Friday, May 8, 2015

Character Acting

Each of my novel’s characters started out as a composite collection of people I’ve come across in some way in real life. I picked a personality trait here; an odd bit of history there; mixed in a different job or career choice; and, with the aid of my stash of magazine clippings for facial features, came up with a new person. Someone I had to get to know.

It has taken time, but it’s worked out pretty well. I have a cast of characters that I can count on. I set up the scene, give them a goal, and let them go to work. I know how they’ll talk to each other and move around. I sometimes get a bit of surprise when they provide fresh insights on how things should go. It’s a surprise that has always turned into a pleasure. They know their stuff.

Now, take my 103-year-old retired teacher. She objected to being called honey by the 22-year-old protagonist. Seemed like a reasonable point to for an oldie to make. I thought it a good bit of business and left it at that.

The surprise, in this instance, came then it started happening to me.

In the past month, I’ve been called honey and dear numerous times while I was checking out at the grocery store and waiting at counters in coffee shops. I seem to have made this transition to cute, familiar pet names. Maybe my hair has suddenly gotten grayer. Maybe I’ve started looking more confused than what has been normal for me. One thing for sure, I can identify with Pearl’s annoyance.

The only difference is that I let these incidents go without saying anything. Pearl doesn’t do that. She speaks her mind. Ya gotta love a character that can fill in a personality void.

I just hadn’t counted on life imitating art. Or is it art imitating life? I am getting a little confused.

I will endeavor to be true to myself and let my characters be true to themselves within their story world. Each to our own. 

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