Welcome Wednesday guests for October:
10/01 Finding Sky author, Susan O'Brien;
10/08 Award-winning Hank Phillippi Ryan (Truth Be Told);
10/15 Indie authors Polly Iyer (Backlash) and Ellis Vidler (Prime Target);
10/22 Murder by the Month author, Jess Lourey;
10/29 Marilyn Levinson, Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery author.

Gloria Alden's latest publication is nonfiction. Boys Will Be Boys: The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys. Edited by Cher'ley Grogg was recently released and available on Amazon. Gloria wrote three essays and two poems in her chapter included in the book.

Don't miss next month's release of Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays on October 7th, in which WWK bloggers Shari Randall ("Disco Donna") and E. B. Davis ("Compromised Circumstances") have short stories.

KM Rockwood's
short stories will appear in two anthologies released in October. They are: "The Lure of the Owl" in Swamp Mansion and Other Dark Stories, to be released as a ebook, and "Aunt Olga and the Werewolf" will be included in the third Creatures, Crimes and Creativity anthology release by Intrigue Publishing. at their conference in October.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Characters Abound

They say everyone has a story inside of them, and I agree with that statement.  Each person has his/her own set of tales, experiences, joys and woes that make them who they are.  In fact, the wonderful poem Desiderata says it very well:

". . . listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story."

I would actually go further to say that "dull and ignorant," like beauty, is really in the eye of the beholder.  Each and every one of us thinks our experiences are exciting (or, at least I hope we all do), it's just a matter of getting the right audience to listen.

As a writer, I find it easy to be that "right" audience.  A few simple and well-timed questions can make people open up about their lives.  Many times, I don't even have to ask questions.  People will often just walk up to me and proceed to tell me the most random things.  I guess I have the sort of presence that makes people comfortable to share personal details.

I once had a man approach me in a Walgreens around Easter.  He asked me if I thought he should buy peanut butter Easter Eggs, then proceeded to tell me how his mother never let him buy those kinds of things, as well as some other issues he had with her.  This conversation went on for quite a while, until I said I had to get back to work.  Back when I lived in Chicago, I even had fellow bus passengers tell me stories you wouldn't think to tell a stranger.  In most instances, there's never any provocation on my part, they just start sharing.

It can sometimes be frustrating to have strangers confide in me as if I'm their therapist, but there have been times that I've found their tales to be quite interesting, too.  Ultimately though, the writer in me stores away little tidbits from the experience for a future character each time something like that happens.  Maybe I'll "steal" the person's hand gestures, or nervous twitch they don't even realize they have.  Maybe the color of their eyes will be so striking that I'll try to write a vivid description down in my trusty notebook for future reference.  There was an elderly woman whose face and countenance struck me so much that I immediately created a character and entire life for her after we’d parted ways.  I have no idea if the story I made up about her was even close to the real thing, but it didn't matter.  It was just a wonderful moment of inspiration.

How many of your characters have been inspired by strangers you’ve encountered?

13 comments:

Gloria Alden said...

I find myself curious about others, too, Alyx. My kids used to complain about my talking to everyone I met. Now my youngest daughter, Mary, say's she's taking after me.

When my kids were growing up we went on camping trips every summer with extended family - parents and whichever siblings were still at home. We used to chuckle because my father would disappear for extended times, but he always came back with a tale to tell about somebody he'd met and how interesting they were. He always said everyone has an interesting story. One I remember was of an elderly man fishing on a dock somewhere in West Virginia. He told my dad all nine of his kids went to college. He'd struggled to put the first one through and after that, each student who graduated from college helped the next sibling. My father was one of the wisest people I've ever met.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Alyx, I'm also one of those people to whom strangers come up to talk and tell the most personal (and sometimes awkward) things. My first husband would get so impatient with me because I would listen and ask questions. Like you, though, I don't think there's anyone dull and uninteresting out there once you get to know them a little.

I've not made a character right out of someone I've met that I can remember, but I've often amalgamated two into one.

Fun blog!

Warren Bull said...

Of course I steal from everyday experiences. Don't all writers? I was a therapist and people still tell me things they have never told anyone else. Like Linda, I make composite characters from various people I've known.

Alyx Morgan said...

That's too funny, Gloria! My grandmother is also someone who talks to everyone she meets. I don't think I've ever NOT seen her talk to a complete stranger in the grocery store. It's always very jovial, though, so I don't think the other person minds too much. :o)

Alyx Morgan said...

The elderly woman that I created an entire character around is the first one I've ever done that with. Like you, Linda & Warren, I'll just use pieces/parts into characters.

Thanks to all for commenting today. :o)

Maddy said...

I'm more of a people watcher than a talker. I must have the wrong kind of face for confidences.

Maddy said...

I'm more of a people watcher than a talker. I must have the wrong kind of face for confidences.

Kara Cerise said...

I agree with you, Alyx, that everyone has a story inside!

A number of years ago in a Boston post office parking lot, I saw two elderly ladies wearing prim clothes and hats standing next to a large motorcycle and caressing it. Well, I was intrigued and had to find out why. They said they had always wanted to ride a beautiful machine like that but it was something women in their day didn't do. Then, the young owner (wearing black leather, boots and chains) walked up, answered their questions and offered to give them a ride on his Harley :)

Linda Rodriguez said...

Kara, I love that! I could see a book in those three characters!

E. B. Davis said...

I'm more of the watcher. People usually don't come up to me and reveal hidden thoughts, although it occasionally happens. There have been times though when I get into a strange situation and feel as though I'm a character in a play rather than myself. I remember those situations and sometimes write about them.

Alyx Morgan said...

I enjoy people watching, too, Maddy, but to talk to them can be enlightening sometimes.

& I think you have a lovely face, Maddy. There's nothing "wrong" with it at all. :o)

Alyx Morgan said...

That IS a cool story, Kara! I hope they got on. :o)

Alyx Morgan said...

Yeah, I've had those moments, too, EB. I've never thought to write them down, though. That's cool that you do that.