Thursday, October 20, 2011

WWJD--What Would Janice Do?

You probably remember the WWJD trend a few years ago, which begged the question:  What would Jesus do?  We all know he'd do the right thing, but sometimes figuring just exactly what that is when faced with a moral or ethical dilemma is not easy--especially when your baser instincts start asserting themselves.

I faced my own WWJD moment yesterday while at the gym.  As I bent to adjust the weights on the ab machine, I noticed something shiny near the weights.  I picked it up and lo and behold it was a Tiffany bracelet.  Do you remember I Dream of Jeannie, when Jeannie's evil brunette cousin would show up?  Now I'm dark haired so my evil alter-ego must be a blonde vixen because as soon as I examined the bracelet, her golden tongue whispered in my brain:  Finder's Keepers . . . Tiffany bracelets are expensive.  Keep it.  It's your lucky day.  

Then that other little voice whispered:  Do unto others.  What if you lost the bracelet?  Can your integrity be bought with a mere piece of jewelry?  

I knew what Jesus would do, but what would Janice do?

I looked at the bracelet and it had a charm affixed to it--a ring.  Then my writer's imagination took over.  What if it belonged to a girl whose boyfriend gave it to her before leaving for Afghanistan?  What if it was a gift to a daughter from a dying father?  What if it was a remembrance from a special birthday?

I decided I would turn it into the desk with the hope that they would have a lost and found department and someone would claim it.  A second later, a young girl came near looking pale and worried, scouring the ground around the weight machine.  "Are you looking for this?" I asked.  "I just found it."

She looked so relieved and thanked me profusely.

Now, I'm not telling you this to toot my own virtuous nature, but it got me to thinking about my favorite kind of stories to write (and read for that matter).  I like to present moral and ethical challenges to the characters.  Most of my characters want to do the right thing, but for whatever reason sometimes they don't--that is where the conflict begins.   

Jodi Picoult does that in her novels; she puts her characters in a moral bind, which prompts the reader to the question:  What would I do? 

Can you recall any other novels that pose moral conundrums for the characters? And for you?

No comments:

Post a Comment