September 15, 2016

Writing Character

I wasn’t looking to create a character to use in my writing, but he came into my life unexpectedly.

While I was at the grocery store standing in line to check out, I waited behind a woman with a full cart of soft drinks, Tidy Cat Litter, and cans of Fancy Feast.  Ahead of her was a woman paying for a bouquet of yellow-orange sunflowers.  It was going to be a while before it would be my turn.  I politely asked a grocery store employee if she could find someone to open another register.  In less than two minutes, she found someone to open the adjacent register. 

The man in line behind me rushed to the register.  You would have thought it was a race and he was going to win a prize.  Wow—how can anybody be that impatient and rude?  

As he began to unload his cart, I noticed that he was a bald, thirty-something kind of guy who wore a white-shirt, plaid shorts, flip flops and black glasses.  He never offered or insisted to go before him.  No, as I reached to place a separator behind his groceries he snapped at me.  “I have a large order.”  Translation:  I’m first therefore, you must wait until I empty my entire cart.  Translation:  You are impinging on my space on the conveyor belt.  Translation:  It's my conveyer belt.

Nervy.  

I ignored his comment and pushed his items forward (taking care not to roll his watermelon onto the loaf of bread) so I could unload my basket.  I did not make eye contact.  I did not tell him what I thought of him.  But oh, how I wanted to.   (Past experiences have taught me not to open my mouth).  The checker commented on his behavior, which made me feel better. 

So obviously, this guy ruffled my feathers.  But I decided to take this negative encounter and turn it into something positive, something good for my writing:

He showed me how to create a setting with conflict.
He showed me what a discourteous character might physically look like.  
He showed me how one acts and what one might say.  
He showed me exactly how to portray a totally inconsiderate dude. 

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