Posted by Lisa
To be honest, I was astounded. I have been exposed to money, and people with money - I rode horses as a child, the sport of kings and queens. But someone, I recently met, floored me.
His name - he never told me actually. I didn't ask. I met him in a playground, a casual conversation because we both have kids and we were both standing around. He was well-groomed, certainly. Neater than my husband would be at ten AM on a Saturday morning. He did pull away when my dalmation lab mix tried to say hello. Okay, maybe he was bitten as a child. Cut him some slack, I said to myself.
It was when his five- year-old daughter came up to him screaming, "My crocs are dirty. My crocs are dirty," that my jaw dropped to the ground. Why? Because he said, "Ew, they are. Just throw them in the trash. Mom can get you a new pair."
What struck me was his perspective. Is he THAT wealthy, THAT wasteful?
Later that day, I met Manuel, a maintainance man at the Marriott Hotel where I was staying. He came to my room to fix the air conditioner. We got to talking as he needed to wait ten minutes to see if it got cool. Money, wealth, or lack thereof, was the subject of our conversation. Manuel is solid, short, with eyes a warm brown that probably sparkle when he's happy. He has two teenagers. His wife cleans houses. "When I first arrived from Mexico, I made $5.25 an hour," he told me. "I hope to make $22,000 next year."
I probably gulped, my perspective is somewhere in the middle of these two characters, and characters, they are.
Since, I have certainly thought of these two people as characters. Goes with the territory of being a writer, I suppose. One character I liked a whole lot more than the other. I could spend a few hundred pages with that one. The other, well, I'd lose my patience by the third chapter - maybe the second, actually.
So much of writing is trying to write what intrigues you. Write, in fact, what fascinates you to no end. Then it will be fresh, alive, lively, and delicious to read. This, I have always thought of in terms of genre. You like romance? Then write the best darn romance you can write. I've thought of it in terms of plot, as well. I never thought of this in terms of character. Interestingly, as the masterminds of the writing process, we are in CHARGE of characters.
This whole character revelation I had, made me rethink my characters. Do I love them - even the cheeky, mean, impatient ones? If I don't love them, who will? So, if a character is dull, afraid to try something, make them the most outspoken, ill-tempered, agoraphobic dull person you ever wanted to meet. THAT will make unforgettable characters - who your readers (or agents and editors) will adore.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Posted by Lisa