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Michelle Trachtenberg just totally saved my YA mermaid romance

After I fleshed out my main plot points, and had my story worked out in rough sketches, I needed to start filling in the blanks. I had to know exactly how my characters looked, moved and acted.

I’d already downloaded some pictures to give me visual cues. My hot mermaid love interest looks kind of like this.

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The other love interest – whose part of a clan of witches (the TuatheDe) who use mermaid blood in their magic – looks like this (but more badass; with a leather jacket and tattoos).

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Clara, my main character, is half mermaid, and half TuatheDe (though she won’t find out everything until near the end of the book). I had some images for her – she becomes more supernatural looking as she awakens to her mermaid powers – but the easy physical descriptions weren’t helping me with describing her facial expressions, movements and thoughts.

I had an outline of her, a shell, but no powerful narrative voice: something essential in YA fiction. That changed when I started researching “dark haired actresses” and found Michelle Trachtenberg. Michelle is gorgeous, and I’m a fan, but she also has an innocent, easily surprised or flustered quality to her that makes her more real. She may not be a daredevil badass, but she makes a believable teenage darling trying to sort through emotionally challenging problems.



Once I had Michelle in mind, it was much easier to feel myself “getting into character” and projecting a more believable narrative voice. Still not perfect, and needs a ton of work, but I’m pretty happy with the opening paragraph, which is much stronger than before. What do you think? Enough hook?

I’ve always been a very sensitive person. I know this, because my horoscope tells me just about every week how sensitive and intuitive I am. But when my dad’s silver acura smashed through the guardrail on highway 99, sending both my parents tumbling down the side of a ravine and killing them both (instantly I hope—like the police report said, but how would they know? I mean really?) anyway, I should have felt it somehow. I should have had some warning, like that TV show I watched about a woman who sensed her mother was dying from thousands of miles away and got there in time to say goodbye. But when my parents died, I was warming up backstage, in the auditorium of Arcadia high school, devising new forms of torture for Timmy Grant, who was flirting with Emily Peters just two weeks after he kissed me behind the props closet. That and how pissed off I was at my parents for not being on time to my performance.