Character forming

I’ve been editing my second thriller, Line of Sight, a work in progress. Perhaps because I know the characters better (from Standpoint), I find it easier to get swept along with the manuscript as a book and sometimes have to pull myself back to the editor’s chair. One thing I have observed is the way in which small details illustrate character. The way Thomas irons his tie for a funeral or the way Karl cracks jokes when he’s aware of tension. Or the way Miranda bursts the bubble of intimacy with a well aimed crude comment or two.

I’ve also turned that lens on people I met upon life’s journey. Small details, and each one of them a billboard of the soul.

Mick, who made a key ring made from a dead dog’s ear, supposedly as a mark of respect.
Michael – no connection – who spent a whole weekend turning my angst ridden teenage lyrics into songs and recorded them for me.
A nameless former colleague who put on the lingerie that his wife refused to wear (once she’d gone out of the room).
The man who put a cold hammer against my temple and demanded money.
The woman who thought it’d be funny to share an intimate secret, just to see what would happen.
A landlady who lowered the rent just because we got on so well.

Maybe character is best revealed by those things we do when we have freedom of choice and there’s no one else around.


  1. Derek says:

    1. I was mugged and then I shattered into little pieces.
    2. I never said it was my intimate secret, and a gentleman never tells.
    3. She was the best landlady in the world. She's somewhere in the US – in the midwest I think. Her name is Lillian Hughes and I'd love to hear from her. Her dad was called Peter and lived in Boston, I think. If you find her, you get a gold star.

  2. Steve says:

    Dear Derek –
    A while back I posted a want ad on craigslist for some honest thoughts. Your response was:

    Talent is often hard won and shouldn't be expected for free.

    For an aspiring or practising writer, there is very little fun in seeing a shout out for their creativity that includes the words: just for fun and no pay.



    All I have to say is keep "practising" and invest in spell check you might get more money that way.

  3. Derek says:

    Hi Steve, thanks for your thoughts. Mine's a British dictionary and works just fine, thank you.

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