It seems like everyone is reading “Outlining your novel” by KM Weiland lately. Or maybe it is because I am reading it that I keep noticing the book on blogs and buses and twitter. I am on the character creating section and it has me questioning how I create characters and how to add depth to them.
Characters are people. Sort of. And to make truly great characters they should have the quirks and follies of real people. So, sometimes, I kinda stare at people when they do something weirdly interesting. Sometime it is a physical trait, sometimes it is the motion of their hands, sometimes it is the way they giggle.
And sometimes, like today it is posture and the way people walk.
I went to the library to read at lunchtime today. It is pouring rain here on the west coast. Not complaining, will take it any day over the white stuff, regardless, it is pouring today and this turns the library into a safe haven and brings in people looking for a dry spot.
Normally there are two bored security guards talking about video games standing at the main entrance of the library. Today, the guards were surrounding someone and a plainclothes cop stood firmly in front of this curly-haired agitated man. I walked past them quickly. But really, I kinda wanted to stop and eavesdrop. Cops at the library? What did the man do? Not pay his library fines? Refuse to shush? Steal a book? What?!!!!
Curiosity unsatisfied I took the elevator to the 5th floor and found an empty spot behind the Arts & Crafts stacks to read my book. When my timer went off (yes, I set a timer or else I would never return to my office) I made my way back to the escalators and that is when I noticed her. I have no idea who she is or why she did this but her actions were so … unusual.
She was walking slowly, grocery bag in hand, purple knit hat sitting low on her head, almost but not quite covering her eyes. A man turned the corner to pass her and as he went by she froze. And I mean froze, the same way a squirrel freezes when you walk by: quickly and absolutely. The second the man was gone she moved again. Her steps were measured: quick, quick, slow. And then someone went to pass her again. She scuttled close to the wall and once again- froze. She reminded me of one of the statue people at the park, except she was tracking the motion of the person passing with her eyes. There wasn’t a look of fear in her eyes and she looked in no way distressed – she just tracked. And then moved on. And froze.
She did this three more times, including with me!
And every time she froze my brain went: “omg omg I need to write a character who does this!!!”
The second I got off the escalator I pulled out my phone and madly tapped out a character sketch. There is a spot in my novel where my characters need to be rescued. She would be the perfect character to rescue them!
And as I stood there, madly typing away, out of the corner of my eye I see a man approach me: reed thin, carrying heavy book-filled bags, and step-marching. Knees high in the air.
It seems that in order to be at the library today you had to march to the beat of your own drummer. And that totally made my day because I now have an awesome new character to play with – yeay!!!
So please excuse me if I stare.