Trains and Soup

In writing, you can never give too much thought to your characters.

A writer can weave a plot that has the beauty of a tapestry, but as far as the reader is concerned, it will seems like a loose mess of threads.

You can write a soul stirring theme than spans hundreds of pages before it’s revealed in its fruition, but it might just as likely bore your reader to tears.

But you can never give too much detail and life to your characters. Never once have I heard anyone complain that a imaginary person had too much character.

Plot and theme are creations of the human mind, but characters are humans themselves. An overdone plot or theme reeks of falsehood, but an overdone character reeks of truth.

Anything you learn about people in real life can be applied to your characters in stories. This is why studies in sociology, psychology, and personal observation are so important for a writer. Writing classes can tell you so much about writing and how to form words, but learning about people themselves is what makes your characters so rich.

The other day I learned something new that I think can be very valuable.

It was in an otherwise valueless article by a travel writer about her thoughts about the Southern states of America. It mentioned that the resting emotion of the Southern people was different than those from the Eastern seaboard. The resting “neutral” emotion of the Eastern seaboard is Anger or Irritation, whereas the writer of the article suspected that the default emotion of those in the South is Fear.

I have always thought that emotions immediately succeed each other like boxcars on a passing train, rather than separate events that surface like noodles occasionally rising to the top of an otherwise homogenous soup.

(Gosh, I love these similies. I don’t care if you think they’re thick and dorky. I’m writing this, and I’m enjoying myself. Just smile and let me have fun.)

It had never occurred to me that people could have a resting emotion, let alone different emotions from each other.

This opens an entire hallway of doors for characterization in our stories.

A character’s perception alters how they react to people, events, and . . . well . . . basically everything. In creating a character for your story, nothing can develop a character more quickly and with better authenticity than altering their perception.

Experiment with different resting emotions for your characters.

This is not to say that you should reduce your characters to two dimensional cardboard cutouts. And I realize that this idea is not much more than deciding a “normal mood” for the characters of your story.

But I’ve found that approaching the same problem different angles can lead to creative solutions.

Let us go and write! –BW

PS: Soon I will be deleting my old posts that dealt with the week by week adventures of Quin and Tannenbaum. They were the original format of my blog, and the next week or so will be your last chance if you want to read those stories.

Thanks for reading, dear friends.

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