1. Snoreos
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    Snoreos Member

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    Excuses why my characters should cohabit

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Snoreos, Jul 22, 2015.

    One of the ideas for my book is for both the MC and her love interest to live together (more importantly, for her to live together with his family).

    This is quite tricky because it is such a popular idea; however, it would benefit my plot greatly for this to happen. I need an authentic reason for my MC to "stay with them for a while", but I'm struggling to come up with one that would put an original twist on such a cliché idea.

    I thought about one way, which was that her brother (who is her guardian), goes to their parent's high school reunion in place of their parents. While doing so, he meets the MC's love interest's mother, who immediately remembers their mother, saying how it was a tragedy how she died (details of her death are irrelevant at this point, so I won't bother going into detail). She then offers to look over the MC in times when her brother is out of town for different conferences - especially since he can be away for a couple of weeks at a time.

    The flaw with this idea is that I feel like it is missing something. Should I scrap it altogether and go with another idea? If so, what should it be?

    Thanks for the help in advance!
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2015
  2. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    How long does he need to live with her?
     
  3. Clover
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    Clover Member

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    I think your idea is fine. I wouldn't say the idea is cliché at all. It isn't necessarily unique, but I don't think it has to be. I'm sure there'll be other things happening in the story (especially once she's there) to hold the reader's interest. I can't think of anything it might be missing, but if you don't like it then it might be easier to scrap it and take a different route.
     
  4. Snoreos
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    Snoreos Member

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    Generally, it would be about a week or more every so often throughout the novel. I'm not sure if I'll make it permanent, though.

    That's fair enough. Thank you!
     
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  5. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    I like your idea, I think it works well, especially for your needs. My fiance (now husband) had to live with me and my family for a while, because he was from out of state and moved here to go to school, planning to live with his brother. His brother found other roommates without telling him (he's kind of a jerk like that) and when he arrived, he had no where to go. His aunt and uncle in the area were not willing to take him in (his family are all gems, I'm telling you.) We told him he could come stay with us while he figured out a place to live, and it ended up working out so well that he stayed for the duration of the semester and after, until we got married a few months later. My mom put him in one of my brothers' old rooms. A real world example as to why that might work. But I think if you only need her to stay every now and then, your idea holds up well.
     
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  6. Snoreos
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    Snoreos Member

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    Your love life is basically a real life romance novel.
    I think I shall stick with this idea, then. Thank you :)
     
  7. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if the guy has problems in his own house and has to move out periodically while the workmen come in. Maybe he has faulty plumbing, the AC plays up or the roof is leaking and he can only afford quick fixes instead of a real permanent solution...

    This way you could start your chapter or paragraph with some thing like...

    Mary saw a cab pull away from outside her house and went to the door to investigate. Johnny stood there helplessly on the stoop in a dirty, white vest, a duffle bag by his side. "Don't tell me AC again?"
    "Afraid so Mary, do you mind?"
    "Stay as long as you like Johnny boy - you know we love having you around and Polly will be stoked when she gets home from church. Come on in and I'll get you some clean linen, you can make your bed while I put the coffee on and you can tell me all about it."
    Johnny ran straight upstairs, opened his duffle bag and looked for somewhere to hide $2 million dollars, 5 kilos of coke and a small cache of arms.

    LOL - you get the pic!
     
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  8. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    Maybe the family lives in a big city and the MC has an unpaid internship and can't afford rent. She agrees to live there rent free in exchange for something.
     
  9. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    I think the scenario you sat up is fine -- plus that reason gives you some dramatic license deep into the novel/story. It will need a lot of backstory though as I had to read it twice to understand it.

    Other possibilities:

    1). Love Interest's parent (or parents) are diplomats or high-level CEO's who travel to other 'dangerous' countries and they leave "love interest" with her 'God-Parents'. For example, let's assume her mom is out of the picture, but her father works at Halliburton. He's going to Iraq...leaves 'love interest' with God-Parents (who are MC's Mom/Dad). A scenario like this allows you to place and remove the love interest from the temporary home.

    2). MC's mom/dad - witnessed some abuse of the 'love interest' and took 'love interest's' parents to court for temporary supervision.

    3). Love Interest's parent (or parents) are shady and have gotten themselves in some trouble...They essentially hide 'love interest' and MC's house. This is wide open with all types of side-story intrigue. Maybe the 'love interests' parents are in and out of jail. Or on the run.

    Hope that helps.
    Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  10. Snoreos
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    Snoreos Member

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    Thank you for these ideas. I will keep them in mind :)
     
  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not being from the US, I don't know how things work over there, so I may be seeing problems where there are none. Even if there's any validity in my points, I think it's still just "back-story" stuff that - IMO - you the author need to know, without necessarily including in the story, because ignorance of it WILL trip you up - probably!

    The problems I'm seeing with this whole scenario are...

    1/ Why does she need a guardian? I take it because she's under-age, and he's over-age. What age is that, in the US?
    2/ Do people still go to high school reunions when they're old enough to have adult kids? And to the extent that the grown-up children feel the need to go in their place? Or is this just an instance of networking, and you wouldn't miss a chance like this for the world?
    3/ You mention the mother's tragic death. What about the father (I'm ruling out divine conception!)? Did he die too? And, if not, why isn't he going to the reunion?
    4/ If the brother's going away to different conferences - for up to a couple of weeks at a time - this suggests he's quite a big cheese, which puts him in his thirties or older, so quite an age difference I'd have thought. Plus, their mother would probably be quite a bit older than Love Interest's mother...not exactly the same generation. (I say this from the perspective of having quite a spread [38-25] in my own children's ages.)
     
