Tuesday, December 20, 2011

You know you're a character-intensive writer when...

My mother used to comment about how I studied people, even when I was a kid. I vaguely recall watching my parents' friends so closely that I sometimes made them uncomfortable or prompted them to ask what I was thinking about. My mother would quickly chime in that she suspected I was going to become a psychologist, and I was getting a head start studying human nature. I soon learned to people watch from the corner of my eye.

My sweet mother might have been surprised to learn I began writing instead of psychoanalyzing, creating woes for fictional characters instead of helping real people deal with theirs, but she wouldn't have been surprised that my novels are so character-focused.

We just returned from Mexican Riviera cruise. It was a great and relaxing trip, and time and time again I was reminded how I enjoy people- (and animal-) watching and speculating on motivations and lives beyond the sliver I get to witness. So:

You know you're a character-intensive writer when...

...you see a harem of seals lounging by the ocean and study them, wondering what kind of dynamics are going on.



...you wander off a cruise ship in Mexico to wade through streets lined with locals "in your face" about taking you fishing or sailing or to a beach and you look into their eyes as you say "no thanks" for the one hundredth time and wonder what their lives are like.

...you sit on the cruise ship and actively listen to conversations around you, noting what folks observe and comment on, what attracts their attention and why.

On the other hand, you know you're NOT an artist when you see incredibly beautiful or visually fascinating, colorful sights but don't want to paint or draw them, instead making mental notes of how you might describe them in words. I'm terrible about not taking pictures, but here are a few that make me wish I painted (or wanted to learn how). I'd describe them instead of posting pictures, but these shots save me 4000 words to use somewhere else. Enjoy.




7 comments:

  1. great pictures, Keith.
    Emma Lane

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  2. The photos are stunning, Keith. The one of the rocky coast reminds me of Cabo. Ralph & I walked over those rocks one day. Took us 95 minutes.

    I think your mother would be extremely proud of how you turned out. Yes, your character-driven in your writing, but you're also intuitive, kind, considerate, and honourable. She would be very proud.

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  3. Thanks, Emma and Joylene. Yes, that's Cabo San Lucas, Joylene. Incredible formation, isn't it? Thanks so much for your comments and for making me blush. *smile*

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  4. For me it used to be train journeys. As I gazed out at the houses and streets, I'd be filled with the yearning to know what life was like there and hat it would have been like if I'd grown up there.

    A picture does paint a thousand words. But, oh, how beautiful, evocative and enthralling those thousand words might be!

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  5. Hi Derek. Thanks for stopping by. Train journeys sound great for gazing and imagining (we've been thinking about one for a year or so now).

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  6. Well, I guess I'm not the only weirdo looking at packs of wild animals and trying to guess their motivation. Writers, actors, artists ... everybody looks at us cockeyed and asks, 'who cares?' I suppose the answer is anyone who wants to write believable characters. Keep up the good work!

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  7. Thanks, exlibrislarsen. Us weirdos need to stick together.

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