Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Signs of Characters

One of my biggest challenges when writing - besides coming up with a plot and figuring out names and getting over the procrastination and feeling like I need to hide when I write a love scene - is finding ways to reveal character. Not the big actions and choices they make, but the fun, quirky details that make you nod and say, oh yeah. I KNOW this person.

Luckily for me, the universe decided to give me a great example.

Two or three weeks ago, I spotted a sign on a neighbor's lawn. It proclaimed, in giant letters:   
My fantasy football team really sucked this week. 
I laughed and drove on. It wasn't until later that I thought, dang. I learned a lot about this neighbor without exchanging a word.
  • He's in a fantasy football league.
  • He might not be very good at it. (Final judgment reserved until I see how many times the sign appears on his lawn.)
  • He's not ashamed to poke fun at himself.
  • He accepts the consequences of his actions.
  • He probably has a great sense of humor.
I loved it. All that insight from one sign! I immediately began planning to have every character in every book I ever write take part in a fantasy football league. (You think I'm kidding, don't you?)

But the story doesn’t end there.

The sign popped up in a couple of other places around the neighborhood. Each time I saw it, I laughed. Then it moved to a different home – but with a difference. At this latest residence, the word SUCKED was covered with tape. The sign now read: 
My fantasy football team really was sad this week.
A tiny difference, right? Two little words. But I have a very different view of that neighbor than I do of the others.

I doubt I'll ever come up with something that inspired to give insight into my characters, but I must say, it was fascinating to see the difference that was created by two little words. My question for all of you: which of those neighbors would you would like to live beside?

EDITED TO ADD: Guess what? The sign moved and changed again! This morning it was on a different yard. Now it says,
My fantasy football team really needs a new coach.

I love watching how this develops!


Mary Preston said...

I wish I had fun signs popping up in my neighbourhood. The first sign is certainly more inviting. The signs are quite insightful.

Kaelee said...

I read this post and went and thought about it for a bit. I think I'd like to live by the neighbor with the sign that said sucked on it. It's open and honest. The second sign seems to correct the expression sucked. I know not everyone likes that word but when talking football it fits. Then I thought about the reverse situation. The sad sign first and the sucked sign second. I'd still go for the sucked sign and neighbor connected with it.

I live with neighbors who disapprove of a lot of things our other neighbors do. It always makes you wonder what they say about you behind your back.

kris said...

Mary, they really do give you interesting insights, don't they?

Kaelee, I'm with you. I know that if there are little kids in the house, folks might not want to use that word, and I'm trying to stay open, but - yeah. It's what I would say, too :-)

Anonymous said...

The only signs I see are for political races. The Tom Tillis - Kay Hagan Senate seat.

I have enough trouble following real football. I would never play "fantasy football" But, your post did make me smile

kris said...

Tammy, yay! If I made you smile, I did my job :-)

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