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When Characters Surprise Us

It's been a while since my last post.  I accompanied hubby to a Expo in Vegas last week and his schedule kept me hopping. There are so many interesting things to do and see there that I'd need a few months to make the rounds.

 I was introduced to and interacted with dozens of new people.  During our conversations, I couldn't help but notice the characteristics or traits that made each person unique.  For example,I met a smart, cute, southern blonde woman with a bubbly personality.  I soon learned that she was a stay-at-home mom.  Most of our conversation revolved around soccer, baseball, school and grades.  She had strong religious beliefs which I learned about in the first five minutes of conversation. At first I thought her a simple person, but as I got to know her, I learned that she liked fine wine, enjoyed gourmet food (who doesn't???), read a lot and was informed on local and national news. Though at first, her soft, southern manner, simple attire and strong focus on all things children caused me to think her tastes were less refined, I soon learned nothing was further from the truth. She was a complex individual.  I know, I know, that's what I get for judging a book by the cover.

Another guy that stood out to me was a  young, short, red-headed salesman from West Virginia   This guy talked my ear off.  There wasn't a a subject he didn't have an opinion on and he seemed to know everyone he ran into.  If he didn't, by the end of the conversation, he could tell you the stranger's life story. His personality took up all the space in the room.  Initially, I thought, what a blow hard, but after talking to him for a while, he grew on me.  Despite his forward and boisterous manner, I couldn't help but like this guy. There was something very disarming about him.  So much so that I found myself opening up to him.  He never graduated college, but he would have made a great Public Relations student if he had.  

After meeting these two people, I realized they were nothing like I originally thought. This feeling of surprise was refreshing, so much so that it sparked conjecture about the characters in my novel.  As the reader peels back the layers of my characters persona,  I want them to say, whoa, there's a lot more to him/her than I gave them credit for.  Similar to the reaction I had to the above mentioned people, when a character does something unexpected or turns out to be far different than I thought, I want to read further and get to know them better.  When I conduct the final edits on my novel, this is something I will definitely try to achieve.  How about you all, what do think makes a character interesting?  Is it the unexpected changes in personality, that big surprise, their quirks, eccentricities? I'd be interested to know what you think. Until next time, happy writing.


  1. I think for me, it's always the big surprise. Everyone has a secret and when it's blown, the repercussions are usually pretty solid.

    1. Agreed, Anne. The element of surprise is important for turning pages. As always, thanks for stopping in to comment on my post. All the best.

  2. I never gave it much thought but of course you're right. The character should develop and surprises and flaws add to the overall appeal.

    I always find it fascinating what people tell you about themselves.

    You did NOT want to be anywhere near me during the first 5 years following my son's death, especially if I had a glass of wine or two. It was all I could talk about. I could make anyone cry. And then that story would morph into Burning Man stories which are so far fetched that people have a hard time grasping the concept. And now, I try very hard NOT to talk about my cancer. Lucky for me, enough strange things happen to me that I try to keep my conversation current.

    1. Yes, Green Monkey, it is amazing how much people share with strangers. I guess there's no pressure. Usually it's someone you'll never see again so you think, "What the heck." Sounds like you've gone through a lot in your life. Hopefully the hurricanes over and the rainbow is on the rise. Wishing you all the best on your journey to good health.

  3. I enjoyed reading your observations. Visiting from Alex's IWSG. I remember the first time a character did something unexpected, and I felt like wow, now I'm a real writer. I'd heard of it happening, but found it a bit hokey until it happened to me :-)
    Nice to meet you.
    Tina @ Life is Good

    1. Nice to meet you too, Tina. I understand where you're coming from here. It's difficult to get how a character can surprise you until it does. The world of a writer is certainly interesting.
      I was out of town and did not get a chance to post for the ISWG, but appreciate your visit. Hope to post tomorrow. Looking forward to getting to know you.

  4. humanity is unpredictable, no one lives in cliches :)

    1. So true, SJP. Thanks for stopping in to comment on my post.


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