Friday, May 4, 2012

Characters, they're all around us

For a while I thought about writing some paranormal story for that's trending big time right now.  Many of us aspire to write the next Twilight and to do that, we have to be at our best in creating a character.  Not an easy feat. 
But, suddenly it hit me, why do I need to invent the most beautiful vampire, sophisticated, sharp, strong, undeniably appealing, when there's an entire world full of interesting people that can easily become the basis of a character in a story?  Come to think of it, why not tell their story?
I'm thinking these things while on an errand to the supermarket.  I always cringe when my Sheri asks me to run to the store for something.  To make a long, horrid story short, let's just say I'm a victim of variety.  At least now she can text me a picture of exactly what she wants and the screw ups have minimized considerably.
I wonder if I get back home and remark about the pretty brunette on aisle 10, my Sheri will heed her possessive streak and limit my visits to the supermarket during busy hours.  I don't know that I'm brave enough to test that theory, but I think that's how Dad was able to cut off that trend.  I don't even know that he remembers what the inside of a supermarket looks like now.
While searching the dairy aisle for some sour cream, I notice that there are ten different brands to choose from, which begs the question:  what makes them different? 
Knowing my Sheri favors white and legible lettering, I go for a tub of Daisy.
Just then a woman walks by me.  She has an infant in the seat of the cart, a toddler hanging from a handful of her shirt, and the quintessential big brother and little sister of school age, that are constantly picking at each other, pointing their arguments with several loud "Mom!"s
My mind begins to write a story out of its own volition.  First, a name.  She has four kids so she's got to be one strong woman.  I'm a father of two and with one trip to the supermarket, I return home on my knees begging for mercy, while nursing a bleeding wallet.  The power of their cuteness is too much for me to overcome.
So, we'll go with something strong, like a "Sara", I like it.  Let's take it a step above and add an ambiguous H just to make it unique, let's go with Sahra.  So, Sahra has four children, that alone should say much, but we'll take it up a notch and make her not only a mom of four, but also an aspiring nurse, taking night classes.  Why does she want to be a nurse?
I almost want to ask her, but she's too busy calming the infant down, while keeping her toddler's busy hands from grabbing every block of New York Sharp cheese from the cooler.
And then I got it!  She's a widower, yes, tragic of course, but there's the motivation.  Her late husband may have survived had he received special care... mmh, we'll put him as a volunteer helping the Haiti earthquake victims when he contracted an infection that took his life.  Sahra not only wants to be a nurse, she wants to go abroad and teach nursing skills in undeveloped countries.  Wow, Sahra, what a heart you've got!
Her two older kids are trading sneaky rabbit punches at each other until the little girl connects solidly, making her brother wince.  With one frown, the little girl is off to the races leaving her mother's scream in her wake.  The girl tries looking over her shoulder and her flip flops  (worst footwear design in history) bend beneath her toes sending her headlong onto the cold vinyl floor.
Big brother stops to laugh and is rewarded with a decent smack on the back of his head. 
A well-dressed gentleman quickly helps the little girl to her feet and kindly walks her back to mom.
I'm already composing the love story between these two, but I won't cram that in this post.  I know our attention span is akin to a gnat's so by this point I may have already lost some of you.
The point of the whole mad ranting is, characters are all around us.  So don't lose heart over not coming up with the perfect vampire, or the meanest werewolf, or the funniest zombie.  Reality gives us a vast spectrum of choices and as authors, it's our job to weave them into a story. 
Of course, Sahra would make an awesome vampire, after all, if anyone needs superpowers is a single mother of four, studying to be a nurse.
And for those of you wondering, yes, Sahra is as real as you and me.  At least that's what the name on the tag pinned to the light blue scrubs she wore.
Happy Writing.

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