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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Character Clinic: Bree Hostetler

Today, I've got Sarah's character Bree on my couch. Besides being one busy 29-year-old, constantly adding things to an already over-committed calendar, she's also the brain-child of one of my fab critique partners, which only adds to my very fun job! Bree was adopted as a baby into a very supportive family, but when her bio mom contacted her, Bree ended up getting scammed out of a lot of money, making her feel tons of guilt and the need to repay her adoptive parents the money they lost. Bree loves helping others meet their inner potential, and she's helping her friend start a cheer program at church. She's gotten really close to this one girl in her class, and that girl wants to find her bio father.

Sarah wants to know: How would Bree interact with this girl? Would she encourage her or discourage her from finding her father?

Bree -

How fun to get to "meet" you in person after reading a little about you already. :) Now that I'm understanding better the context of your relationship with this young girl, I do have a few thoughts.

Typically, human behavior rarely sees beyond itself. Let me see if I can illustrate what I mean. If you were to go to a restaurant, order the Monte Cristo sandwich, enjoy it, but then later get ghastly sick and believe that you got food poisoning from it, you're probably not going to ever order it again--from that restaurant for sure (if you even step foot back inside it)--and maybe not even from a different restaurant. This is natural. We blacklist places and movies and events simply on one bad experience, or sometimes just from the word of our best friend or a bad internet review.We don't see beyond our emotional response to the logic that the restaurant got a bad shipment of cheese, which wasn't it's fault.

You had one such bad experience with your birth mother. She swindled you out of money. Running into this girl who is seeking out her birth father is going to immediately remind you of what happened with your birth mother...and you're going to likely advise her to "leave well enough alone" to avoid getting hurt like you did. You'll try to protect her, as you're already having motherly-like feelings for her because of the nature of your coach-cheerleader relationship you have with her. It's your job to look after her welfare to some degree, and you want to avoid at all costs putting the guilt you feel (from having involved your adopted family in the messed-up life of your bio mom) on her shoulders.

So my initial impression, based on my understanding of human behavior, would be that you would not advise her to seek out her dad. Depending on how desperate she is to find him, you might even regale her with your horror story to make sure she stays safe. "Don't let this happen to you!"-kind of talk. You won't see beyond your experience to rationalize that her interaction with her birth father could be completely different, based on several different variables.

So good luck, Bree. You're in for a great character arc, I can tell!

Oh, and Sarah--my favorite candy for the time being is Dove Milk Chocolate. Also partial to Airheads (in particular, the White Mystery flavor), which travel better....


Shilpa Mudiganti said...

OK. I am new to this blog and I really want to get a hang of this. I liked what you wrote above and it very well explained how characters need to follow the human tendencies...and that is important while writing fiction. Is that what you are trying to explain here, Jeanie? :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

Shilpa - you got it! that's what i'm saying. feel free to email with any particular questions you might have. click on the connect tab.

therapist in Irvine CA said...

That's awesome as truly saying that the human behavior rarely see beyond itself.

Shilpa Mudiganti said...

Thanks Jeannie! your blog is getting a daily read for me! :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Goodness, I'm sorry I'm just now getting to this post! It's been the craziest month ever, but you know all about that. ;)

This is really helpful, Jeannie. I was thinking that would be Bree's reaction, but she's such a "cheerleader" for others (pardon the pun), that I wondered if maybe that would trump her hesitancies.

I'm coming back to this post when I dive back into my m/s, so I can dissect it more. :)

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.