Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Fit

by,

Kathie Shoop

It's strange how the little things always throw me off. For instance, today, I went to have my car inpsected and $1800 and 10 hours later, I got my car back. The shop was nice about everything, gave me a loaner, hurried things up as much as possible, etc. but the day, for me was not great at all. Besides the obvious cost giving me palpatations and a shot of depression, driving around in a car that wasn't mine was really unsettling. I was cranky, short, and all the rest. Besides going from driving perched in my minivan (yes, I know they're terrible looking, I swore I'd never have one, and now I love it like my spouse) to lodged in an Altima, it was one of those keyless starting jobs. You simply make sure the key fob is with you in the car and press a button to start and stop the engine.

No big deal. Well, for me apparently, it was. I kept getting out without turning the thing off, constantly felt my pockets, ferreted through my purse, making sure that damn fob didn't get locked in the running car...Yikes, am I fuddy, duddy, oldie or what? It was eye opening and I think helpful to my writing.

While big events clearly drive plots and character development and having a big concept is the desire du jour of agents and publishers, I think it's the little things that happen to characters that probably puts the spark in the action. Even for a person (ahem) character who doesn't fancy herself compulsive or rigid, leave it to the small stuff to show her the truth. Something to think about, anyway!

How do you and/or your characters handle the small stumbling blocks of life?

8 comments:

Annette said...

Most days I think I handle the little things pretty well. Unless I haven't had my coffee and then all bets are off.

I think different characters handle difficulties in different ways, much as different people do. They reactions can tell a lot about them.

Now, since I haven't had my coffee yet, I'm outta here before some little thing freaks me out.

Joyce said...

Like Annette, as long as I've had my coffee, I'm usually fine. I try to take things in stride.

I try not to do that to my characters, though. If they never get worked up about anything, it's be a pretty boring book.

It's definitely the little quirks that make the character.

Joyce said...

Obviously, I haven't had enough coffee this am. Sorry about the typos!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I could have written the book, Don't Sweat the Small Things. I try to let things go that are out of my control. My dear wife, on the other hand is my polar opposite. Probably a good thing.

SZ said...

I try to prepare prior to a possibility. Traffic, when I do drive, can always make you nuts. If you know you are about to walk into car repair, (a big thing !) or traffic . . . it helps me to have a mind set.

And maybe a good book on tape or cd for traffic.

As for the car you are not used to, I service write, so people who do not like rentals, I would remind them to be sure and have the rental agency go through the car with them.

Earth Hour 8:30 tonight

Karen in Ohio said...

Doing something outside your comfort zone is supposed to be good for your creativity. Like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, or driving to work a totally different way, starting your day differently builds new synapses in your brain, and forces you to think in a new way.

It's all good, Kathie. Just tap into it.

kathie shoop said...

Annette--I agree, coffee is central to getting things going and keeping an even keel. Part of it is the ritual, I think! Hope you got to the coffee before something did you in...

Joyce, no problem with typos, I'm infamous for them, myself. It sounds like you're life is down to the simple good things--great attitude!

Wilfred,
you're right, the balance is probably good. My husband and I balance each other out pretty well in terms of who's upset over what, lucky so far, I guess.

SZ, I employ the same tactic--having something with me to read/work on at all times. It really makes a difference.

Karen,
thanks for the info--I feel as though my brain is bigger and firing better than ever! Hoohrah for unexpected experiences...

Judy Schneider said...

Fun post, Kathie! Your situation would be just enough to fluster an already-bogged-down protagonist. We writers need to remember, as you say, that small things can complicate a larger problem. Good point. Thanks!

Judy