Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Characters Have No Character

The smoke from his mouth disappeared into the stiff breeze that ruffled his hair and played with the hem of his long coat. He pulled hard at the last bit of the cigarette and then with his latex gloved hand, he ground the stub into the ashtray. Nodding at a passerby, he stripped off the glove and stuffed it into the trash can under the ashtray. Shrugging his shoulders, he eased his overcoat to a more comfortable fit and walked on.
I love watching people. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few interesting and downright quirky people (as was the guy above) that I would love to put in my writing. But I have problems finding the words to describe what I see. And, when it comes to making those characters “pop” in the scene, I fail miserably. I think my problem is that while I see what people do, I don’t understand their “why.”

My favorite books have characters that by the end of the story are almost solid. They are consistent. They have plausible personalities. They could be your neighbor (god help you). It’s like the author climbed into their bodies and hijacked them. I envy that. So, I’m off to try yet another character writing exercise.