Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The detail: after a two-year absence, Katie Couric was back on the set of Today.
Surely everyone has experienced such a scene: a beloved or respected (or detested) employee returns to the workplace after an absence. What's your scene like? Or imagine your own return: how do you behave? how do others? how about your
"replacement"? Toss a twist into the mix, to throw everyone off-guard, and see what happens.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Character […] isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits […]. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstance and context. The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment. (emphasis added; page 163, pbk ed)
Gladwell’s comment pertains to real-people personality traits, but it also speaks to characterization in the writerly sense. Writers are advised to let characters develop beyond simple cliches, into surprising, conflicting, complex people. We’re advised to let more, and worse, things go wrong for them. Aha, I get it: it’s precisely when things begin to go wrong -- when characters lose control of their environments -- that they begin to reveal their complex selves.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
It brings to mind an email from a friend who owns a restaurant franchise. He sees people do the same thing at the same time, seemingly out of nowhere:
What trend (repetition) can you weave in to deepen your current piece of writing?
Sunday was only moderately busy, with lunch rush ending early at about 12:30. Then at 2:50, we had 10 large orders within a 10-minute period. All 10 included a taco pizza.
We see it all the time in all areas of the business: one day everyone pays with checks, one day with credit cards, one day with twenties, one day with exact change, one day with fifties. One day everyone wants breasts, one day thighs, legs, wings, mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, ranch dressing, deep dish crust, original crust, thin crust, on and on and on. Something clearly affects us that we are unaware of.