Friday, September 27, 2013

Hello everyone, Di Riley here.

Characters.....
Adam’s ‘what if’post (September 16) made me think about the characters in my stories and how they come to life.

The short answer is 'people watching'.

I could leave my post there really, but so much more fun to walk you down the streets of my mind and how people watching works for me.


When I was sixteenish, a friend in our youth group was doing her HSC. Her parents said she had to break off her relationship with the guy she was going out with so she could concentrate on her study. 
(Very traumatic for us all at the time, after all he had just given her a ‘friendship’ ring!)
I was outraged and saddened for my friend.  So I penned my frustrations in a story (changing the names to protect the innocent!).
It was there my first characters were given life in my imagination.
The story hasn't seen the light of day yet – it is in the ‘ready for the professional editor’ folder.
(Although you will be pleased to know, an amazing HSC mark was achieved, the couple resumed their relationship and they have been married for over 30 years now!)

For seven years I worked as an office lady in a K – 12 school.  A treasure trove of situations, dilemmas, heroes and heroines were before my people watching eyes every day!
Student trauma over mobile phone usage soon had me typing away, my son and his friends provided much of the story line. 
Oh and what about relationships – school is the perfect place to find some characters to write about, deaths and romances for the unsuspecting teachers, parents and students!

Church can be an interesting place to find characters too.  People losing faith, finding faith and walking through life’s difficulties whose own characters are being built along the way in my imagination. 

I now work in customer service, the tangled webs of people's lives, gives me an enormous panorama to let my people watching eyes meander over.

My parents have moved into a retirement village, from the staff to the ‘inmates’ (as I call my folks….good naturedly!) there is information a-plenty for fabulous inheritance squabbles and family tension to be relieved with a happily ever after ending.

Hope you have found this little piece amusing (maybe inspiring?), it is confidential, but perhaps you should look out if I meet up with you at conference, something you do or say might just end up in a story!

(Names and places changed for protection of the innocent, naturally!)  


21 comments:

  1. A fun post, Di, and as a people-watcher from way back, I totally identify!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Dianne, it sounds like you've had an interesting career with perfect opportunities for character building (and I mean that both ways :) I also like watching people and anonymously bring their examples into my talks at women's events. Life is full of real-life drama; no need to look elsewhere for inspiration. Thanks for your humorous post! Looking forward to the next one. Blessings...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks girls.....nice to have a little laugh along the way!

    Margaret I have had some wonderful character building (both ways) opportunities.....
    Luci Swindoll says "Nothing is wasted in God's economy" and it is the truth!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like your rather unique green man, Di. He reminds me of one-eyed jealousy. Yes watching folks' expressions is enlightening also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rita....the little green guy is my drawing of Mike out of Monsters Inc....great kid's movie!
      Your view of him as Jealousy kind of fits well....jealousy can be a monster!

      Delete
  5. Thanks Dianne. That was lovely. I think I had better watch out if I meet you at the conference. Who knows where I end up! :) Jokes apart - yes, we writers have so much fodder for our writing at our fingertips don't we? I know we need to be observant in order to become better writers. I think I need to do it more. Thanks for your post Dianne. It was very enlightening and entertaining! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad it was entertaining Anusha.....what I was hoping for!
      Don't be too worried about meeting me :-)

      Delete
  6. I agree Di. People watching is the basis of research for characters - such variety and interesting personalities - all grist for the mill. Hopefully most readers can't recognise themselves, but it is good if they identify with characters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great way of putting it Carol, to identify with characters can be a sign of a great story you want to keep reading!

      Delete
  7. It's a fun hobby, people watching, and when you can use the skill in stories, so much the better. Thanks for the post, Dianne.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks Di. I think all writers must be secret people watchers. I was in a Korean café waiting for my takeaway the other night, when a petite woman walked in wearing what could only be described as a white bathmat with applique. I immediately reached for my notebook and jotted that down for a future story :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How fantastic!
      I also belong to the fashion police (in my mind), so that outfit would have definitely gotten a ticket from me! Thanks for sharing your Korean cafe experience!

      Delete
  9. Since I'm presenting a seminar at the upcoming CALEB Conference in Brisbane on 'Creating Characters from Real Life', this blog certainly resonates with me, Di! Preparing my input made me stop and think of the ways I do that in my own writing---and people watching is definitely a big part of that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope your preparation is going well Jo-Anne.
      Wish I was able to be at the seminar!

      Delete
  10. Oh yes, Di. Thanks. I was thinking about this earlier today while watching someone at the supermarket.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dale when my 21 yr old son was young we used to play a game in the supermarket. I would give him a list of things people might have on and he had to find them.....kept him amused and me able to whisk our shopping into the trolley! Fascinating Fashion show at the supermarket! (or a Korean cafe as Nola posted)

      Delete
  11. Schools are great places to observe people. People who work in the office see it all. I'll bet you have several book's worth of inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely Elaine! Dramas a-plenty!
      It was a K-12 school too.....teenage girls - just fabulous!
      Although just as entertaining with the Kindy kids (or perhaps even more...their parents!)

      Delete
  12. Glad that my post inspired you a bit Di. You have now inspired me, to take better notice of the people around me to help develop characters. I am not a very observant person (not good for a writer) so time to work on that. Good fun post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. glad you found it 'fun' my intention fully!

      Delete