If you could see me at this moment in time, you’d see a woman sitting in a large, upholstered chair that has seen better days. I’m dressed in a heavy white fleece bathrobe and sheepskin slippers. I have a computer on my lap, and beside me is my faithful little pug, Ernie snoring as he sleeps. There’s a space heater to my right which has the appearance of a real fireplace warming the living room from chilly 64 degrees to 69 degrees. One light is on. The curtain is drawn. It’s still except for the ticking of an antique clock. It’s a cozy scene. Or is it?
When you look at this scene, what do you think is going on? Do you think I’m a lonely, pathetic woman who has nothing better to do than stare at a computer screen? Or perhaps I’m a recluse who doesn’t want human interaction. Or maybe I’m a mother who is stealing a quiet moment before her children wake. What’s the truth? This is where you come in as writers.
Look deeper. What do you really see? How is this woman interfacing with the computer and the dog? What’s she doing? Is she daydreaming while she pets the dog? Is she crying? Is she staring? Or is she actively involved with the computer? Is she Emailing or playing mindless free slots on Facebook? Or maybe she’s Skyping? Perhaps she’s writing the next great American novel. Again, it’s your choice to give her a purpose or lack of one.
As you examine this simple scene, what is more important–the physical surroundings that subliminally reveal aspects of her the personality or will you delve into the quiet thoughts of what the character is thinking. There’s no right or wrong answer–just choices. Such little decisions will influence your story. The quiet clues you leave for the reader about the character help them shape what they think about this character. Will they admire her or pity her?
Writing is the only place I know where I get to create my own world. It’s the only place I can make people do what I want them to do.I can love them or hate them. Let them live or kill them off. They must be exactly what I deem them to be. Or are your characters bossy and tell YOU what to do. Mine are such pests. They they wake me in the middle of night and demand to be written in a specific way–and believe me, they are not subtle about it.
So enjoy the day. Create a world. And if you don’t like how it turns out, there’s that wonderful DELETE key that will make it all go away.