Your mother was right.
Shocking, isn’t it? It shouldn’t be. You know all that stuff she said about “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Turns out that she has a point. The example I have in mind, of course, is with Belynda’s ability to pull an Ella Fitzgerald out of absolutely nowhere. Looking at her, you’d think, “Hey, she’s a fun gal. Cheerful, funny, neat husband.” You probably wouldn’t think “Give her a piano player, and she’ll blow your mind.” Maybe you should head over to Brandon’s post on Extant Musings, and see for yourself. He puts it much more eloquently than I could here.
It brings me to an interesting thought, though: how well do you know everyone you know? Think about it. Your friends: do they sing? Anyone draw or paint? Write? What if someone can actually dance, or is freakishly good with numbers? What does your mechanic read? Dan Brown perhaps? Or is it Dante? Have you ever taken a person out of their normal, natural enviroment, and put them in a new and different one to see how they behave? Karaoke night? Nano Wrimo?
I think for anyone who writes – short stories, novels, biops – it’s an important thing to remember that people have sides of themselves that you never actually see except in out-of-the-ordinary situations. Giving your characters something unexpected – mastery of cooking with asparagus, maybe? – rounds them out and give them three dimensions. Not to mention, it keeps things interesting for your readers (and for you), so that way everyone is happy and keeps on working through your story.
When you stop and think about it, that’s probably why the savior stories are so popular. You know the ones…unassuming guy/girl is suddenly thrust into an extraordinary situation and has to save the world (or, at least, a family, a town, a farm…what have you). The fact that the story plays it as “this person is just like you!” is what makes it so interesting, and what people latch onto. The quirks make the characters, and the characters make the story.
I’m not sure just how coherent all of that was. I just hope it was “very.” I’ll probably be revisiting this subject later on, when I’m thinking a bit more clearly. And I do plan on discussing writing more, since it’s such a big part of my life. For now, though: the people you’ve known all your life, or even just for a little bit of it…have they surprised you with what they can do? Tell me stories in the comments (and the one about Belynda singing doesn’t count, since I already told it to you (unless you read Brandon’s post first (or if you’re Belynda or Brandon, in which case you’d know anyway))).