Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Everyone's a Character [in a book, that is]

I don’t often run into fully drawn characters in my day to day life. Most of the fictional people I’ve created do have a little bit of reality mixed into them, but they’re usually never modeled entirely after one person. It’s so much more fun to mix and match – especially with heroes...but I digress.

Yesterday, on my way into the office building where my daughter’s orthodontist runs his bustling practice, I ran smack into a character from my next story.

The perfect villainess sauntered through the lobby in her Paris Hilton glasses, silk blouse, painted on skirt and shoes that cost more than my wedding ring.

She had a cell phone jammed against her ear and her lips pressed together in a disdainful pout. She breezed by me as I blithely held the door open for her. Why did I do that? Well, because it was polite, and because I didn’t want her to break a talon trying to push the door open by herself.

I tossed a jaunty “You’re very welcome” over my shoulder as her stilettos hit the sidewalk and I’d like to think she took a moment away from pouting into her phone to say Thank you, but somehow I doubt it.

No problem. I went up to the orthodontist’s office and borrowed a piece of notebook paper from my daughter. While we waited, I scribbled the intro for my villainess while all the details were fresh in my mind.

Now, naturally, I don’t know any more about this woman than what she looked like, and that at this particular moment in time she happened to carry herself with a veneer of bored superiority and faux sophistication. For all I know, she may have been a perfectly lovely individual who was having an exceedingly bad day and she’s home right now agonizing over her inability to be polite to a stranger while she was perhaps getting dumped over the phone by her long-time boyfriend, or learning her cat had just swallowed her roommate’s canary and was even now being rushed into expensive veterinary surgery. Who knows? I’ll have to round out her personality using ingredients from other sources and hope I do her justice.

And of course for anonymity, I do plan to change the color of her blouse.

Have you ever met a character from one of your stories – complete and life size as if they’d walked out of the pages of your book? Was it before or after you'd written the character?

1 comment:

Jennifer Elbaum said...

I've had that happen a few times and it's almost always someone who pisses me off who becomes a villian.

I should really wear one of those shirts that says, "Careful, or I'll kill you in my next book".