Friday, June 01, 2007

Interesting Characters are Interesting People

At lunch I was being one of those cafe nerds with a latte, a girly salad and a laptop. I have never beofre had a salad for lunch but it had strawberries on it, and it was new. I am a sucker for anything new. And it should be good for me.

One one side of we sat a group of three ordinary looking people. One woman was telling some great stories about her child whose first sentence was a line from a Led Zeppelin song. They shared some other stories about the kid with a casual mention that she had autism. She then went on to discuss a dog attack she experienced working as a police officer and this progressed to other stories (the other two were in uniform) about dealing with difficult animals and people on the job and a guy who had recently quit the force.

One the other side was a group of women. One of them, a particularly attractive (even stunning) blonde, had her lunch in a bag and was not eating. She said, a good many times, that people nobody really understood her. She said that really quite a few times in various forms without ever actually saying who didn't understand her or just what it was they were meant to understand. Her friends ate, and little comment and didn't seem very interested. Frankly, neither was I.

I felt like leaning over to her to give the old standby advice of any writer: "show, don't tell". That and "try eating something". Next time I write a utterly gorgeous but passive and whiny character, do remind me of this. Interesting people are interesting characters. If you sat next to your hero or heroine at Panera Bread would they be worth eavesdropping? Maybe I'll see them there, I'll be the one with the triple cheese panini....


Anne D said...

The 'girls' and I get together every Friday morning when schools in at Panera. People watching is definitely on of the highlights.

I'm sure we must sound like an interesting lot sometimes as the conversations run from sex to babies to hair to downright gossip.

Anonymous said...

Definitely, those girls need to eat something. Me? I'd be the one scarfing down a sandwich with extra cheese and maybe some chips.

I've noticed Molly has gone on the supermodel diet. Two kibbles and a water, then she walks away.