What the geriatric rapper at Aquasize taught me about character development

Picture this: I'm in the Real Canadian Super Store (aka a big box store) with a grocery cart laden with supposedly lower priced food. I'm navigating a crowded isle, swerving in and out around equally ladened grocery carts like an NHL hockey player, when I stop to pick something off a shelf. Another cart pushes into mine. I look up and see an old guy wearing a hoody and a baseball cap like he's a geriatric gangsta rapper dude. He's pointing a finger at me.

Old rapper dude: You!
Inside my head voice: I know I'm blocking the isle, what are you going do beat me up?!
Old rapper dude: You! Sunday morning aquasize! (busts out a big smile - all gangsta!)

Then a light bulb went on (and I wasn't even in the lighting department), he's the old dude I see at aquasize most Sunday mornings. He has a penchant for a particular water weight and when the instructor dumps them on the deck I usually get there before he does and grab the ones he likes, before anyone else gets them, and give them to him. The equivalent of a water sport good deed for the day.

Why am I telling you this?

Put your protagonist and antagonist in different settings and see how they react, see what different character traits emerge.
How did twin protags Cyd and Jane react in my debut novel Dead Frog on the Porch when they were up against the Dr. Tallbot (aka the Cheese Pie Man) in different situations - at the lab, at their house having dinner, at the zoo, in front of their mother?

Try putting your characters in different, and unusually settings, and show us (don't tell us) how they respond to different things that happen to them.

Give me some examples of how you use different settings to evoke character.

Remember the last time I went to water aerobics and regretted it?


Anne R. Allen said…
This is so true. It happens to me all the time--I see somebody who's my favorite teller at my bank, but she's ahead of me in line at the supermarket. Don't have a clue who she is.

Great idea for enriching your story!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Anne - I was ready to go all fist-a-cuffs in the isle until I realized who he was :-)
Angela Ackerman said…
This is SO my life! I have a terrible time with remembering faces, I swear. And Names. I've had people come up to me, and I know I know them...but the name? Nope. The fill-in-the-blank place? Rarely. Thankfully most people have a better memory than I and can get me up to speed.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Jan Markley said…
You're not the only one Angela, sometimes I have to engage people in a conversation before I remember where I know them from. LOL!