CHARACTERS AND THEN SOME
I am not an authority on writing. I try my best and want to do something special. I had never really thought about what I do or how do I do it. It is just something that I get into so much, that it happens …but when I take the time to analyze it there are some things that are occurring even if we do not realize it as we write until we have to take the time to explain it to another person.
As I was writing the story Journey home, I did not have a title or even know what would happen. It just began as I had described earlier, writing a short story that became very long. As I had described for my daughter to create a character I explained that I loved a story where the characters seemed so real you could almost feel as if you knew them. You may like them or hate them, sympathize or detest them, but there should be such humanity about them that they would be the story. What were they really like? Why? Were there things in their pasts that would make them react or think in a certain way? What did they look like? How did they dress? How old and tall or short or fat or skinny or a dozen other things about them are questions to ask yourself.
“But Mom, what am I supposed to do? It would be boring if I sat here and made of list of this and that is what that person is.” At that point I smiled and knew that she was already thinking and working on the project even before she realized it.
As I explained that she does not have to list every attribute of a person or facet of their personality to create the character. That would be boring. I hope that as I write I do not tell you what or who a character is. I try to develop the story and show you as it goes who and what and why things and people are as they go. I often catch myself sounding so unprofessional as I might speak saying the person instead of the character. I think that is because as I am writing these are people and not just a technical character to develop and describe. People do and say and react in certain ways for certain reasons even if they do not realize themselves why they do and say the things that they do or think in a certain way. Characters are the same way. I think that by showing through the story… the person, events, circumstances, surroundings in a way that allows the reader to be there, see that, and hear or know that…they can feel and be a part of the story instead of just hearing a tale.
If a person is severely injured in a bad car accident on a rainy night they may overly react if riding in a car on a rainy night at the sight of car lights coming around a curve. Others may not understand or realize the intensity of the reaction unless they knew enough about the person to understand why they responded as they did.
If a person has lost several people close to them that they loved or was hurt in a very bad romantic relationship they may have trouble bonding, trusting or getting close to others.
If there is something about them that is different others may not accept or may criticize they may keep a distance or hide what makes them special or different.
I would say that these are conditional responses or reactions. From the time we are infants we learn from life and those around us. We constantly learn new things and some are unpleasant or even hurtful. We do not want to repeat those negative feelings and learn to react and avoid or hide or respond or avoid things that threaten us. We also respond to things that bring pleasant, comforting, or happy feelings. A character is a complexity of many things, and emotions, and thoughts, personality traits, objectives, hopes and desires. I do not want them to be simplistic creatures that just do this or that, because of what ever the one thing is you are describing at the moment. They are a complexity of all that their lives have taught, shown, thrown and bestowed upon them prior to the story.
I think the same is true in describing and showing the surroundings. When we think about the scene or setting that the action or story takes place I think that we need to allow others to be there, see that, smell that, and hear it. It needs to be so real that they feel as if they are there too.
The sunset blazed with beautiful colors does tell what it looks like. If the character named Lara “gazed at the beautiful colors that painted the evening sky ablaze in all it’s beauty and splendor.” We can feel her as she experiences the sight and know what it is that she sees. I do not tell you what it was, she does it and you know.
There may be times that the terrain or setting influences the story. It may present a challenge to survive or a place where things are hidden or threats and dangers await. It may be a place of beauty and tranquility offering solace and comfort. It may be many things but it is important to the story for us to be able to be there, see that and make it real.
I know there are better ways to explain these things and more professional ways to phrase the technicalities of writing and developing a story but if you were sitting here chatting with me and we shared a few thoughts these are my words and feelings and thoughts about something that I love and strive to do.
To me there is a difference between writing a story and working a story. Writing a story is when the words and thoughts and people, places, things and events begin to pour out and take life. Working the story is a different thing of bringing it together and giving it some order and clarity.
The character in Journey Home named Lara had experienced some difficult times in her life. She often felt a bit different than others and suffered the loss of several people close to her in her life. A person can be in a crowd of people and yet be all alone. He Uncle knew her better than most people could ever know her and her heart, and he loved her. He realized that if he died she might feel all alone and tried to give her more than things than those of monetary value in his will to help her through the rest of her life. There were things that even he had no way of knowing that would not aid her or make life easier but actually threaten her and her very existence. The danger she found herself in may have been unavoidable but seemed to be brought to her with no way to avoid when she agreed to the terms of the will by living in then old home place for a specified period of time.
One by one I tried to not only introduce the characters that would be involved in the story but also allow them to be real and help to make the story complete and let anyone who read it know them each and every one. I wanted people to be able to know the place, and see the sights, feel the fear and confusion as well as the special moments and bonding that takes place.
What were the answers? Why and who was behind the problems? How much was real or did a vivid imagination play a part? What more was to come? How would it ever stop, until it was discovered who was behind it and also why they were so intent with what ever their plans were? These were difficult questions but without answers the situation appeared to become more dangerous and more intense.
As you read the story of Journey home I have to ask….Do you really know who your friends are? What about the other people in your life? Who and what is it that knows you? Who can you really trust? If it is getting dark outside….Do you have your doors locked and curtains closed? Who and what might be outside looking in…and WHY?