Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Characters We Meet
If you haven't concluded from some of my very long and rambly posts, I love to talk. But even more than talking, I love listening. I love hearing people's stories, their personal stories, their real stories.
Because the best stories come from life. You can't invent an original story in your head. It's too influenced by the stories of other writers and peers and books and novels and characters and TV shows. My teacher told me once that all writing, including fiction, is based off real life. Why? Because that is what we know best. It's easiest to write about what we know. The metaphors we make, the hyperboles we use...we use these comparisons to help us envision the subject by connecting it to something else in our own life. Everything in life is a web, somehow connected––no matter how thin the silk. So now of course you're thinking, "Who in J.K. Rowling's life inspired Harry Potter?" right?

In life, we meet lots of characters. Sometimes you see them just passing by in the grocery story, and other times you know them on a first-name basis. They add color to our lives, give us stories to tell at the dinner table. My favorites are the characters I stand next to in the clothing store line, the grumpy couple on the airplane, the people whom I know nothing about because then I am free to fabricate whatever story I want! The woman with the diamond ring around her neck wears her wedding ring on a chain so it hangs closer to her heart. She feels closer to her husband, who's off somewhere––lost, stationed in the army, but not home. So when she walks, she feels it thump against her chest and it's like hearing another heart beating––his heart beating.

One day I'm going to have a journal filled only with characters. This will be my orphanage, where they will all wait patiently but eagerly to be adopted. "Where will I be placed?"  they'll wonder. "Will I be the Knight in Shining Armor in a princess rescue story???" (I certainly hope not, because that would be terribly unoriginal.) "Will I be the heart throb?" "Will I be the next teen-sensation?" Or..."Will I be the villain?" "Will I be the bully who feeds on other's self-esteem to plumpen her own ego?" Or..."Will I be the lost one?" "The soul with a big dream but not enough support to hold it?"  When I'm writing a story or a poem or whatever it may be and I need a character, I will open my journal and read their profiles. And I don't need to take their entire profile. I can break it apart; take the Ms. Frizzle hair from an wacky elementary school teacher, the snort of a Laughy Kathy, and rearrange it like a Mr. Potato Head. 

I'm really excited because this week I started volunteering at an Assistant Living home. Already I've met so many interesting people; a woman in her 90s who walks over a mile every day. She lived in the city her entire life, and when she came to the Assistant Living home, she thought it was the farmlands. Another woman, a new resident at the home. At card-making, some people had not yet been introduced. I couldn't help but think of "the new girl in school" (not literally a new girl in my school, but like in the movies). I wondered, "Is she lonely? Nervous? Is she able to make friends? Do cliques still exist at her age?" I know I'll meet so many interesting characters during my volunteer hours, and it'll give me lots of great writing material. Plus, I'm pretty much just talking and listening to stories...what more can I ask for?!

Sweet Dreams,

Megan ;)

P.S. Did you notice? is updated. Thanks to all those who participate! Also, thanks to all of you who posted your Poems in Your Pocket last week! I had lots of fun reading them! :)


Ali said...

I remember hearing Jim Dale, the man who read the Harry Potter books for the audiobooks,talk about some of his inspiration for the characters voices. My favorite one was Dobby, who came from a short man Jim heard in the elevator. He said he had been working on the voice and just couldn't find it. Then he heard a man behind him ask in a squeaky voice say, "Could you take your bum out of my face?"

I found the link to an article about interesting voice inspirations

Megan said...

Hahaha that's so awesome!!! I read the article and it's really interesting. It's interesting to see where people get their inspiration from. When you stop and look around you, there's inspiration everywhere. All the characters and entertainment you could ever need are all around you! Thanks so much for linking this article! I think people will really enjoy it.