Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Creating Short Stories - 10: Bringing Characters to Life

Creating Short Stories 10: Making the Characters Come to Life


Just for the fun of it, let’s take these three characters from the previous post and make them come to life. For our purposes, come to life means animating the people we described in the last blogCreating Short Stories: More on Characters . A writer wants to have them behave as everyday people would. Characters need to touch the readers in an emotional way that allows them to identify with the people in the story.

We have three characters: the older woman with hair that touches below her hips. She has a rather batty personality. One day she enters the coffee shop with that endless crop of hair tucked under a man’s hat, making it appears that she had shorn hers blonde locks. And two thirty-something men who walk into the coffee shop, nattily dressed. Sharp creases show on their white as a bleached road in Florida shirts and pants that shouts, “Custom tailored for me.” Windsor knots adorn their multi-colored silk ties creating the impression that cost never matters with any of their purchases.

Starting with the woman who’s named Kathy:

Kathy waited for the counter clerk to pour the decaf coffee. For some reason, she had tucked her extensive crop of blonde hair under her husband’s hat, as if to create a disguise. Her dark blue eyes that looked like deep wells darted about the store as if she feared someone would enter and attack her. She paced a bit.

Two well-dressed men walked into the large shop, one talking on his cell phone. “No, haven’t seen her yet. Anyone there have any idea where she might have gone?”

Kathy froze and turned her back to the two men.

The man continued, “I know it should be easy to spot her with all that hair, Tom, but she’s nowhere in sight. We’ve looked everywhere she goes during the day, or night for that matter. It’s as if she disappeared from the face of the Earth.

The clerk turned and placed the coffee container on the counter. “Here ya go, Kathy.”

Both men’s head jerked to the direction of the counter and saw nothing. Kathy had already rushed through the door to the back exit.

The clerk looked around. “Kathy? Where’d ya go?”

The second man asked the clerk, “Is there a back exit?”

“Yes, there is, but you can’t use it.”

“This is an emergency,” he said, as he pulled out some type of Federal Agent’s identification.

The men brushed the protesting clerk aside and ran into the back room. One of them yelled, “Damn, the door’s locked.”

“Front door,” his partner screamed.

They squeezed past the narrow doorway and onto the sidewalk, almost creating a comedic scene.

Now we have a short scene with three characters involved in some type of conflict. Some questions come to mind as I wonder if they will catch her:


Why do they want her?

Did she commit a crime?

Is she ill?

Did she escape from an institution?

Are they really Federal Agents?

Can we make this a short story?
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