  12. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I assume your characters are underage?

    Do you need her to legally live under his family's roof or could she just spend a lot of time there because things are shitty in her own home? The boy's family are generous and don't mind a girl in their household, especially if she helps out with chores and e.g. babysits his little sister or brother if he had one. or maybe she's really smart and starts to tutor the boy or someone else in the household.
     
  13. Snoreos
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    Snoreos Member

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    I'm actually from the UK, but my story is US-based. I've done some research on how American schools are run, and where my book is set, students graduate senior year at age 17 or 18 (generally in 12th grade - which is the equivalent to year 13 [A-level] in the UK). My MC is just graduating at 17, who will turn 18 later in the book. Legally, she will have a guardian until this time.
    Technically, no. It is not set in stone that he must go to the reunion in place of the mother. However, - I made this clear in the earlier chapters - it was requested that he go and he "grudgingly" agrees, not wanting to go but feeling obliged to.
    Their father (not mentioned in the book as of yet, but will be explained later) left the scene after the MC's birth in an affair with another woman. MC has never officially met her father much like the brother and is mildly bitter about this.
    The brother succeeded the family business from his mother after she died (a successful company that manufactures products - the specification of what isn't decided as of yet but I'm trying to think of ways that it will link in with the story).

    Are there any other holes you see or is this background information enough? I want my back story for these characters to be solid, so any criticism is appreciated :)
     
  14. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    With the "conferences" I was perceiving him as IBM-style corporate. Family business he'd be more hands-on, wouldn't go to "jollies". But, he might need to go to trade exhibitions to promote his products, or go on sales trips to visit distant distributors. Might even be abroad. So the absences are OK. And, for family business reasons, he'd be all too aware of the need to network, so his reluctance to go to the reunion doesn't need to be that great.

    I take it this was mom's business? Otherwise, I can't see dad just leaving it behind. Perhaps he could have tried marrying the boss, only to find his loins (7-year itch, perhaps?) got in the way of his promotion strategy. Or maybe he couldn't take not being a "real" man and the breadwinner any more. And, if he left when she was that young, does she feel bitter, or does she just not know him, nor care? But, given the age gap between the siblings (I'm seeing 6-10 years or he'd have had a guardian himself until recently, minimum of 2) the brother would know him and may well feel bitter. Or he may feel guilty (kids often volunteer - in their own heads - for the role of scapegoat in domestic situations).

    For products, how about Dust and Fume Extraction Units? Simple enough tech to not need heavy doses of IT, bulky enough to be less than ideal to get from cheap-labour economies, tricky enough to get right to dissuade the factory Health and Safety to try to cobble one up themselves.
     
  15. Snoreos
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    Snoreos Member

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    You have some good points. I'll refer back to this as it is well thought out and will benefit the book in the long run.

    It was her mom's business - I haven't planned as far as how exactly they met (I'm thinking he was an employee at the company, had an affair with another and then left the scene). She feels bitter in the fact that he "stayed put" for her brother but ran off as soon as she was born - she later works through this bitterness toward her father when meeting MC's love interest's father and seeing him as more as a father figure. That's true - he is in his mid-late-twenties.

    I'll look into it, thank you.
     
  16. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmmm. Father-substitute. Tricky.

    Some years ago my daughter got friendly with a girl whose father had abused her older sister, been an rather unpleasant piece of work. Ended up leaving. Said friend was 1/ relieved that it was big sis who was getting the special treatment and 2/ guilty that she was relieved. My daughter wanted to parade me as "the father every girl should have", so invited her friend around. I've never felt more uncomfortable, nor seen a woman more uncomfortable. She spent the entire time sitting half-turned away from me, so she had to turn her head to talk to me.

    If your MC has still got father issues, I'd imagine she'd need to work through those before she gets around to normality. I'd suggest a fairly neutral indifference would be easier to move past. After all, unless brother's constantly rubbing her nose in it - and I'd imagine he would actually be the one with bitterness - she'd never miss what she'd never had. Although; having her initially fall for the father could be interesting?
     
  17. Song
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    Song Active Member

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    Your story seems alot to take in and work through in one paragraph, so I think I'll just give you a list of reasons why one person might move in with a family and see if you can make any of them work. Also they might make something click and help you come up with your own.

    1. The family takes them in as a lodger.
    2. If the character is young enough they can be taken in as a foster child.
    3. If the character is female they could come in as a nanny or carer (could be male too, but it is more unusual).
    4. They could be a friend of the family (but this isn't known to the MC's) or their parents are.
    5. They could be asked to stay for one night because it's late and that night something happens to their apartment so they ask to stay longer.
    6. If they are school, maybe they have a school project that might lend them to do it (like a parenting project or something (getting a bit out there now)).

    Completely out there but funny reasons for it to happen.
    1. They are a paranormal investigator, and they are trying to confirm ghosts in the house.
    2. Like Robert Downey Jnr, they get so wasted one night they wake up in the MC house.
    3. They are actually a long lost member of the family.
    4. Amnesia, they don't remember who they are and the family agrees to help.
    5. A simple handshake results in them swapping bodies and now they need to stay close to each other to both try to cure it and learn everything about each other lives.

    Hope this helps, or at least makes you smile.
     
  18. clhiggins
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    clhiggins New Member

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    Another reason for young people to go live with another family in transitional periods is when there is a real conflict with their primary caretaker - unresolved issues, he's terminally ill, and she's a teen; they have a frustrating and unproductive way of interacting; the caretaker is religiously strict and controlling; the caretaker has to accept a two year position with his company in Japan, something like that.
     

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