Characters stepping in and out of your life

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Characters stepping in and out of your life

Every living day, characters step in and out of our lives. They may be brief encounters, but they leave an impression of one thing or another. The whole of the human race is there to observe and to listen to all the time. There are so many reasons that characters are there and then gone again. It does not matter. Each person leaves something behind. Writers must use whatever it is they left.

We have characters enter our lives by way of film, TV or books. We get to know them almost like family after enough exposure to them. We can almost predict what they will do in certain situations. We may be able to finish their sentences much like we do those whom we know best. To us they are every bit as much a living, breathing person as the person living under our roof.

Sometimes we do not know the characters well whether in real life or in the media, but they are real enough to us to observe and learn from them. Often, in real life, the encounter is so short, that the briefest of impressions is left, just enough to analyze later.

Maybe it was a thought about their appearance that started you on another train of thought that led to something more revealing about human nature. Maybe it was the outfit they wore that made you consider that this was an outrageous outfit and you would be frightened to look so bizarre. Note-this person seems to know they look strange but, they do not care. What’s up with that? You might wonder how that young person got away with wearing something so risqué, where were their parents or why hasn’t the school stopped such an outfit at the door?

The impressions might not be visual, but an overheard snatch of conversation that indicated this stranger was about to do something scary or commit a crime of epic proportions. What is left behind is an idea spawned when you watched this character and determined he was very nervous and edgy like he was afraid to be caught at something bad. Maybe, this person is on the run.

The characters that step into your life from reality could be the postman, an elderly couple across the street, a young bully and his victim or maybe a picture perfect beauty that seems so lost. We find these folks all around us and many are characters in their own right, but possibly the quirks of a neighbor or the nervous tics of the grocery store bagger are what tidbits we are left with. These are the stuff that stories are made with and small traits that can flesh out those characters we want to write.

With this much raw material at our disposal it should be easy to create characters. Of course a writer rarely uses every trait of one person to actually form the character, but the reality or perceived notion of that person is what the character can be based upon.

When we people watch we are gleaning information to be stored in our subconscious till we need it. It is the ideas that will stimulate thinking and help us elaborate on what has been left us. However, we will never use it as a whole character unless the person’s biography is what is being written, and then the truth should be followed to a “T”.

Most of us waste what we are given daily as a writer. We rarely hold onto as much as we should. We probably, should be keeping diaries, notebooks or journals in order to have the ability to recall those magnificent characters that walk in and out of our lives. They’re everywhere, use them.


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