Life’s little moments – the ones that make you turn ruby red and you wish the earth would swallow you whole, aren’t always the disasters we see them as. Sometimes those little gems are the ones that inspire a story. Linda’s embarrassing moments certainly have. Even if she isn’t using her embarrassing moments, Linda still takes a unique approach to get to know her characters.
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I want to thank Linda for sharing how she writes her characters. The post is all yours; take it away Linda!
When I create characters, I always try to imagine either their funniest incident or most embarrassing moment. From there, I imagine how he or she dealt with that event and then I have the kernel for that character. Often, the character’s reaction to the event proves to be the reason he or she makes a transformative change. I have had this fact confirmed by various writing craft books I read over the years. But I learned this truth the hard way.
I majored in Business Administration in college at a time (1970s) when the number of females enrolled in my degree program was only a small minority. Maybe I should take a step back and state that I was a shy and quiet child (middle between an older and younger sister). So quiet that some of my parents’ acquaintances were surprised when I appeared at a Little League game my dad coached or at the neighborhood swimming pool. See, they knew about my more outgoing sisters, just not me because I spent most of my time reading.
Fast forward to college and the requirement to give an oral presentation on a company of our choice—I think it was a financial analysis. I was the sole female student in the class. Of course, I chose the last possible day on the schedule. I remember my grip on the edges of the podium was so tight, my knuckles ached. My face flushed, my stomach knotted, my mouth dried, and I stumbled over the last few lines of the report. I remember looking up, seeing big black dots, and asking “Any questions?” And then I fainted dead away, taking down the podium on top of me.
To this day, I remember the embarrassment of lying on the classroom floor and having the instructor hover over me until a nurse arrived with a wheelchair. The humiliation of being wheeled through the campus and waiting in the Student Health Center until I was checked out and my boyfriend came to get me. Needless to say, I turned in my final paper under the instructor’s office door and skipped the last class session. A decade later, I used this story when I was next required to speak in a public setting—my first meeting as president of a volunteer group. You know what they say about starting a speech with a joke. Now, I’m using the story as a fun fact.
I used that incident—at least, the embarrassment part—when I created the first meeting in ten years of characters who used to be a couple in high school. This is from On With The Show, released by The Wild Rose Press in November 2012.
I will be giving away a copy of this story to one chosen from those who leave a comment on this blog or who friend my Facebook page and leave an email address.
Every Thanksgiving, Franzi Mueller returns to her hometown, Freedom Valley, to help with a musical show put on at the veteran’s hospital. After a decade of living in Houston, Franzi starts feeling nostalgic for the sense of community of her small Texas town. Too bad Mama has decided to play matchmaker and keeps pushing together Franzi and her ex-high school beau, Dietz Reinhardt. Local hardware store owner Dietz can see that her big city clothing designer job has worn Franzi down and he’s doing what he can to ease her load. Circumstances throw them together at every turn, and every glance and each touch ignites the old sparks. Can Franzi find what her creative spirit needs in Freedom Valley? Is time running out on this second chance for Dietz to win over her heart?
“Closing in five minutes.”
That deep voice she remembered so well. A quick glance told her not much had changed in the store’s decor. A little bit of everything and not much of anything. She forced a smile and strode to the wooden counter on the platform that stood half a foot higher than the floor. The man who’d spoken had his back to the door, a broad back that stretched the black t-shirt imprinted with Reinhardt’s Hardware, family owned since 1854. A fact the Reinhardt family was immensely proud of, but the crux of the reason she and Dietz had gone their separate ways. “Hello, Dietz.”
“Franziska Mueller…to what do I owe this pleasure?”
The smile on his lips didn’t reach his blue eyes. A fact she knew was totally her fault. “I just came in on the westbound train for my Thanksgiving visit and nobody was there to meet me. Erich Bruno happened by and he was driving me out to the ranch when he had to respond to a call.” Again, she sounded pathetic. Inside her coat pockets, both hands drew into fists. God, facing him one-on-one was harder than she’d thought it would be. “Can I use your phone?”
“Pay phone’s outside the door.”
Her body tightened. “What is with this town and pay phones?” She paced a couple steps and back. “Normally, I’d use my cell but the battery needs charging. I don’t have coins for a call.” Could she sound any more unprepared for life?
“So, you’re askin’ for a favor?” A black eyebrow arched over crystal blue eyes and he leaned an elbow on the counter. “Is that what I’m hearing?”
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