Life in progress

Private Thoughts, Private World – Part 4 – Characters

18 Comments

In recent weeks of perusing different WordPress sites, I have come across on a few occasions writers talking about character development and how they will sometimes watch people and make up stories for them. I do this often. I get endless enjoyment from watching people’s mannerisms and body language as they relate to others.

I remember one instance when a friend and I were sitting on a park bench at a local public rose garden. We had been resting in quiet companionship for some time, enjoying being outdoors near dusk listening to the birds sing and watching people stroll through the park. There was one family I vividly recall – at least I assumed they were a family – a mother, a father and a son who pulled up in a car across the street. They got out and entered the park gates. The boy, around eleven years old, ran ahead seeming happy to be there. The mother followed, her nose in the air enjoying the fresh fragrance of the roses in full bloom and the father lagged behind. Observing them, I leaned toward my friend and commented that the man didn’t look like he wanted to be there. Even though none of them spoke there was just something in the man’s gait, in the way he looked straight ahead and in the way he held his arms at his sides even though the pockets of his shorts gaped as if they were the natural resting place for his hands. As I watched him some more I leaned again to my friend and said, ‘I bet he’d rather be at home watching the baseball game on TV.’

I thought, what a character this man could make! Even if I were to tell his story from that moment on I could imagine that perhaps he was angry because he had a bet on the game and wanted to see his team win. Or that he loved watching baseball because it was the last thing he ever did with his own father before he died. Or that his own father would be disappointed in him, as he usually was as he grew up, because his father said he was a momma’s boy – just the same as his own son was growing up to be, having fun in a rose garden of all places! The boy should be watching the game with his dad, not asking to be driven all the way across town to look at roses with his mother!

If I were to make a character of this man whose world and thoughts I had surmised, I might not use any of these stories of his past in my tale. But knowing his past, and having a past already fitted to the reason for his present mannerisms I would know how he would react in any given situation. This, I find, is what gives a character dimension beyond the singular.

This recollection of mine has left me again to wonder just how private our thoughts and our world are. Yes, I might be (read: probably am) wrong in my imaginings of this man. But then again, in a perfect if sad conclusion to this episode, as my friend and I were walking home from the park, a car passed us with the very same family in it. The man was screaming at the top of his lungs at his family.

True story.

For Part 4 of Private Thoughts, Private World I decided to go off on a bit of a tangent due to a comment over in Ionia Martin’s blog a couple of days ago. The above is what I came up with.

Author: LindaGHill

There's a writer in here, clawing her way out.

18 thoughts on “Private Thoughts, Private World – Part 4 – Characters

  1. Great blog, it reminds me of when my children were young. We would play a game where we created stories about people or families we observed at the mall or in a park. It taught my children to be good observers of those none verbal clues.

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    • The power of observation is a valuable tool for many reasons, and one that more of us should teach our kids. You reminded me of an instance where I wish I’d waited until my oldest was a little more discrete before I did so though. Thank you! Maybe I’ll write a post about that later ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Thank you! I’ll be sure to take a look ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. So nicely done. Thank you for sharing…
    If you’ve an inclination, see my posts at http://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com and/or http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com (just press the blog buttone on the ‘home’ page).
    My very best wishes.

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  4. Love this! Observation brings out the best in some characters and the worst in others. Seeing that your intuition was correct speaks volumes ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • As much satisfaction as it gave me to see that I was right I wished it wasn’t so. I only hope my story might help other writers to see what they might be missing.
      Thanks for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Loved it – way to go, I reckon ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. And who knows, maybe the family had placed tacks on his seat because they wanted to cause him pain being that they noticed he was upset in the park and that’s not what they wanted? Maybe he was saying, “Next time I’ll be a good boy!”

    You never know!

    Really good, deep observation. Loved reading it.

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  7. Reblogged this on gerhogan and commented:
    found a new button, and like l’oreal, i think you’re worth it, taken from lindaghill, many thanks!

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  8. Fascinating – I think body language is very telling, but you were very perceptive picking it up. Maybe thats part of what makes a writer – those observational skills, curiosity about others, and analytical/empathic awareness, that allows you to see the clues others might miss and make etraordinarily accurate readings of people…like a special type of other-person-centred viion or something. Great post, real food for thought! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
      It’s true, being a writer means having to be able to put into words what people do, and so what better way to hone that skill than to observe? Like anything else it takes practice.

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  9. Reblogged this on readful things blog and commented:
    Amazing thoughts

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