Would Love To Have Your “Novel” Ideas

While revising my current work-in-progress—“Christmas Joe”—I’ve considered adding a new scene. I’d like your help with it.

“Christmas Joe” is a coming-of-age novel. Twenty-one year old James March hopes to obtain unexpected money his recently deceased mother left for him and ends up searching for the person who might be his father.

His friend Trixie accompanies him. She also has plans: become rich and famous on the “Finder’s Keepers” reality TV show. She’ll eventually leave James to participate.

The scene I may add will reveal if she becomes a contestant. She, and other “Finder’s Keepers” hopefuls, must find an object. What the contestants don’t know is that during their search, they will be confronted with a “test.” Will they stop their race and help someone? All of this is being filmed and viewers will vote on winners . . . not just based on who finds the object quickest, but also what the contestants did when they had an opportunity to aid a person. Think of it as a “Good Samaritan” moment.

I want Trixie to encounter a person-in-need that most viewers would think she should/could help. Her help MUST include giving money to, or using money for, the needy person.

Trixie’s on foot, running through the streets of Los Angeles, in a clearly safe area. Then the “test,” a needy person, appears. It can’t be perceived as a scary situation for Trixie . . . so, what might a needy person want or ask that would be compelling? It could a child, an adult, a family, a person with a pet, etc.

One way of imagining this could be: what would make you stop and help?

So, your ideas . . . I’d love to hear ‘em!!!

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  1. I’d go with a woman, or possibly a woman and a child. A man is out of the question, because no matter how mild the situation, a man approaching a lone woman can be scary. A child by him/herself is dangerous in and of itself, and I’m not sure what your character arc is but there has to be the possibility that she won’t choose to help the needy person or it wouldn’t make for an interesting scenario on the show, but if she refuses to help a lone child in order to complete her quest then she’s a horrible person, and unless you want us to hate her, we can’t have her leave a child stranded.
    So, I’d suggest a scenario where a woman approaches her, perhaps a woman with a baby, who is out of formula/diapers/whatever and she gets paid tomorrow but the baby needs XYZ today, so could she spare just a few dollars to get the baby formula?
    (It’s different from the lone child, because even if she doesn’t help the woman, the woman is still responsible for the child and has the means to care for it, so even though she’s a bit of a jerk if she doesn’t help, she’s not leaving a child unattended to fend for himself while she goes off on her quest.)

    1. Avily – I think you’re right. About a woman and a child. Since I want this to be a “set up” by the TV show folks, I imagine them doing everything possible to bring out the emotions…of the game’s participants and the viewers. Thanks for your input!!

  2. Larry,
    Avily is right. Mother and child in need. Not too threatening, but too heart wrenching to avoid. I don’t like the lone mother, lone child or stray, injured dog. All three are cliches and to be avoided. But a mother whose child is ill and needs medicine from the pharmacy across the street would let Trixie interrupt the race, run over and get the children’s Tylenol or whatever, give it to the mother and scoot onward. Hope you find the right blend of pathos/fear/restitution here.

    1. Thanks Betsy . . . I agree: Avily is right. And you are too. A woman’s got to be the “interruption” and my writer’s job is to avoid a cliche! Work, work, work!

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