Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Birth of Character

So I am currently taking a Fiction Seminar and a Poetry Seminar on campus and one thing that is continually coming up in my writing and in others is the use of characterization. There are many factors that are imperative to a story, but characters are at the top of the list. What I love about characters is how they develop: what they look like, what they sound like, who their friends are. . . you get the idea. But my most favorite thing about characters is bringing them to life for my readers. Making someone who doesn't technically exist, come off the page and be alive for the reader.

This is an exercise I had to do for a Beginning Short Story class my Junior year. . . it's one of my favorites and I keep coming back to her, because I want to know her story. . . she just hasn't shown me yet.

I am hustling down the street as dark thunder clouds loom over me. I can smell rain, you know that stench that fill the air of earthworms protruding from their nestled mud-filled homes in the ground. As I look up to check for car; look left, then right; I spot her from across the bustling, noisy street corner.

She is looking down at her feet with a dark green, over sized men's raincoat on. The hoot is up, but I see her shiny, exquisite locks of coal black hair hug her cheeks. Her face, as she looked up and quickly makes eye contact contact with me, is oval, with high, delicate cheek bones. She has fiercely green eyes, but what steals my breath from from throat, more than anything else, are the tracks of her mascara stained tears racing down her face.

"Do you need help?" I find myself wanting to yell over to her, but I am speechless, captivated, mesmerized.

As I take a step to move across the street, a bus rolls to a loud, screeching stop where the mysterious woman stands. I freeze in my hurried steps as she climbs aboard the safety of a bus with high backed seats and rough, gray carpeting.

She walks, eyes to the floor, stops, shuffles some more, then takes a seat in the very last spot. As the bus lets on other passengers I move so that I am facing the great back window that holds this stranger in its warmth.

I look up and find her staring back at me. In awe I realize, more than her looks or tear stained face, her hands will be what will hold and haunt me every day now; she puts the frail, thin hands up against the glass. I see several thin, fine silver bands on her praying-mantes like fingers. Her palms are etched with life lines that hold strong memories, torrid love stories; but it is her fingertips that burn into my memory. Fingertips so very red- blood red, and raw- It is as if someone attempted to scald away her identity.

So, who do you think is waiting to be written?

-Stephi D.

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