Thursday, February 25, 2010

Character Skills

The movers arrived yesterday morning, a crew of two. These guys know what they're doing. I gave them a trip through the house to show what goes and what stays. The lead man walked through it once more repeating what I'd said, and he had it nailed. He said he's been doing it long enough that he can usually tell what to pack and what stays behind in about three minutes, even without a homeowner telling him. He's a third generation mover.

I didn't realize how much "stuff" was on our walls. Never paid much attention to how many pictures they're packing. I never thought about looking at the walls as containing "stuff" that had to be included in the moving mass.

I'd started laying out clothes for SleuthFest, but hubby checked the weather forecast. It looks like it'll be a good 10 degrees colder than last week's predicted temps. So much for my first thoughts. Out with the shorts, in with the longs. The dress for the pool party probably won't work either. So I need to rethink reorganize, and repack. Not my favorite thing to do. I tend to overpack because I can't seem to zero in on exactly what I'll need for each day, each planned activity. It's a skill set I'm lacking.

One thing I consider when creating characters is what they do for a living, or what they would rather be doing for a living. What skills do they need? Where did they acquire them. Or did they? Or maybe they aren't quite good enough at what they do, which leads to conflict.

Keep Reading...

In Africa, I asked our Game Drive guide if he enjoyed his work (yes), and why he chose it (couldn't stand the idea of working inside). Do you ever think about all the jobs out there? How many people do you run into on any given day. Bank tellers, dry cleaners, gardeners. What about the person who holds that sign that says "slow" on one side and "stop" on the other when they're working on the roads? How did they pick those jobs? Are they satisfied?

In writing, it's important to give your characters "super powers" even if they're not the sort that one things of in terms of leaping tall buildings or running faster than a speeding bullet. The ability to walk into a room and figure out how many boxes it'll take to pack everything up is a "super power." Author Rhonda Pollero says her husband has the power to be invisible to waiters.

These skills add reality to your characters, and help make them distinctive.

I'm looking forward to getting away from the chaos of moving for a few days, no matter what the weather. Tomorrow's Field Trip is a preview of Colorado – my talented photographer son has supplied some breathtaking pictures of Garden of the Gods.

Please come back – and don't forget about me just because I'm temporarily without Internet and can't "advertise" my postings.

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Mason Canyon said...

Trying to pack clothes for a visit to a different climate is nerve-racking. No matter what you pack (unless you overpack) you'll need something different once you get there. Looking forward to tomorrow's field trip.

Terry Odell said...

Mason - I definitely fall into the 'overpacker' set. I just schlepped my stuff for the conference to the door. Suitcase 1 size larger than originally planned. Heavier, as well. 1 laptop case. 1 shoe tote. 1 tote of promotional items, handouts for workshops, etc. Jacket. Purse.

I did remove the one dress I planned to wear to the pool party. And we'll be on our way shortly.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

You've made some really good points here, Terry--we do all have our sets of powers...even small and not-so-great ones like being invisible to waiters! And our protagonist's job, or lack of one, says a lot about him, too.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Maryann Miller said...

I like your suggestion to give the characters unique characteristics. Those are the ones readers will remember.

Have fun at SleuthFest. And I understand about the packing dilemma. I have no clue what to pack for my trip to Killeen for an event. Not sure if it is ever going to warm up in Texas. LOL

Terry said...

And then there's the character who overpacks:)

Good points. I'm an overpacker too. I blame the weather.