H is for Hazel

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8357The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, is one of my favorite books. It’s about two teens, Hazel and Augustus, who met in a cancer survivors’ support group. Hazel has been terminal with cancer for pretty much her entire life, and Augustus is in remission.

I loved the interaction between these two teens. Hazel comes alive off the pages; she’s a real girl, flawed and unsure, yet so witty and smart. Hazel and Augustus spend a lot of time discussing philosophy, and it rang true because they’ve both had intimate brushes with death. It’s a moving book, full of interesting concepts to discuss. I highlighted the text liberally.

I didn’t see the movie (yet), so I don’t know how it compares to the book. (I’m always behind on these things!). If books make you cry, this one probably will, but it’s worth it. It was the first John Green book I read, and it’s still my favorite.

Do you like books that make you cry? If you’ve read this one (or seen the movie), what did you think?

Following the Rules

How important is it to follow the rules?  And which rules should you follow?  Yours?  Your family’s?  Society’s?   I could ask 100 people this question and probably get almost as many different answers.

Now, I know it seems like I’m going off on a completely different tangent, but bear with me.  I have a point… I promise.  🙂

When writing characters, it’s important to remember that sometimes characters act and believe different things than the author does.  Good characters have all their own internal sets of motivations, their upbringing, their past, their loves and rejections, their belief systems, and experiences.  Even knowing another person’s “story,” I may not be able to predict how he or she will react to a different situation.

All this came to mind recently when reading an article about a brave young man.  Seventeen year old JT Haskins had leukemia when he was one year old, and has been in remission since age 7.  A friend of his recently got cancer, so he decided that he wanted to grow his hair out for Locks of Love.  Only, he’s being suspended from school because his hair isn’t “tidy enough.”

He and his mom are going to fight the school.  Locks of Love responded that they applaud his effort, but don’t want him to get kicked out of school for it.  When I was seventeen, I don’t think I could have fought my school like he’s doing.  When I was 17, I followed the rules for fear of what might happen.  It’s not just the cancer that gave him this kind of bravery; it’s the sum total of who he is and his experience.

This was a great article, and I’ll include the original link.  But I can’t look at something like this without thinking of how it can improve my writing.  What makes him willing to defy the rules?  What makes him (or anyone) willing to stand up for what they believe in?