istics of characters and selling your soul for a devil dog

psc alumni 2014 downtown plymouth!After a sun-baked summer, it’s time I remember I have a blog. The construction crew has moved on to greener pastures, and my home and my desk are my own, once again. At the time of renovation it felt like I had roommates, that we would be in each others lives almost indefinitely. Now that they’ve cleared out, I am having trouble remember their names. (I hope my children are reading this, because, you just never know…you know?)

It’s funny how people can come and go in your life. Some pass through like a morning fog, burning off any memory by midday. Others, for whatever reason, hang on like a bad habit. You see, that pretzel and beer at noon tradition? That’s just Uncle Theo reminding me to not forget him. Or drinking out of the milk carton when I hope no one is watching? Yes, that is my fun electrician, Jake, with the bushy red eyebrows, reminding me about the time I caught him doing just that in my house during renovation. Who could forget him?

We writers hope that the characters in our stories are of the latter, a bad habit you just can’t shake…hanging on reminding you how they solved problems, how they persevered against the odds, how they got their Aunt Margaret to sell her soul for a Devil Dog and how they escaped sure ruin by choosing to marry the hedge fund owners daughter instead of the prostitute from adjoining cell. We writers hope that our characters hang on to your conscious mind as well as your subconscious, coming back to you when you least expect it, when you go to grab a swig of milk, for example.

I am just about ready to let go of a story (and the characters in it) that I have spent way too much time ruminating on. My characters are clinging to all states of consciousness. I won’t be letting them fully go anytime soon. I suppose all habits aren’t bad.

What characters stand out in your mind?

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11 Responses to istics of characters and selling your soul for a devil dog

  1. Martha says:

    Love this. Some characters “stick.” Sophia (gr. 8) just finished “Of Mice and Men” and was just as devastated as I was when I read it at about her age (37? years ago.) I remember George and Lenny so clearly and I remember the heartache of that beautiful, sad story.

  2. JoAnn says:

    Welcome back Sally – I missed your blog – keep them coming…

  3. Marti says:

    Almost time for a pretzel and beer!

  4. joan says:

    What do you mean, exactly – letting go of your characters? Does this mean you are leaving them stranded and beginning work on another project, with the intention of revisiting your old friends later? Or does it mean that you’ve contacted a publisher and are allowing your characters to go out on their own, meeting new people? I’m hoping it’s characters I know, and that it’s the latter explanation.

    Your question is a loaded one, and impossible to answer fully. What characters stand out in my mind?

    Thousands, some real: My cousin David, who joined the Navy during WWII, saw action in the Pacific without injury, and broke both legs while motorcycling shortly after discharge. Irene Kline, the much-hated English teacher who revered good grammar and tried to pass on that reverence to her juniors and seniors. I think I was one of a handful of students who loved her. Jack and Sue, the two children who were in my care over a period of ten years, truly growing up with my own two. The production team I worked with for eleven years, fifty-two weeks a year, to present an original, surprising, and entertaining variety show. Judy Harvey, a girl in my urban 7th grade class, who perched on high ladders throughout the drab corridors, fashioning 6-ft.-wide flowers of vivid tissue paper and stapling them to the walls. Patrick, who was our waiter one fateful day, and became like a second son or grandson. Kathy Ward, who took a job as my co-secretary at school, and became one of the few people who thoroughly understand and agree with my life philosophy. Gordon Lightfoot, Chris DeBurgh, and Celtic Thunder (and about a hundred more), internationally acclaimed musicians who exhibit genius in different ways; their music has provided me with comfort, entertainment, inspiration, joy of life, points of view. Endless movie and t.v. characters, and the actors who portray them. Any politician, running for office, who tells us the positive plans he/she has, and never bad-mouths the opposition. Derek Jeter, the class act of professional sports.

    Vivid are the standout heroes and anti-heroes of my favorite authors – Tanya Huff, David Baldacci, Robert Parker, Vince Flynn, Nelson DeMille, Diana Gabaldon, John Grisham. To me, every one of those characters is real. Gracie and Dalton.

    The list is endless.


    • Sally Sally says:

      Dear Joan, You have a lifetime’s worth of characters to draw from. No excuses, keep writing! I am sending Gracie out and about, looking for representation. Keep all limbs and digits crossed! 🙂

  5. reigning champion says:

    I’m a bad habit.

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