy you.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  19. Perhaps a victim of domestic abuse would take the pill so she could go back and not have lived through the trauma (by not going out with/meeting/marrying the to-be abuser). Or losing a child. Any adult trauma would probably work.

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  20. Since I would not be tempted to take such a pill in the least, I'd have to come up with powerful motivation for my character to do so, just as Morgan has done here. I wouldn't rely on the reader to "get it" or intuit my character's motivation because even I wouldn't yet be convinced. For this reason, writing what you don't know--even what you can't relate to--can be a great way to approach fiction. You will pay attention to all the details so that the characterization adds up.

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  21. Love the premise of this, Morgan! I don't think I would want to stay 24 all my life because I wouldn't want to miss out on some of the good things that would happen to me later in life unless those same things still happened and I'm only 24, well I think that changes things, lol. The twenties were fun, the thirties were a little scary for me, the forties, I started getting my act together and the 50s look out I'm queen of the world.

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  22. I don't want to be 24 again, unless I take my dear husband and my family with me back.
    To think of it, I don't want to be 24 period. These were the difficult years of struggle, hard work, and uncertainty. Why go through that again? I have thyroid problems and osteoporosis, but I am done raising kids, waking at six am to go to work, working 14 hours a day, worrying about my sick child or my DH traveling to far away places. Nope I like my life as is, with its little booboos.

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  23. It would so, so tempting. Especially if you went back with your memories and knowledge intact. In other words, I become young, yet still know what I've learned over the years. In a way, though, it'd be sad since your relationships with friends and family would change.

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  24. The hard part would be if others you love won't take the pill, and you lose them.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  25. I'm a little surprised by your critique group reaction as well. Humans have sought the Fountain of Youth throughout history! In today's narcissistic society, a pill to keep us young would sell better than aspirin, and without much more reason needed than a little sag or lack of energy. That's really the premise of bio-identical hormone therapy - to make our bodies think they are younger and so they feel and look better.

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  26. I'm sure scientists are working on it. I wished they'd hurry up!

    I sure would like to look and feel younger.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  27. I enjoyed reading this book, but I have to say I would be one of those people who wouldn't take it. God gives us one life to live, and free will means we make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences. If we could retain our memories, but be younger, than how would that change the person we are created to be? What would that do to the plan for our lives? Obviously we would make decisions based upon our wealth of experience that we wouldn't have had back then. What lessons and messages would we miss?

    I felt you did a great job of providing Dorrie with the right type of motivation to take the pill, and yet, still have it be realistic with her not rushing to sign up.

    Wishing you the best,

    Cheryl

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  28. I probably wouldn't because I wouldn't want to lose my kids, but if I had no family and I could keep the wisdom I have now, I'd give it a go.

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  29. It's always fun to think, What If, even when we know it can't come true. Or can it?

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  30. Morgan, I'm looking forward to more thought and conversation-provoking posts from you each month!

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  31. Good post. I actually did a post on motivation as well. If the reader can't grasp the motivation of can't find a reason to be curious about it, the story is shot.

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  32. I definitely wouldn't want to be 24 again, but if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, I probably would.

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  33. Our past usually in some ways determines our future. But if something momentous like a reversal of aging happened, that would certainly impact our lives in ways we can't imagine.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  35. You are so right about motivation being crucial to a character's actions. I read too many books where things just conveniently happen because the author needed it to happen for the story.

    Regarding the pill. I'm not sure I would want to take one. Maybe because I read the book. LOL No spoilers here.

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  36. Would I take a pill to start again at 24 with my memories intact? Gosh, I would be tempted, but I wouldn't want to do anything different because I love how my kids turned out. And I'm still married to the same guy - how fair would that be? I'd win all of our "discussions" before they even got started good.

    A real brain teaser, Morgan!

    Enjoyed it, and wishing you the best with Forever Young.

    Maggie
    http"//mudpiesandmagnolias.blogspot.com

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  37. If I could go back to 24, I'd take much better care of my knees. : )That alone would be worth the risk of taking an experimental pill.

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  38. Maggie's husband would also have to be on the pill to give him a fighting chance in those discussions.

    I wouldn't mind better knees myself. I baby mine because I know if I do too much kneeling they will suffer the next day.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  39. Hi Morgan,
    Sounds fascinating. I wouldn't mind taking a pill and becoming 24 again.Knowing what I know now and being only 24 would be a dream come true - or at least I think it would. Interesting concept.

    cheers

    Margaret

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  40. Yes, Margaret, the concept is a dream. Hopefully, it will come true some day!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  41. Looking younger and feeling younger are definite plusses. Being young is another story altogether. I'd opt to look and feel great, but keeing my current age (I'm a great-grandmother) would be my choice.

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  42. So let's see--I could be 24 but keep my memories of the time since then? So basically, I'd be mentally the same but in the body I had at 24? Hell yeah! :)

    I know what you mean about setting up motivations. I'm working on that right now--I need to explain why my main character would keep something from her loving parents without getting all over-explainy.

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  43. Motivation isn't easy. Sometimes you have to make a character give a great reason why they did something that seems strange or dumb.

    Morgan Mandel

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  44. I'm late to the party--been away most of the week. Just wanted to comment that your novel reminds me of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment."
    I always thought it was a brilliant theme!

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  45. That's what I call a bad book! how boring...

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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