We're still getting into things here at our rental. I know a lot of the comments left on Monday said the apartment was "cute" or "cozy." Appearances aren't always the same as reality. While we're going to do fine here, I thought I'd use these temporary quarters as an example of how first impressions might not be the same as what happens when you deal with making things work. (and on the slim chance that the property owners read this, we really like the place! I'm just tying it in to writing.)
In writing, characters should be like artichokes. You don't get to the heart until you do some serious work peeling away the layers. What the reader sees, as well as what other characters see when they meet a character, be it protagonist or a secondary character, will be superficial at first. Perhaps the character was too good to be true, and as time goes on, faults are revealed. Or maybe it's the other way around. An unlikeable character turns out to be golden inside.
This apartment was where the owners' son and his wife lived after getting married. My guess is that they hadn't accumulated a lot of "stuff" yet, and with parents living upstairs, sharing meals, borrowing essentials, etc. probably was part of their lifestyle. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part, but after two days of trying to squeeze our possessions (and we brought with us only what we thought we'd need before finding a house and getting the bulk of our belongings out of storage), I can't help but try to imagine what the previous tenants were like.
One guess: They were tall. I'm 5-4, which isn't THAT short, but almost everything is up too high for me to reach. Cabinets and closet shelves are deep, which makes getting into them that much harder. Had to buy a stepstool.
Another difference I've noticed as we continue to discover more about this place: the artist owner probably wanted to make the place attractive, which it is. However, there's more "décor" than "storage" and we've already given her back some extras that serve no function for us. When I was buying furniture for our home, especially when the kids were growing up, everything had to have hidden storage in order to make the cut. Coffee tables, night tables, end tables all had drawers and shelves. Since flat surfaces attract clutter, I preferred having hideaways for accumulations of stuff. Perhaps she should have thought "boat".
The bathroom is beautiful. Small, but efficient. However, the single sink is set into a counter, with no vanity beneath. Coming from a master bath with two sinks with cabinets under each one and six drawers (which I didn't even have to share, given the 3 baths in our former house), it's a jolt not having everything easily accessible. There are shelves above the little LG washer/dryer, and that's where most of the stuff goes. The box I'd packed my bathroom "stuff" in sits on a shelf, and I move the whole thing to and from the counter when it's time to deal with hair and makeup.
We're still finding better ways to arrange things for maximum access, but it's pretty much understood that if you need something, odds are you'll have to move something else to get at it. And it's forcing us to put things away right after we use them. For the "before" version of the following photo, check Monday's post.
How do you reveal characters to your readers? Do you show them the whole picture, or peel away the layers. Readers – how much do you like to know about characters when you first meet them?
Tomorrow, it's another Friday Field Trip. I can't decide whether to share more pictures my son took in the Everglades, or the ones my daughter sent of Wales, since it was St. Patrick's Day yesterday, and Wales is closer to Ireland.