Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dropping Clues About Our Characters

Portrait de la belle-fille de Maxim Gorki --Motherhood--by Boris Dmitrievich So I was in the grocery store….again….(must make more lists) and was nearly run down by a little guy pushing a shopping buggy that was bigger than he was.

“Benjamin! Watch our for the mommy!” fussed his mother before apologizing to me.

She kept on scolding, “Honey, you can’t just go running through the store with the cart! You could have hurt this mommy.”

I was—quickly—walking away by this point, but I was struck by the fact that the woman had pegged me, twice, as a mother.

As far as I’d known, I hadn’t put on a “Hello, My Name is Mommy” nametag before leaving the house.

I didn’t have a child with me.

But—I was at the grocery store in the middle of the morning on a work day. I didn’t look at all professional—I wore my usual uniform of a cotton v-neck tee shirt, shorts, and flip flops. And I’m sure I looked distracted— par for the course for most moms. I hadn’t slept well (which is completely normal for me) so there were circles under my eyes. I had “Mini-Moos” green and yellow yogurts in my cart and “Goldfish”-type crackers.

The clues were all there, despite the lack of children.

That’s what I’m aiming for with my character descriptions. I want the clues to be there. I want the reader to pick up on the hints and feel clever about their deductions.

Some things have to be told, but it’s a lot more fun planting clues about our characters for the readers to discover.

Next time I’m at the store, I’m wearing a dress, though.