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People are Funny….

July 3, 2012

People are funny. Some hate crowds while others flock to every music concert in the tri-state area. Some seek to be individuals while others want to emulate their favorite idol-of-the-week. Some are quick tempered and some are so mellow you have to check to see if they can still fog a mirror.

Ever go to the grocery store and notice there are two cashiers but everyone is standing in line for one? Or, go driving and take a turn that has two turn lanes. Odds are the lines won’t be even. In fact, I’d bet dollars-to-donuts that 80% or more will be in one lane or the other.

Why? Why do people behave differently on the collective whole than on the individual?

Understanding why people act the way they do goes a long way in helping to create believable characters and believable situations but the most important thing it does is it helps us figure out how a character will react to a given situation.

If our “hero” is shy and plodding, odds are they shouldn’t be the one that rushes in to save the day. Rather, they would “fall” into that role. Knowing how people react to situations also helps to prevent us from breaking our own rules. It’s tough, sometimes. You start out one way and by the time you finish the story  your character has evolved. That’s a good thing, but did they evolve “right”?

I’m currently working on a story where the hero is a drifter. He starts the story poor, roaming the country in search of himself and his next meal. Yet, the end of the story he is sweeping the heroine off her feet and is this rich fella able to solve all of her problems. Yeah, I did it. It was akin to ending the story by saying “and then he woke up.”

I cheated. It made the ending nice and neat, but it didn’t fit, it wasn’t right. But, yet it did fit to some degree or else I wouldn’t have written it that way. Going back and re-reading it I realize I can add a bit o’ mystery to my hero be dressing up his down-trodden life style. Make his back story a bit more vague.

There are all kinds of people out there. Take a look around and see who they are. Watch how they act, how they walk, talk, and dress. I bet you’ll learn something about them and yourself in the process.

And, the next time you’re out driving, keep an eye out for that short turn lane.

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