Sunday, September 30, 2012

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.