Saturday, September 3, 2011

One Reason to Know Our Characters Well

100_5048There’s a festival of music, rides, art, and food that Matthews, North Carolina, is regionally known for.

It’s always on Labor Day weekend and it’s called Matthews Alive.  Every year there are over 200, 000 visitors to the festival. This for a suburb of Charlotte that usually only has 25,000 residents.

The cogs that keep the Matthews Alive festival turning are the volunteers.  There are a couple of local organizations that fill most of the volunteer slots.  My son belongs to both of them. :)

So I’ve got a busy weekend.  I was asked to volunteer on behalf of both Scouts and marching band.  So it was Scouts yesterday and it’ll be ticket sales for band tomorrow.

Art is one component of the festival.  I fondly hoped for my volunteer duty to incorporate the arts in some respect.

Instead, I was assigned traffic duty.

If I’d been a character in one of my own books, I’d have loved putting me in this situation.  After all---I’m an introvert who hates drawing attention to myself.  I avoid crowds at all costs.

So… why not put this person in a Day-Glo outfit in the middle of a huge crowd of people, in charge of doing something she doesn’t know how to do?

My gig tomorrow isn’t any better….ticket sales.  Have I mentioned that the left side of my brain is apparently completely missing?

This is one reason why it’s important to know our  characters well—we need to know how to stress them out.  It’s important to be able to provide little bits of tension or conflict.  It’s good to know how to trip them up, knock them off-balance, and see how they’ll react.

We can learn our characters either by doing an activity like a character worksheet (check out this link for some that might help), or by just thinking about our character and how they might act in different situations.  We could even walk through our usual day, with a virtual character….thinking about how they might react to different things we encounter that day—what would they do differently?

I did survive my stint of traffic duty.  I learned a lot, too…maybe I grew as a character. :)

How do you get to know your character?  Tormented your character lately?