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.
As 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.