Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fish Out of Water Stories

I’ve always enjoyed fish-out-of-water stories because I’ve often felt like one myself. When we moved to Hawaii and lived in the heart of Honolulu, I was one of the few non-locals in the middle school. And if anyone had any doubt about that, the minute I opened my mouth, my southern accent gave me away. We wound up moving on base when housing became available, so the following year I entered a high school filled with other military brats who had similar life experiences. That was one of the few times in my life when I felt somewhat normal. Then we moved again, and I rediscovered how different I was. That's probably why I almost always relate to unusual characters in books and movies.

Some of my favorite fish-out-of-water movies include “Legally Blonde,” “Mr. Mom,” “Meet the Parents,” “E.T.,” “Splash” (literally a fish out of water story), “The Jerk,” "Edward Scissorhands," and “Back to the Future.” I think that one of the things I like about them is that we’re forced to see humanity from a different perspective as the characters’ differences become more obvious.

As a writer, I’m having fun with Missing Dixie, the first fish-out-of-water story in my Uptown Belles series, because it enables me to push my heroine to grow and develop outside her comfort zone. Being a small-town Alabama girl on her own in New York City, she has to face unfamiliar circumstances on a daily basis. This in turn gives her all sorts of opportunities to become stronger in every aspect of her life, including her faith. Without her trust in the Lord, she’d be running all the way back to Alabama, but she knows that Jesus is right there by her side, every step of the way.

I like having the fish-out-of-water theme because I can push my characters by plopping them into the middle of situations that make them uncomfortable. That’s when you can see what they’re really made of. My southern belle Cissy might come across as a flake sometimes, but when she is forced to be strong, she has to dig deep and develop mental and emotional muscles she never knew she had.

Do you like fish-out-of-water stories? Have you ever been a fish out of water?


Brandi Boddie said...

I enjoy fish out of water stories. It's satisfying to see characters stretch and grow, sink or swim. Looking forward to reading your book, Debby!

Martha W. Rogers said...

I was a "fish out of water" when I first went off to Baylor and faced the college life just a few months after my 17th birthday. I had no idea what to expect, and everyone else seemed much older. Classes and tests were much harder and I floundered with my grades that first semester. I finally settled in by the spring of my freshman year and got my grades where they should have been.

The heroine of my first novel, Lucinda Bishop, had to adapt to a lot of changes from life as Boston socialite to living on an Oklahoma ranch in 1890's.

Debby Mayne said...

Brandi, I totally agree with you! And sometimes it takes a little sinking before we (or our characters) start swimming.

Martha, I can picture you in any situation. You are one of the most adaptable people I know!