Because I’m A Writer #amwriting #characterization

Yes, I’m a ghoul. Not being funny for once. This has been one hell of a week for character study.

There was that car wreck we were in. I was posting about doors, so I didn’t post about the people, but I’m telling you now: there were people.

boomAs soon as our car stopped sliding, we got out. The lady whose truck hit us got out of her vehicle before we got out of ours. Her first concern had been for her own kids, which was proper, but her second concern was to see if we were all right. She didn’t come roaring over to cuss us out for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she came over to see if we needed help.

By the time we got out of the car, the intersection was lined with parked cars and motorists who had stopped to see if anybody needed assistance. One woman was out directing traffic. She had a buzzed head with a long curl hanging down the nape of her neck and single-color tattoos on both upper arms. She had called the police already. She stayed until the police and EMTs arrived.

The cop who showed up was calming and gentle. He did his business quickly and courteously. The EMTs were the same, reassuring, efficient, and kind. The one who rode with me to the hospital and shared pictures of his grandbaby stuck around until he was certain I was checked in and being seen to, and only then did he leave. The doctor was brisk but connected. She made eye contact and took exactly as much time as necessary to be certain we understood one another every step of the way.

Our #1 Daughter and her husband, whom we called from the accident scene, were away from home. Our grandson tried to call them, but they had left their cell phones in the car. He called a friend who was with them and who had his cell phone with him, and they got our message and came to the scene to pick up #4 Daughter and her fella, who were still at the scene, having stayed to get her car towed away.

Meanwhile, guess what? Tattoo lady came back by and offered them a lift to Louisville.

Now, you tell me: How many great characters can you find in that sequence, and how many great story seeds?

Then there was the election and its fallout. If you aren’t on Facebook, you may not know how many people are showing pain in so many positive, negative, appropriate, inappropriate, healing, and divisive ways. Character study? Oh, my dear god in heaven.

If, like me, you believe that even light fiction should have heart, I beg you to not ignore the character study available all around you all the time. Studying how the people around you behave and winkling out why they behave those ways will not only enrich your fiction, it just might enrich your life, as well.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Look. Listen. Think. Feel.




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Because I’m A Writer #amwriting #characterization

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 14, 2016 at 1:10pm

      So happy to have them to notice! 🙂 And I thank you and appreciate you and all my commenters who have popped by to wish me well. You comfort my heart, all of yez.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  1. KatFrench

    November 14, 2016 at 9:46am

    In the words of Nora Ephron’s mom, “Everything is copy.”

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Jane

    November 14, 2016 at 10:23am

    Good thoughts and a good post.

    I have finally stopped drinking (around yesterday morning) and am set on getting back on keel. This means I’ve constructed a narrative in my head about how the *&^% this happened, and I’m trying to soldier on anyway.

    I love the way everybody took care of you guys. It eases my mind about worrying how it fell out for you. In my case, the insurance company lady stayed on the phone with me for almost an hour, being sure I was okay, and arranging for the tow, etc. Her sympathy was the best part, of course. She stayed with me until the tow happened and I was headed home. Sigh.

    Chin up. Character study is what we need now, isn’t it? Maybe a brisk study of our own would help a bit. Thanks.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      November 14, 2016 at 1:15pm

      Hooray for nice people! And booze. I only had one double … well, a double-double, actually, but it just went all Terrence on my ass, so why bother?

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. A.C.Flory

    November 15, 2016 at 4:56am

    LOvely post, Marian, and a timely reminder that the world is full of kind, generous people, we just don’t see most of them until something bad happens. I’m glad you’ve got such a rich source of new character studies but next time? How about trying /not/ using a car to get them. ;)-hugs-

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