Creative Writing Advice # 13: Surprise! It’s your Character!


Writingsecrets_c By FirstYearGrad

The better we know someone, the more they surprise us with their inconsistencies.

I once worked with a woman who color-coded her desk drawers. She sorted her pens and pencils into three separate holders, depending on the duty they were to perform, and never thought to put a plastic coated paper clip into the same pot as the shiny silver wires.

One day I agreed to pick her up for work. When I got to her house, I was shocked to see that her kitchen table was covered with last night’s dishes, and her sink was full of even older dishes. A great orange tabby cat walked up and down the counter, carefully picking its way around newspapers and old mail. The floor may have been clean, but it was hard to see it under the pile of dirty laundry.

Now, if I had put this woman into a story before I visited her house, her character would have been flat, one-sided, and uninteresting. As I got to know her better, she surprised me all the time with new sides to her personality.

So, writer, know your character — and you best know them better then that person you sit next to at work.

Desperately Seeking FirstYearGrad

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-- Melissa

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