Mostly I chose this photo because it makes me laugh, but it does work with characters. Doesn’t it?
31 30 days of reading to write is an indulgence. And a discipline.
In a class I took many moons ago, I remember reading a book on characters. I don’t remember the book or the author of the book. But I remember one lesson about creating dimensional characters. It began with a simple question:
What is in your character’s purse? Or what is in or on his nightstand?
Does your character always carry a small tube of toothpaste to cover her bulimia? Does she have pepper spray or a small pistol? Does she have pouches of tissues ready to hand to anyone sniffling? Or bottles of Purell? Does she carry a designer bag she can’t afford or a cheap knock off from the corner shop run by her ex-boyfriend?
Maybe your character has stacks of dog-eared books on the paranormal or a few well thumbed soft covered romances? Are there layers of dust on a hand crafted antique or nothing atop a squeaky clean particle board. Is the furniture draped with flowery fabric or a brass lamp? Gold coins? A deck of cards or moldy boxes of Chinese food?
Maybe these details don’t show up on your pages. But if you can answer these questions about your characters, it can help to color how you piece together your story or novel or essay.
She was the kind of woman who palmed mints from hostess stations at chain restaurants.
She was an avid reader of romance novels she tucked inside the pages of MONEY magazine.
He emptied his pockets every night onto his nightstand, and then his five kids picked over for the silver pieces first, giggling before reading.
He had a photo of his wife, yellowed and cracking and her Bible open to the last passage she read.
Make a list of of what your character would keep on her nightstand or in her purse. How does it change how you think about your character?