Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Often we think what we see, the surface, defines a person. We assume. Then we learn a part of their story. The longer we know them, the more of their inner core opens up to us. The bud begins to bloom.

What do you assume about the people you might see in an airport, a mall, a restaurant, or a miniature golf course?

Take a look around you. What do they look like? What do they sound like? What's unusual about them?

Now, take the most interesting person and create a reason they might be flying that day. What would make them have to go? Are they excited, in tears, angry? You have no idea why. Start asking yourself, why would that young woman be so angry? Why now? What is forcing her to leave with everything still unresolved or is she leaving to go resolve something unexpected?

The rose above is much like a person's life. As the petals unfurl, more of the rose is revealed. The color deepens and the scent becomes alluring. What makes you interested in that particular rose? For me, it's the color and grace of the bloom. I'd write about lavender roses rather than red ones. I'd have to see several different kinds and then smell them all to find the "perfect" rose. Why, I'd even have to touch the petals to see which one is softer than all the rest. Then I'd study it intently.

As a character unfolds, so does our story. We find the person develops as we go deeper into their own experiences and how they react to those experiences.

My Grandma Nelson once had a plaque hanging in her kitchen. It was the old phrase that said to walk a mile in your brother's moccassins before you judged him. Imagine, if we walked in those shoes, how much more we could understand of each person's motivations. And that, my friends, is what we are charged with as writers. Watch the blossoms unfurl, walk in your brother's shoes, and study intently the reactions of those people we want to portray.


PS You've got to go see the funny photos I used to continue this idea over at my personal blog!


  1. Great post, Ang. And so true. I'm always seeing people and thinking of what their story could possibly be. I love to do that.
    And I like your picture, too.

  2. Awesome picture!

    I like that this post is almost a continuation of Mindy's from yesterday. I'm working on my characters goals, motivations and conflicts now. In previous works, I've just sat down and written the story in my heart. Then I would be frustrated when I finished and the book was all over the place.

    I'm a pantzer trying to get organized to be a plotter. I want my characters to unfurl-as Angie puts it :)- as the reader experiences the story.

  3. Let the unfurling begin! This was a great post, Angie. You're right. We so often just look at the superficial. Yet there is so much more. And we need to transpond that to our writing.

  4. Hee Hee, it was a continuation from Mindy's. So you see, she helped me unfurl:-)

    I joined Shoutlife today, whew, that's cool and wild!

    I have another post on my personal blog that continues this idea. Just had fun with it today:-)