Friday, December 30, 2011

This will only hurt a little bit--maybe

I think the tangerines are multiplying. There was one on my desk yesterday, when I came into work, which I ate, and now there are two. Some people might think it odd to eat a tangerine (or food) of doubious origin, however all food is of dubious origin, isnt it? And I like tangerines.

I apparently have this problem where I think I am invincible. I know this is going to get me in trouble one day, but you see, perhaps I wouldn't believe it if it wasn't backed up by evidence like, getting exposed to strep all the time and never getting it, being immune to salmonella (recent claim since I eat the same food as other people and they get food poisoning and I don't--mostly involving poultry), or hitchhiking, and picking up hitch hikers. A good bit of this is probably luck, the rest is who knows...more luck, and a strong immune system.

The issue then becomes trying to grasp "normal", and how to make characters seem normal, or have "believable" reactions to things, like eating slightly under-cooked turkey, a normal remark apparently is not "eh, it will be alright." Some of my characters have a bit of my sense of invincibility, they live life along the "if it doesnt kill me it makes me stronger" belief, and well, if it doesn't make me stronger it only hurt a little bit right, plus scars are cool.

The issue that I run into is that I base characters on people, real people, or well real peoples personalities. And the personality I am best able to dissect is my own, which brings me back to my limited knowledge of normal. So my characters sometimes react to things in a very un-caviler way and I loose a readers since of belief, they dont understand the reasoning behind it, and want me to explain more...but well, that reaction is normal to me. So, I'm left trying to explain a rational that is perfectly reasonable to myself, to people who don't think like me, which means I have to think like them, which isn't an easy task.

How do you manage it?


  1. What a great intro. It made me want to write a story about someone who finds a random tangerine on her desk. My character's reaction would be different than yours. My character would sit and wonder who'd left it all day and try to figure it out. It would never occur to her to eat it.

    To me, that's the normal reaction. But I like your "normal reaction" much better. I guess all that really matters is what would be "normal" to the character you're writing about.

  2. Julianna--Good point, I think I struggle with the how to make a reader see that the thoughts are normal to the character part. Please do write about the mystery of the multiplying tangerines. That sounds like a fun story.

  3. You know, I am far from normal, but I think I have a good grasp of what normal should be. What I mean is that I too would eat that tangerine. It still has the skin on, right? Is someone REALLY going to inject it with battery acid just to kill ME, someone not even worth killing? However, most normal people probably wouldn't eat it. Pansies. So that's good for my writing, knowing what normal should be. I think.

  4. it could just come off as quirky and cool... maybe?

  5. A Beer for the Shower: Would the also eat, the other two tangerines and the ham sandwich that appeared later in the day? (I skip meals a lot)

    Libby: maybe.

  6. Catchy opener! Isn't that the point of taking an unusual angle of something regular, to draw attention, give us an intimate deep, deep, POV from the MC and hook the reader?

  7. I say keep up the unique voice and perspective with your chars. I don't plan on changing my style just because a few people who haven't tuned into me yet don't 'get' it. Only if the majority doesn't get it will I consider it.

    With that said, I've never liked 'normal' characters. I love quirky chars who have their own oddities and thoughts on life. Even if they're nothing like me and make me uncomfortable, I respect their author for developing them so well. I'd much rather read a well-developed character with ragged edges and a tough hide than a smooth, boring character favored by the masses.

    Also, keep an eye on those tangerines!