Playing Hopscotch Between The Permitted And The Forbidden

Ian McEwan’s Atonement touched me deeply. It reminded me of how much, as a reader and writer, I am drawn into characters who hopscotch between the permitted and the forbidden. Many readers and writers are interested in novels that do this. If they’ve not thought about it this way, some might discover that it’s one of the qualities of some of the stories they’ve enjoyed.

As in Atonement, the line that writers with this interest compel their characters to cross is often about intimacy. They might be urging their readers to give” unconditional acceptance” to those who violate social norms in serious ways. McEwan does this in Atonement and his other novels with extraordinary grace. In The Kite Runner, Khalid Hosseini does it every bit as well. I like to try it in my writing, too! The challenge seems to grab me.

In Boundaries I wrote about a lawyer and a client who crossed ethical boundaries in more than one way. In the rough draft of Third Floor, I am trying it with a moral boundary of an even more troublesome nature. Using four POV characters – mother, father, and twin sister and brother – I am again reaching for unconditional acceptance with, thus far, varying degrees of success. From this you can tell that, as both writer and first reader, I am hoping the former will win over the latter! I must persuade myself if I am to persuade you.

I am putting the rough draft of Chapter One of Third Floor on this website. You can find the icon for it in the menu column on the left. I’d love feedback from you whoever you are – reader or writer – to see if you get the drift of the story and to hear your thoughts about the role this approach plays in what you have read or written.

Happy reading and writing.

Jim

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