The Edge of Belonging: Top Five

THE EDGE OF BELONGING

by AMANDA COX 

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

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When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother’s estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo framesshe provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.
In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truthboth the search for it and the desire to keep it from otherstakes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
 

My Top 5 Ingredients for Character Creation

by Amanda Cox, author of

The Edge of Belonging

Character creation is one of my favorite elements of writing. Characters often come to me before the plot. Once I know the character, I’m able to see what the plot needs to take a character from where they start at the beginning of the book to the character they grow to be at the end. I often tap into my experience as a counselor to make these story decisions. These are my top five things that make characters come alive for me.

1. The brokenness they enter the story with, or their backstory: We all have a story behind who we are and why we are motivated to make certain choices in life. If we all have a story of where we came from, my fiction characters need that too! I often know the character’s backstory before I know the plotline that appears on the page. Elements from the character backstory usually provide barriers between the character and their deepest desire (or even being able to name what that desire is). This was especially true for one of my point-of-view characters, Pearl, in The Edge of Belonging.

2. The people/events who shape my characters, for better and worse: All of my characters have both positive influences and negative influences that have shaped them. I need to understand who and what those influences are as a part of character creation. Those positive and negative people and circumstances build my characters’ strengths. After all, most weaknesses are strengths that are overly relied upon, placing the character in unhealthy behavior patterns. In The Edge of Belonging, Harvey’s staunch independence, resulting from his experiences in foster care, was necessary for his survival and resilience, but that same coping skill is the very thing that has kept him from a deep human need he can’t even bring himself to admit.

3. Deeply held values: I have to know what matters to my characters: values of family and connections, values related to safety and self-preservation, values of independence or the opposite of that. My characters’ deep-seated values will inform me of how they will react to the events of the plot. In creating Ivy, I thought a lot about what it would have been like to be raised by her family—this cast of characters who would never take family for granted because they each had to fight so hard to find it. Forsaking this deeply held value is part of why Ivy finds herself feeling quite lost at the beginning of The Edge of Belonging.

4. Identifying their deepest desire: I often identify my characters’ deepest desires by looking at their brokenness. When we are broken as people, there is something there that craves restoration and redemption of the thing lost. By digging around in that space, I find what my character truly wants, which shapes the way they move through the story. Identifying Harvey’s deepest desire was a tender process. It involved looking back into his painful past and feeling what he must have felt. Acknowledging the heartbreaking truth that Harvey believed he was incapable and unworthy of his childlike desire for love was such an important part of the process for developing his character.

5. Discovering the catalyst for change: Anytime someone, fictional or real, makes a true and lasting change in their life there has to be a catalyst for that change. Not just any event will do, and it must happen at the right moment in the story for the character to be ready for that change to happen. It also has to be something that will impact a character in a very specific way. It might be a big event or a subtle, slow burn that makes that impact. But there comes a point about midway through the story in which a character is like a caterpillar in their cocoon. They aren’t a butterfly yet and don’t exactly know how their transformation will complete itself, but they know there is no going back to the person they once were. They can’t return to their previous state. One such point for Harvey occurs when he realizes that he is angry at another character named Pearl, and this anger causes him to realize that something in him has shifted. He realizes that this anger means he has forged a human connection beyond the infant he has rescued. It leads him to wonder if there is more love accessible to him than he previously believed.

While there are many other important ingredients in character creation, these are my top five must-haves for every character before I start writing my plot.

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. 
 
Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.
————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS 
1st: Copy of The Edge of Belonging + Fern Tote Bag 
+ $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
2nd and 3rd: Copy of The Edge of Belonging
+ $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
September 1-11, 2020
(U.S. Only)
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 

 

Or, visit the blogs directly:

9/1/20
Author Interview
9/1/20
BONUS Promo
9/2/20
Excerpt
9/3/20
Review
9/4/20
Review
9/5/20
Playlist
9/6/20
Author Interview
9/7/20
Review
9/8/20
Top Five List
9/9/20
Review
9/9/20
BONUS Promo
9/10/20
Review

   
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